You don’t have to let fear of the unknown stop you from blazing your own trail

For years my default behaviour when confronted with a difficult choice has been to go for the comfortable and secure route. To not cross the bridge that would lead me to more adventurous but less comfortable and secure trails.

That first started to change when I decided to quit my job as a project manager and consultant in the corporate world. I only knew I wanted a different life; one with fulfilling and energizing work instead of a job I found draining.

I walked out the front door of the building I had worked in for 17+ years toward an uncertain future as a freelance / interim manager with only one client and lots of uncertainties. I was terrified and excited all at the same time. The trail was perhaps not totally new – I was after all still working in the same field – but going it alone was certainly a lot more adventurous than I had ever imagined myself daring to be.

Four years later I had gathered a lot of experience with uncertainty and knew I could handle a lot of it a whole lot better than I ever thought. When on my way home after a meeting I had to pull to the side of the road to have a power nap (again!) only 10 minutes from my house, I found myself facing another bridge leading to adventurous trails. This time I decided to cross and see what was waiting for me on the other side.

I was finally going to do what I had been dreaming of for as long as I could remember: live and work abroad in an environment where I could feel completely at home and at ease …

The next day I had put my house on the market. Two weeks later I had sold my house (in a steeply declining market). This nearly caused me to have a heart attack. I had thought it would take months to sell the place which would give me time to settle into this idea of moving to a different country (Austria) and think about what I would do when I got there.

Six months later I moved out of my house and into someone else’s apartment where I would live, until I could move to Austria. Once again, I was terrified. I had a good cry on the stairs of what no longer was my house before I handed over the keys to the new owners. What had I done?

Thankfully this feeling passed pretty quickly and I soon found myself working excitedly towards the moment I would actually get in the car and move to the mountains.

Why am I telling you all this?

  • Like you I treasured the comfort and security of a job above all else. Why leave all that behind for the insecurity of a freelance existence? What I found was that I treasured the independence and freedom it gave me. I valued enormously the choice it afforded me to decide whether or not I wanted to take on a particular job or client. AMAZING!
  • Like you I was afraid of not knowing where my next pay check was going to come from. What I found was that the insecurity that comes with that, didn’t faze me at all. Not even when, due to a skiing injury and a declining economy, I found myself benched with no income for a couple of months and living of my savings. I trusted myself, my abilities and my reputation and was confident I would find a new assignment. Which I did! AMAZING!
  • Like you I lived in the land of “What if it doesn’t work out?” I decided to flip that question and ask “What if it all does work out?”, because a positive mind set is so much more energizing. I’m a firm believer in putting your energy in things you want to realize. So putting my energy towards making it work seemed a lot more empowering and make a lot more sense, than putting it towards having things not work out. And if it didn’t work out, I could always come to another decision and step onto a different trail. Until then I keep working at realizing my dream while already living in my dream mountainous surroundings! Again, AMAZING!
  • Like you I admired people who had the courage to go after their dreams. Only to find that staying on the comfortable and secure paths would lead to another more of the same which scared me more than the dangers of the adventurous trails. So I went after my dreams and without intending to do so, I became one of those people others admire. This too, to me, is pretty AMAZING!

I guess what I’m trying to say, is this:

I am like you!

When I find myself confronted with a choice between easy and difficult, I’m often tempted to choose easy. I know I can walk that trail comfortably. It’s not (really) challenging and I’m secure in the knowledge I can handle anything I’ll find on my path. To be totally honest. I myself stepping onto those paths still.

However, more and more I decide to pass on the easy and safe option, and instead opt for the more challenging one instead.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to John Adams in April 1816: “How much pain have cost us, the evils which have never happened?”.

Every time I choose the less certain and less safe path, I prove this saying to be true and I am amazed at the results. Almost always, it turns out I was making up stories about how scary something was, when in actuality it wasn’t nearly as frightening as I had made it out to be.

When afraid to blaze your own trail, maybe you're afraid because of a story you tell yourself #BlazeYourOwnTrail Click To Tweet

So don’t let your fear of the unknown stop you. Don’t stay on the comfortable and secure trails. Dare to step out onto that bridge taking you to more challenging ones. If it doesn’t work out, you can always turn onto a safer path.

Without stepping onto that bridge you will never find out how amazingly beautiful the challenging trail of daring and spiritual practice can be.

Your turn! When faced with a challenge, which is the trail you most often walk? What would your life look like if you were to choose the path less safe and certain?

Go on…. and please let me know. Your thoughts and answers will really help me be a better coach and guide to the people who need and want it most.

As always…

Go dare greatly!

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