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Feel the fear - and do it 10 years later.

Do you know the book “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers? (I recommend).

Basically, she says that we will always have the fear of doing something new, but if we wait until we don’t have that fear anymore to do it, we never will. The only way to deal with fear and get over it she says, is to do it anyway. Grasp the nettle, so to speak. Yes, makes sense?

But what if fear keeps you stuck for years?

I had an interesting conversation recently with a lady I’ve known for about a year.

She decided over a year ago to give up her “good”, well-paying job to spend more time with her young family. She’s been getting up at stupid-o-clock and doing a big commute, not seeing her children in the morning and then coming home late at night, tired and weary. They’d grabbed take-aways and maybe relaxed over a few glasses of wine. At weekends they ate out and “treated” themselves to make up for it all. And the money was good and available, but she felt that the children’s young lives were passing her by.

So, she made a decision and stepped away from her “good job” and made some changes at home, in finances and lifestyle to make it work. And guess what? She is one happy lady today, healthier (no take-aways or booze and less sedentary lifestyle) and happier (more time with kids, life not passing her by).

So, I asked her how long she had been thinking about making the change before she did it.

Answer: 10 YEARS!!

And why didn’t she do it sooner? FEAR, pure and simple.

I’ve felt that fear as well. Have you?

In April 2012 I took a voluntary redundancy. That was an easy enough decision as I had been feeling unsettled and uneasy at work for quite some time (maybe even a few years now I think about it). I blamed this on the recession and the pressures that came with this. But I also felt the emotional tug of my children, the elusive “work-life-balance” and the feeling that life was passing by in a blur of breakfast, bag-packing, dropping off, working, collecting, making dinner, homework, bedtimes and rinse and repeat daily… But the fear wasn’t too bad then, although it was certainly still there. I would have a small redundancy payment and social welfare for 12 months. Enough to give me some breathing space, and without the cost of childcare, we’d manage.

Some 8 or 9 months’ later, I was getting a bit itchy. Jobs were not plentiful in my industry and my social welfare was running out (FEAR), (and truth be told I was probably getting a bit fed up with my own company – and FEAR that if I waited much longer, I’d be unemployable). Someone had told me to be careful I didn’t tip the work-life-balance scales too far in the direction of life, with not enough work. This worried me (FEAR). I started to job hunt. In the old, traditional way of looking for advertisements and sending in my CV. It was the only way I knew (not the best way to job-hunt or develop a career, but that conversation is for another day).

A job came up that suited my experience perfectly. I kind of knew that if I applied, I’d probably get it. I also kind of knew that I didn’t want it. But my head (the FEAR) ruled me and I sent in my application. I was offered it, my head (FEAR) ruled and I took it. The FEAR abated. I had a job (phew), I was back in the workforce, I was earning money again. I told myself that I’d do a respectable 2 years at least and that would look fine on my CV if I wanted to change. But the old unsettled and uneasy feeling returned. The work-life-balance question. The emotional tug. The feeling of being on a roller-coaster that I couldn’t get off.

For 2 and a half years I vacillated (in my head) between leaving and staying. The FEAR was there, and it kept me stuck. Eventually, I left that job almost 4 and a half years after I started and maybe 6 (or maybe 7, 8 or even 9) years after I first felt that perhaps things needed to change for me more fundamentally.

For my friend it was 10 years.

FEAR had kept both my friend and I stuck for years; the guts of a decade.

So, what was different this time for me? A few personal things happened which made me re-evaluate. But the main thing was that I listened to myself.

I also listened to the FEAR, but I didn’t let it decide. (“Oh Hiya Fear, is that you? Yes, yes I know, I hear you, now scoot and let me listen to someone else”).

Getting coached helped. Just saying how I felt about it helped. Looking at my values and deciding on my work values helped.

Asking myself “What is important to me now?” and “What do I need a job to give me now?” were the questions that helped form my decision. In fact, it made deciding quite easy and almost obvious.

Like my friend who realised that her life was in conflict with her values, once you realise that and readjust your life to suit your values, you’ll just know the right thing to do, and you’ll do it, FEAR and all.

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