Written by Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator
After years of working with job seekers, I see that for many people what holds us back isn’t our external circumstances – the job market, the economy, etc. – but our internal ones. Yes, there are factors we need to consider; child care, transportation, education, geographic location, and yes, the job market and economy are just a few. But the internal landscape presents much more daunting obstacles:
Fear of change
Fear of getting stuck in a rut
Fear of leaving
Fear of staying
Fear of success
Fear of failure
Fear of what others think
Fear of starting over
Fear of rejection
Fear that you’ve “lost your touch”
Fear of looking stupid
Fear of making a bad decision
Fear of something new
Fear of things always being in upheaval
We start internal conversations and psych ourselves out of taking risks before we even have a chance to get started. “I wasn’t very good at school when I was a kid. What makes me think I’d be good at it now?” “That’s a big commitment. I probably shouldn’t even start.” “I’ll just go back to my old job.” “I have to do this because it’s what I went to school for.” “I don’t know what my options are.”
Why do we let our fears make our decisions for us? Writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (who certainly knows a thing or two about walking away from a situation) wrote in Walden:
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Why are you in your current situation, whatever that might be? Is it where you want to be? I love quotes – so here are some famous people giving insights on how to get unstuck and stop letting your fears rule.
“Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” – Walter Anderson
Is your fear of change holding you back?
“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.” – Maimonides
Do you think you have to be perfect?
“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done.” – Cardinal Newman
Do other people think you have to be perfect?
“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain
You really can do this.
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The effort will be worth it, even if you don’t reach your goals in the way you expect.
“You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try, you don’t take the risk.” – Rosalynn Carter
There are so many quotes about risk and reward and adventure; I’d like to close with one of my favorites:
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.” – John A. Shedd