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What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

May 18, 2009
tags:

Recipe for a Satisfying Life

Ingredients:

  • The ability to make decisions out of love, not fear
  • A desire for true happiness and peace
  • A dash of daring

Directions:

Back when I was a cog in the corporate machine I was evaluated by my supervisor yearly. I was asked to provide a list of goals that I wished to attain for the following year. These were quite different than my life goals (most of which, at that time, revolved around dark chocolate and getting more sleep); they had to be serious and reachable within the next year.
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After presenting my list to my director I was asked to narrow down my top five goals, ones that I wanted to achieve within six months. One of the items that I determined to be in my top five was “Increase my supervisory skills through research and reading books on the subject.” (Side note: Thank GOD I got outta there! This is not me!!!)
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We were on a budget at work, like most places, so I headed to the local library and picked up a few books that had words like “managers” and “leaders” and “empowered” in them. One of these books mentioned another book that was helpful to one manager, called Who Moved My Cheese? I had heard of this book over the years and decided to give it a shot – I mean, it’s got “cheese” in the title and I could read it during work hours – what’s not to love?
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If you’ve never read this book, I’d recommend it. It’s a short, quick read and I won’t go into great detail here, but there are four characters and one of them, “Haw” (as opposed to his counter-part, “Hem”) breaks out of his usual routine to go on a journey. The journey is to find his now-lost “cheese”; his happiness. As Haw goes along on his journey, he writes phrases on the walls of the maze that he is navigating. One of them really struck me: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

What a bold, brilliant question. When I read the book I started asking myself that question when I felt nerves or anxiety. My answer was never something like “Go Sky Diving” or “Swim with Sharks”.

As it turns out, the answer for me was, “If I wasn’t afraid I’d quit this job that makes me cry every week, start pursuing more creative avenues like making crafts, blogging, and writing, and become a life coach so I can reach out to others and help them live happier lives.” So that’s what I did.

To tell you that I wasn’t afraid would be a total crock – but I made these moves in my life because they made my insides feel like light was bursting through them; to be able to be creative and reach out to others on a daily basis made my heart sing. Well, until I actually thought about how scary it would be to quit and then rely on myself to start my own business, then I got really scared and freaked out. But it didn’t stop me. I knew, deep down inside, that this was what I wanted to do.

The point here is to find out what you really, truly want to do with your life. It doesn’t even have to do anything with career, though often we make employment and career decisions based out of fear and the need for security rather than what our souls really want for us. When you ask yourself what you’d do if you weren’t afraid, your answers are probably going to scare the crap out of you. Congratulations, you’re on the right track!

I’m not telling you to quit your job today, to leave your lover, to become a circus performer. I’m telling you to take a hard look at what you’d be doing if your fears didn’t take over your life. We all have a purpose and a gift. No, not all of us are math geniuses, fantastic musicians, or politician material. Your gift might be customer service. Glass blowing. Running. Making peace. Dog grooming.

Think about what makes you feel alive. Then take a step in that direction. Then take another one. Keep going, even if you’re afraid. It will pay off in more joy, more energy, and more satisfaction.

Be Joyful!

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