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Some thoughts on fear

career direction tips career mindset Oct 07, 2022

It was 2017, I was living and teaching English in Shanghai, China, and I thought I was entering a career I would love. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this field wasn’t for me, and yet it still took me a year to make a change and reach out for help.

While my desire to leave teaching kept growing each day, so did my fear of the unknown in what came next. If I wasn’t going to be a teacher, then what was I supposed to do? What if this next job turns out to be worse than teaching? What if I don’t actually know what I want? 

I was so terrified of ending up in another job I didn’t like (or worse) that they paralyzed me from making any change. However, I knew it was the fear that was stopping me, so logically I thought, “If I can just stop being afraid of what could happen, then I will figure out what I want to do next.”

Guess what… my logic didn’t work! I spent twelve months waiting for the fear to go away before I finally signed up to participate in the Inner Compass Process.

When I look back at that time now as a coach myself, I realize that genuine change came from accepting my fear rather than trying to eliminate it. I spent so much time fighting a thing that will never go away because changing careers will always be a little scary. I would never have been able to discover a more fulfilling career if I had continued to think that I had to stop feeling afraid before I could do anything. 

For me, looking at my fear meant going beyond just asking myself what I was afraid of, but also asking why I was afraid, where had that fear come from, when did it first show up, and what does it need.

When I started to ask myself those questions, I saw that the reason my fear was so loud was that I hadn’t fully gone through the grieving process of not just this job, but of all the careers I had wanted but either lost or couldn’t make happen in the past.

Because I hadn’t come to terms with all of my past career losses, my fear had gone into full “fight or flight” mode to do whatever it could to protect myself from feeling the pain of yet another loss. 

And while that fear wanted a guaranteed perfect job for me, when I asked my fear what it actually needed, I realized it was the reassurance that no matter what happens, perfect job or not, I would be OK.

Once I stopped fighting my fear and saw that it was there trying its best to protect me, it stopped being my enemy and instead became my partner. It could stay and help protect me and I could help the fear get the assurance it needed by reaching out to others for help.

Working with Danielle and going through the Inner Compass Process allowed that fear to settle and diminish so it would no longer hold me back from making a change.

I know it isn’t easy; it’s human instinct to try and stop feeling afraid rather than just letting it be and getting to know it. Fears and doubts often come from the unknown and all the questions that can pile up in our heads when we look at new career paths. Fortunately, we can mitigate these fears by acknowledging their presence and understanding their purpose.

With this awareness, I work together with my clients in helping to ask themselves “What does their fear need?” By opening up a dialogue with their fear, clients are able to see the true reason for it being there and help it get those needs met. When they start working with their fear rather than against it, they are able to take their power back and not let the fear stand in their way any longer as they move forward.

You’ve got this!


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