You’ve probably heard about how the fear of failure is responsible for us not getting started with our dream. Or how the fear of success is trying to keep us within our comfort zone.
Well, I believe there’s even a bigger, more intimidating fear that we first must tackle before we can even start to be afraid of failing or succeeding. And that’s the fear of making the wrong choice.
WITH SO MANY OPTIONS, IT GETS HARD TO CHOOSE
We’re lucky enough to live in a time where all doors are wide open for us. We can be anything and everything. We can start our own business, or work for a mission-driven NGO. We can travel around the world, sipping a coconut on a beach in Thailand while making money working as a virtual assistant for a US company. We can be an artist, teaching how to draw on our YouTube channel, coach people in mindfulness, selling iPhone cases on Amazon – all at the same time.
Our options are pretty much limitless.
For the generation of our parents or grandparents it might seem hard to comprehend why – with all these fruitful opportunities around us – we seem to have such a hard time. Pick a job or profession, climb up the ladder, save money, provide for your family, buy a house, go 2x per year on holiday – what’s not to be happy about?
But that’s not enough for us. We want more. We want meaning.
WE’RE NOT JUST LOOKING FOR A JOB, WE’RE LOOKING FOR MEANING
Since job security is pretty much a given our basic needs are covered. We’re not worried that we won’t find a job, we’re worried that we’re stuck in ANY job that doesn’t give us fulfillment. With our work – our lives work – we want to matter, make a difference, and express ourselves.
Personally, I believe that this is absolutely beautiful. I’m all in on that dream. I go so far as to say, if you’re not doing your live’s work, you’re not living up to your highest potential. You can find meaningful work and you should be looking for it. Because this is how you’re going to have the biggest impact on our world, and for our global society.
OWN YOUR LIFE, CHANGE THE WORLD is the motto I live by. That means create a life you love, do work you’re passionate about, take charge of the quality of your relationships. If there’s something you don’t like and there’s the possibility to change it, do it. Don’t complain (or give it a good rant), but then find a way. Understanding the power of being 100% responsible for the quality of my life, was the hardest thing I ever did and simultaneously the most rewarding one.
Yet I know, and very well remember, how hard it is to start working on your dreams, find meaningful work, to go out on the quest and to find your purpose. Nobody told us how to choose – from a room full of opportunities and possible directions – which one is the right one for us.
THE FEAR OF MAKING THE WRONG CHOICE KEEPS US STUCK
When it comes to finding your purpose, I’m an expert in failing. I’ve made SO many countless mistakes, I spent SO much time trying to find it in the wrong places, worrying if I’m ever going to find it, feeling overwhelmed, stuck and not able to enjoy the present moment because I felt stressed, and chased by an invisible deadline that I’ve missed already years ago.
Here’s what I’ve learned: One of the main reasons why you might feel stuck right now, is because you’re afraid of making the wrong choice.
WE’RE THINKING ABOUT WHAT TO DO, BECAUSE THIS IS WHERE WE FEEL SAFE
When you’re in the middle of starting any of your dreams, you usually have a few options on how to go get it started. You – finally – want to start your fitness routine? You could do yoga at home in the morning, or go to a gym, sign up for a half-marathon or take a dance class.
You want to start a new creative hobby but are not sure which one. You could sign up for a pottery class, or attend a drawing course, or maybe writing would be cool?
When it comes to finding more meaning in your job, you think about changing your department, finding a new position in a NGO, work as a freelancer, travel the world and become a full-time blogger.
And not knowing which of your ideas is the right one, the perfect one that will lead you to bliss, and happiness, and feeling fulfilled, you end up doing nothing. You go back into your head, thinking about all the things you could do, trying to figure out which option is the right one – because this is where it feels safe. Even though it doesn’t feel good, at least it feels safe.
But my friend, here comes the truth.
CERTAINTY COMES FROM ACTION, NOT THOUGHT
It doesn’t matter with what you start, because if you don’t get started at all, nothing will ever change. The only way you can grow in your life is by doing something you’ve never done before and by trying something you’ve never tried before. Let that sink in.
There’s a 0% chance of finding your purpose or changing your life by staying in your head. You need to get out of your comfort zone and get moving. It’s 100% ok to take tiny baby steps, to have doubts along the way, to feel uncomfortable – as long as you keep moving forward.
I know that sounds way easier than it feels, because I’ve been where you’re right now. Here’s what helped me to get out of my head and start taking action.
WHAT HELPED ME TO GET OVER THE FEAR OF MAKING THE WRONG CHOICE
1. Pick the least intimidating option
Create a list of the different options that you feel indecisive about. Go through the list and cross out the options that don’t really excite you. Then, among the ones that are left, identify the option that least intimidates you. Ask yourself: Which of these options do I feel most ready to act upon?
The first idea that I’ve tried was to create a copywriting course for startups and founders. As I was working as a copywriter during that time this option felt least scary, yet still exciting – because even back then I knew that I want to add value by creating online courses. Currently I’m creating my first online coaching course – so without knowing it back then, now I can use everything I learned back then. And that’s usually how life plays out in our favor.
2. Give yourself time to test
Choose a time period in which you’re going to focus on testing your idea. Make it 2 weeks up to 1 month. The idea is to keep it short and sweet, so you don’t feel as if you’re choosing any option FOREVER. Because I remember so well that – even though I knew it’s not true – it felt as if the choice I’m making now is going to determine my WHOLE life. Of course that’s not true. What truly helped me was to limit my ‘little experiment’.
I gave myself 4 weeks to work on the copywriting course. By the end of the time, I’ve created the course outline and a website to promote it. I also knew that this is not something I want to pursue. Instead of feeling any kind of failure, I felt PROUD that I gave it a try and created something beautiful. I also felt EXCITED that I could move on to my next idea – supporting an NGO with a mission I strongly believe in.
3. Don’t go all in
We hear it everywhere: Make a decision and then go all in. I believe that this is bullcrap. Why? Because at this stage of the process, you don’t know yet what you want. You’re still in exploration mode. So it doesn’t make ANY sense to go all in yet. ‘Going for it’ doesn’t mean to flip your life upside down from one day to another. The bigger the decision, the more time you want to spend on testing the idea. What does make sense is to put your explorer hat on and test out in small experiments if the chosen option keeps you feeling excited.
My second idea was to join a NGO with a mission I strongly believed in. So, did I quit my job and started applying for NGO positions? Hell no! Instead I researched a NGO I was super excited about and I found the Girls Gearing Up Leadership Academy, a program for young teenage girls to equip them with the mindset, role models and skills they need to succeed. You can check them out and support them here
. I asked them if I can volunteer for free and I’ve spent my weekends and after work assisting them with marketing, copywriting, PR, etc. All while I was continuing to freelance.
And thank God, I didn’t go all in. Because even though I love the mission and I still support them, I realized that working for a NGO is not what I wanted. During that period of time I came to realize that I wanted to create my own business while being able to donate parts of my profits to organizations I believe in.
4. Make getting started as easy as possible
Starting is always hard. There’s no ‘if only I find the right option, it will be easy.’ Forget it! That’s a HUGE BIG FAT LIE! Heck, I love writing, yet every time I’m creating a new blog post, I find it hard and uncomfortable. Sitting in front of a white paper is one of the most intimidating things to me. But I choose to do it, because I have a bigger reason why that drives me. I want to share my lessons with you, and I want you to find hope and inspiration.
Remember, you can only grow outside of your comfort zone – so starting will stay uncomfortable every single time. Yet you can do plenty to make it easier.
For example: When I’ve a writing day, I go to my favorite café. I love the vibe, the food, and all the other cool people who’re sitting there busy with their laptops working on their dreams just like me. Your environment matters! I also make sure to take tiny tiny action steps. So instead of telling myself that I’m writing a full blog post now, I say ‘ok, Chrissi, let’s write down the first few ideas you’ve about that topic. In bullet points, no full sentences needed.’ Then I move on to ‘creating a first shitty draft’ – yes I purposefully allow myself to write something that’s not good. Only then do I start editing.
The essence here: Think about ways how you can make the starting part as simple and nice as possible!
5. Find your tribe
I wish I had followed this advice much earlier on: don’t try to do it all alone! Working on your dreams and trying new things all by yourself is hard. Find people with similar dreams, goals and aspirations – and you’ll see: nothing is more powerful than being surrounded by like-minded people. Together you can grow, learn and support each other when things get tough.
That’s the reason why I’ve created the OWN YOUR LIFE Community on Facebook. A place where you meet like-minded women who’re all on their journey to creating a life they love – with open minds and open hearts.
Join us and say hi today! We love to welcome you in our tribe
Those are the 5 things that helped me to overcome the fear of making the wrong choice. The magic happens in the doing my friend, so I’d love to hear from you: What’s one thing you’re excited about trying out right now?
Let me know in the comments below!
With love, xo