3 Fairly Simple Antidotes for Fear Based Decisions
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Recently a relative of mine (a young adult) told me she wanted to leave her city and move back home to stay with family. She wasn’t earning enough income and her job prospects in the city did not look good, at least that's how she perceived it. In addition, her best friend, and roommate, was also moving out for the same reasons and my relative did not feel comfortable living with someone new or refurnishing the place.
I share this story because my relative’s scenario illustrates a common challenge. She actually wants to stay in the city but the pull and comfort of what she knows is stronger than what she doesn't. Her staying in the city has some unknowns to work out and it would require more effort.
Have you ever made a decision out of comfort to avoid facing fear? If so, how did it turn out?
I sure have and it did not turn out well. My clients have too, and it had them repeating unsatisfactory positions or relationships. The thing is fear is natural yet unpleasant and our comfort zones are really comfy. Luckily, we can manage or challenge it. As one business coach used to say, "there is no growth in your comfort zone."
How do we manage fear and challenge our comfort zone? I believe it starts with awareness. If we know our brain (the primitive part) stops us from stepping out and doing something that involves risk, then we can recognize and redirect it when it happens. You see, the job of this part of our brain is to keep us safe and protect us (that's how our species survived) however it doesn't know how to shut off when it comes to non-threatening career and life decisions. When confronted with unfamiliar decisions, fear and resistance can show up. Typically, it shows up as different fears: a fear of the unknown, of becoming successful (getting what you want), losing something or someone because of your decision, or failure. Life Coach Mel Robbins discusses this phenomenon in her book The 5 Second Rule.
The 5 Second Rule is a simple but effective tool that helped Robbins turn her life around. When you think of something to do or say, she says to count down from five seconds and act on it. Because of our brain's status quo tendencies (silence and hesitation), we have a five second window to act on our thoughts or ideas. Otherwise, you most likely won't make it happen or it won't happen for a while (think of emails you didn't get to right away). Counting down interrupts our play-safe thinking to get us into action. When enough action is taken you will experience a different reality: a reality created out of your desires.
Another way to manage or challenge fear and our comfort zones is to trust. Yes, you read that correctly. A lot of people experience uncertainty, fear and anxiety due to a lack of trust: trust in themselves, trust in others, trust in the process, etc. I eventually got to a place in my life that no matter what happens, I trust that I will handle it. I don't sweat the small or big stuff like I used to. Trust is a simple notion, but it can be difficult to apply. You can practice trust by starting with small things (e.g. trusting your friend will call you back) and build from there. It's tempting to think ahead or try to control the process and outcome, however, oftentimes surrendering and trusting gets you what you want.
This said, I also believe in something I heard another business coach say: "make a decision and make it right.” Getting back to taking action, we often get results when we are really committed to making something work. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, yes it can involve risk, however, I really believe that great rewards come with great risk. If we really want something, we tend to find a way to make it happen. Addicts will figure out a way to make a lot of money each year to indulge whatever habit. If they can do that, we too can accomplish whatever we choose. I felt this way when I went from teaching to coaching. I was super focused to make the latter work and did not entertain other options. I could not imagine doing anything else so, more than five years later, I am still coaching and loving it! I also trusted the process.
As for my relative, the other day she was super excited to tell me she might have another roommate (another friend) and that she has an interview at a place that she really wants to work at. She was close to giving her landlord her notice when these changes of events happened. She now wants to stay. She quietly admitted that had she gone back home, a part of her would feel defeated. She would feel she folded up as opposed to fought.
If you can relate to her story, apply the suggestions of awareness, the 5 Second Rule and trust that you will be able to work it out before thinking about folding up. With these steps you can be purposeful as opposed to reactionary, and your life will reflect that.
Ps. If you have applied these suggestions and are still struggling, please contact me here for a Get Acquainted Call to see if I can help.