Sometimes, the only thing stopping you from doing something is the fear of the unknown. Whether it is quitting your job, being on your own, or moving to a new place, these things can all instill feelings of fear and apprehension.
I vividly remember three events in my life when I faced an enormous amount of fear. The first time was when I was setting out on a trip around the world as a solo female traveler, the second was moving to a new country which was completely unfamiliar to me, and the third and most frightening one was quitting my job, without having another one lined up.
There were several scary thoughts that kept me up at night. ‘What if I can’t find a new job? What if everything goes wrong? What if I run out of money? What if, what if, what if?’
The more I thought about these things, the more stressed out and nervous I got, until finally I said ‘enough.’
Here’s some steps I took to overcome my constant fear of the unknown.
1. Rationalize Your Fear
As human beings we all tend to blow fear out of all proportion, so what starts as ‘What if I get lost?’ can soon turn into ‘What if I get lost, and end up in a bad neighborhood, and then I get mugged?’ which could happen, but it’s probably very unlikely.
The key here is to use your logic to try and hone in your wildest fears and make them smaller.
Whenever I got scared, I just told myself that I was thinking about the worst case scenario. I asked myself ‘What would you do if that happened?’
So ‘What if I don’t make any friends?’ turned into ‘How do I make new friends?’ and ‘What if I run out of money?’ became ‘How do I save money, so I don’t run out before I find a new job?’
2. Turn Your Fear of the Unknown Into Excitement
Yes, it’s scary – but isn’t it also really exciting? You have the opportunity to change something in your life, which could be the best decision you ever make.
I was terrified when I decided to quit my job, but I was also really excited about new opportunities.
Every time I got nervous, I just turned told myself that even though it was scary, I should also be excited for the change in my life.
The more I told myself this, the less scary it became, until excitement finally took over.
3. Embrace Your Fear and Face it Head-on
The great thing about fear is that you can use it to your advantage. Sometimes the best, and most successful decisions people make are the ones that come off of the back of being scared.
By facing it head on, you’re challenging yourself to accept and deal with it. Scared of quitting your job? Hand in your notice. Scared of travelling solo? Book your flight.
This way there’s no going back, and you are forced to deal with it.
By doing this, you’re not giving yourself the easy option, but you will very quickly see how you deal with fear head-on, and then you can use it to your advantage the next time you are faced with a difficult decision.
For me, I was afraid to leave my job, even though I had written my notice letter. My manager wasn’t there, so I decided to hand my notice in to a senior manager, because I told myself ‘If I don’t do it now, I never will.’
I knew, from past experience that I should trust my gut instinct.
Then I was faced with the reality that I was going to leave, without a job at the end of it. This became my motivator. Now ‘what if I run out of money?’ has turned into me getting up every morning and finding new ways of earning cash.
Sometimes just taking a step back, and allowing yourself to breathe is a good way to alleviate a fear of the unknown.
Don’t think about it for an hour, and then come back to it. Is it still as scary?
Do you have any tips and tricks for facing a fear of the unknown? Please share them in the comments below.
Image by President_Evil.