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Looking Fear in the Eye

A friend and I were having a conversation today about fear and how to acknowledge it while simultaneously stepping into the world of the unknown in order to make changes in our lives towards long-term goals.

It reminds me of myself at age 23, sitting on a plane getting ready to take off for my 2-year adventure as a fresh Peace Corps volunteer, headed toward the West African country of Benin. Was I scared? Absolutely. Here I was, a small-town girl from rural Kansas, venturing to a world an ocean away from anything I’d ever known. But I did it because I had to for my future self, despite my discomfort in the moment. There was a person I wanted to be on the other side of the experience I was about to embark on. I knew I wanted to learn to speak another language, I knew I wanted to live in an economically under-developed country, and I knew that being on my own in a completely foreign place would push me far beyond any other level of discomfort I’d previously known. I wanted it all. I didn’t know exactly how I’d be shaped by the experience, but I knew I would be. (Turns out, it was an immeasurable amount.)

Fast forward to today, and I continuously use that experience as an anchor point to step into doing the things I fear for the sake of my greater good and future self.

During the conversation with my friend today, I shared a little saying that’s on a magnet on my parents’ fridge. It says, "If you don't change direction, you just may end up where you are headed.”

It sounds simple, yes. But I find the concept quite powerful.

You see, it’s easy to stay on the path you’re on. It’s the path of least resistance. It requires no effort and it’s very well known. Even if we say we don’t like our current circumstance, it’s easier to complain about it than to change it. (Sound familiar? I know I've been there.)

Whether you’re wanting to change direction, make a commitment to yourself, or step into a new role you’ve wanted for yourself, quite often there is fear standing between you and action. Courage is needed to face fear and not let it win. What if you own your fear, look it in the eye, and then move forward anyway?

True change requires commitment to the long-term vision. It requires effort. And it requires courage.

My questions to you are this: What are you wanting to do, change, or experience to be the person you want to be in the future? And what is holding you back? Can you acknowledge the fear that is there and also step into the unknown for the sake of your future self?

My hope for you is yes, you can. I suspect in the end it will be quite rewarding.

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