‘Feel the fear and do it anyway.’ – Susan Jeffers.
Sometimes in life, you have the opportunity to do things that can absolutely scare the hell out of you. Like cliff-diving in Boracay. Or bungy-jumping. Or even telling the girl/guy you like what you truly feel. Quitting your job to pursue your passion counts too. In health and exercise? Getting out of your comfort zone to start hitting the gym even if it feels weird and out of place.
Doing something scary is uncomfortable. It takes a lot out of you and it can put you out there all vulnerable and weak. But once you’ve taken the first step to conquer the fear, it will liberating and it feels so damn good.
But how do we start taking the first step to conquer any fear that we have?
That’s where I step in. And today you will be more fearless than you’ve ever been and start achieving the awesomeness that you can potentially be.
A month ago, I left my day job to pursue my passion in writing for this website. It was a nerve-wrecking and confusing decision on whether I should do it or not but I eventually did. Truth is, I wasn’t even working for that company for long. I started in August and left in November. That was barely even 3 months. Did I hate it? Not really. But I disliked it. But as much as it wasn’t in my good books, I seriously have to thank that job for bringing me to this place that I am in today.
In July, I returned home after living in Singapore for two years working as a fitness trainer. As soon as I reached home, I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t have a job, I know no one in the fitness industry in Australia and I missed travelling, a lot. It felt like I was going through a cold turkey treatment letting go of all the things I’ve ever known and ever loved.
That was when I started applying for jobs even though deep down I knew I wanted to pursue my passion in helping people in fitness, nutrition and self-development. I applied for jobseverywhere because it was the safest thing to do.
The funny thing is, I did not land a gig in fitness land. Perhaps I didn’t have much experience training in the country but for whatever reasons, all my offers are from administrative, customer service and travel roles.
Travel. I thought I would like that, so I attended the interviews and finally got an offer. In just 3 weeks after I returned from Singapore, I was offered a full time job as a travel consultant. I was stoked, as excited as I can be. Everyone told me I was lucky but sadly, it didn’t feel good.
While waiting for the day I start work (there was a three week period from when I was offered the position and when I actually start) I decided to start a blog. My main purpose for this blog at that time is to help people from all around the world about all things fitness and how to live an awesome life. I had so much plan for it. I even launched the website with quite a good round-up post from all my favourite bloggers. But sadly, when I finally started working, I realised I didn’t have much time in my hands to continue blogging.
So I left the blog for a bit to try my hand in the travel industry. Working as a travel consultant was great until one day, two months into the job, I sat there on my desk, while planning a big massive trip for one of my clients thinking ‘What am I doing here?’. I realised there and then that I wasn’t happy, and it definitely did not give me the satisfaction I would otherwise have if I had stuck with working in the fitness industry.
So I handed in my letter of termination and I left two weeks after that.
Recognizing and rationalising
Working as a travel consultant wasn’t bad at all. My colleagues was the most passionate people I’ve ever seen and the company only hires the best in the industry. Unfortunately, we do not share the same passion.
I did not hate my previous job. In fact, I love talking to people about travel and sharing with them my experiences but it just wasn’t for me. That was why when my boss asked me why am I leaving, I do not have a ‘right’ answer. From the day I realised I wasn’t satisfied with the work I’m doing to the day I handed in my resignation letter, I had a good think about my actions. Here are the three things that came through my thought process.
1. Money. I was comfortable living paycheck to paycheck in that short two months especially since it was my first time having a proper day job. All this while I was working for myself servicing clients and working around my own time. My monthly pay varies on how hard I’ve worked the previous month and how much I’ve travelled so this was great. It feels good to finally earn and I know leaving will impact me and my finances a lot.
2. Passion. My passion lies in fitness and travelling. I love exploring beyond geographical boundaries but when I was weighing my options whether to stay or leave, I came up to a very important conclusion – I love helping people be better than the best that they are now more. It lies in making new friends and connections and reaching out to those who might find me useful. I then know that I won’t have anything to lose should I leave because I would have this website as my platform to reach out to people like you.
3. People. In an Asian culture, it is normal and highly advocated to grow up, get good grades, go to college, graduate, get a job and get paid. Somewhere along those lines you’ll get married, have babies and start a family. So many of us are afraid to step out of our comfort zone to pursue things that matters to us because we are afraid of what others might say. I was one of them when I started working as a travel consultant. I thought to myself that this is great, now when people ask what I’m doing, I can finally have something ‘normal’ to say.
But then I thought, what is normal? What might be normal to some might not be normal to others. Walking barefoot day after day is normal for some kids in Third World countries but it’s abnormal for kids who lives in Beverly Hills.
In the words of Tim Ferriss (or Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito if we must), “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Yes perhaps I would be broke for months but I won’t be homeless (I hope!). I will always have the support of my family and the people around me should things not work out the way I hope it would.
For me another fear is time. I was scared that doing what I’m doing right now would mean wasting my time but then I weighed the pros and cons. Time used to do something for a purpose is not time wasted at all. Things might not work out but I’m satisfied I’m doing something that I’m passionate about, and that is enough.
More often than not, the worst case is not as life-threatening as we think it is. It’s usually temporary and the pay-off for taking the risk will usually outweigh the risk itself. That was what I was thinking, which led me to being here on a Wednesday writing about things I love for the people I would love to meet – YOU.
Why do we have to do scary things?
People who do scary things, no matter how big or small, are the ones who generally gets ahead in living a pretty awesome life. It’s the risk-takers that achieves, not the one who sits on their chair looking at people take risks. Some reasons why we need to take risks include:
– We need to do it. Maybe it’s a work requirement that need you to give a short speech in front of all your bosses. Maybe it doesn’t feel right, like my previous job.
– It makes us feel alive. Like travelling alone and renting a motorbike in a city with the highest number of motorbikes in the world (hello Ho Chi Minh!). Feeling the breeze upon our faces makes us feel alive.
– It could change our lives. Telling the guy or girl that you like how you truly feel can be life-changing.
– It’s a huge opportunity for something much better. Maybe that speech that you have to give will lead you to a raise or take you further up your career ladder.
– You’re just bored and looking for some spark in your life. Like moving cities, or changing jobs.
People take risks for so many reasons. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a life-changing reason. It could simply be taking risks to be happy. Whatever it is, doing risky things has proven to provide a wealth of psychological benefits and greater rewards in life.
Ready to learn how to conquer any fear any time? Here are six tried and tested reasons I personally use whenever I have to do something risky to live a Pretty Awesome life.
Acknowledging your fears
In order to conquer your fears and move on from there, you have to acknowledge the fact that the fear is there. The best way to do this is to tell yourself that it’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to feel like the world is under you and you might lose so many things if you left a job. And it’s definitely okay to not know what is going to happen next. Accepting your fear creates room in your life for changes. If you don’t acknowledge the fact that you’re scared, you’re lying to yourself because jumping off an 8m cliff to the scary deep blue ocean is SCARY.
In fact, a study done by Pepperdine University in their Qualitative Exploration of Courage has found that to act courageously and bravely requires an understanding on one’s anxiety and limitations and then working through them. Denial of fear does not support the courageous action.
Whatever it is, take a deep breath, tell yourself you’re scared and feel it. Embrace the fear and just do it anyway. Whatever comes next is a whole new chapter on it’s own.
Expose yourself to the world
In other words, be vulnerable. Remember when you fell in love the first time? Oh I know I did. It was hopeless and cheesy and seriously, I was as vulnerable as I could ever be. It turned out to be one of the best relationships I ever had (although it didn’t last) but putting yourself out there helps you in getting what you want, no matter how risky it is. Believing in your unworthiness can lead us to live a fear-based life, a life based on taking risks because we want to be better all the time.
Go out there and expose yourself to failure and criticism. Starting a blog is not easy, let alone starting something that does not involve any monetary rewards. I am putting myself out there to be rejected and criticised but it’s okay because that is how I know I’ll get better. Being perfect, cynical and controlling all the time does not help you in coming alive and dealing with your fears. Let it go.
Expose yourself to what you fear
In the words of Yoda. “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”
That is exactly how it is done, my friends.
The only way you can ever conquer your fears is to face it. I had a fear of doing pull-ups for the longest time. I told myself I can’t do it although I’ve always wanted to do it. I sticked to ‘progressing’ myself by doing things like lat-pulldowns (totally wrong here!) and assisted pull-ups but I did not get any better. Until I faced my fear and dealt with the pull-up bar woman-on-woman. I got better and although I still can’t complete one clean rep, my negative pull-up reps are getting better and I conquered the fear of hanging on a pull-up bar.
One of the most effective ways of banishing your fears is to face them, just like Exposure Theraphy. As quoted by Jaimal Rogis in his article for overcoming fears – “exposure is hands down the most successful way to deal with phobias, anxiety disorders, and everyday fears of any sort.“
Afraid of travelling? Do small trips to somewhere close by, like a drive to the next city. Afraid of public speaking? Practise public speaking at your local Toastmasters. Afraid of doing squats? Learn the form and just do it anyway. Taking small baby steps helps too, especially in strengthening your willpower, giving you more strength to conquer any fear of any size.
Do you find that it’s easier to say yes to something when someone else is doing it with you? I’ve never tried sky-diving and maybe those of you who has can help me out here but I’m sure having yourself strapped on to an experienced diver on a tandem sky-dive makes it easier for you to conquer your fears. You may be scared s***less but hey, you’re doing it with someone else.
Pick someone who is much more confident than you and leverage on their strength to get your fears done and dusted. That way you’re not the one making the big scary decision of whether you should speak in front of others or not. I never dared try on CrossFit until my brother who is way more confident than I am in risky things like these dragged me along. Peer pressure can be a good thing at times like this.
Make it hard to say no
While I was cliff-diving in Boracay, I felt super confident until our boat reached the cliff. My first reaction? Holy cow that’s a really high cliff! I backed out several times until I gained enough strength to just jump. One reason is because I’ve already paid for it. But it’s also because I feel like I’m missing out if I don’t do it. The beautiful clear water surrounded by awesome natural rock stones makes it hard for me to say no. The same applies too when I decided to leave my previous job to pursue my passion. If I don’t do it then, I will never know how good it feels to be writing.
Choosing something relatively scary to do that makes it hard to say no increases your chances of doing it. If that doesn’t help, make a public declaration. Tell everyone you’re running a marathon. Or even better, sign up for a run that involves raising money for charity. That way you can’t back out.
Visualise yourself on where you want to be and reinforce positive affirmations into your life. Put the good emotions in, let go of bad feelings, and be optimistic.
As for me…
I might not know what lies ahead with this blog and all the other projects I’m working on but I am contented to be where I am at today, sharing experiences and knowledge. I hope this is beneficial to you in some ways or another and that is enough to keep me going.
Here’s to you…
If you’ve been wanting to travel but you’re just too scared to move because you don’t like living outside your comfort zone, just do it. If you really hate your job but you like how it pays the bills although it’s not something you want to do, weigh your pros and cons and do it. If you’ve been wanting to run a marathon, start weight training or start eating better, do it.
Take a chance. It involves some blind trust in most cases but trust your instincts. At the end of the day, what’s the worst that could happen?
Now tell me…
Have you done sky-diving before? Please tell me how awesome it is.
What have you done that is different to conquer your fears?
Is there something I can help you with in conquering your fears?
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts with the community. :)
Happy Hump Day lovelies.