“I’m so scared to change jobs and find out it is not a good decision. . . ”
“. . . I’m very afraid I will end up in deadlock . . “
“. . . I am 45 years old and SCARED to change . . . “
There’s a pattern to the emails, LinkedIn chats and Facebook messages I get from readers who are trying to make decisions about what’s next for their career.
And before you label or laugh, understand that these aren’t weak-minded, inexperienced folks.
They include VPs who lead hundreds of people, up-and-comers who’ve innovated and executed in their profession with distinction, and even practitioners who literally save lives every single day.
Even the bravest are scared.
So I get that.
Because I’ve been there, too. I have the “I’M SCARED” t-shirt, tattoo, and whatever other award they’re giving out these days to those accomplished in some arena.
But I work hard to make sure that the very human emotion of being scared doesn’t turn me into a zombie.
And through my daily work with my amazing coaching clients, I’ve learned some magic words that can take you from being scared to change to taking positive, forward action.
Here are the magic words.
Scared to Change? Magic Words to Say to Yourself
#1: “I have made scary changes before, and I survived.”
I often ask my clients about a big, scary decision they’ve had to make in the past.
- They may have chosen to go to college far away from home, knowing no one.
- They may have decided to start or leave a new relationship.
- They may have taken a big risk for the health or well-being for a child, parent, or other loved one.
No matter what the category, most of us have made a major change or two which, if we looked at it closely, was pretty scary at the time, even if we didn’t obsess over it or think it was that scary.
But you made it. And lived to tell the tale.
What was it that you did well? What superpowers did you use? Why did it work–or why didn’t it work?
The point is that you’ve done this before. Don’t let anyone talk you into the fantasy that this time, it’s soooooo different. The surroundings may have changed, what you want may have changed, but you should act with the confidence to know you don’t have to be scared to change, because you’ve done it before.
#2: “I’ll make the best decision I can based on what I know and want right now.”
The future is ambiguous. Don’t try to predict it—even the pros can’t get it right (for proof, go look at what the pundits were saying a year ago re US election circa 2016).
Don’t criticize yourself just because you don’t have a crystal ball.
The only thing you need to know is who you are and what you want. Making your decisions from the foundation of YOU is always more useful than making it from the guess about something else.
#3: “Making a choice–even if I don’t change–will feel better than feeling scared.”
Feeling scared makes us feel out of control. And that makes us even more scared.
Because we like control. We actually crave it. (Why do you think it’s so hard to give up the remote?)
Control is our survival mechanism.
But we only control three things in our world–everything we say, everything we do, and everything we think (more here).
So taking control and making a choice is something that can make us instantly feel better.
Even if our choice is to NOT make a choice right now.
This isn’t procrastination. It’s bandwidth management.
Here’s how it works. Let’s look at David. David is a really successful digital marketer. Things weren’t awesome in his career, but they were, well, okay.
At the same time, he was getting married and wanted to start a family. So he actively DECIDED to not spend time worrying about making a change in his career in the short term.
But what he DID is set a date when he’d ask himself the question again. He put it on his calendar, just like any appointment in the future.
When the date arrived, he stopped and started thinking once more about what he wanted in his career. And looking at what he wanted, he started to develop a plan to move on to the next opportunity.
David avoided several months of being scared to change by simply DECIDING that it wasn’t the time to face the decision. And then when the date arrived, since he’d promised himself he’d decide then, he did.
Making a choice is a stronger move than being scared to change. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.