Getting to Know Our 2 Kinds of Fear

When I realized that I was on a path to a life that I didn’t really want anymore, it was terrifying.  I had just turned 30 and if felt like I had nothing to show for my years and it seemed like I was still pretty far away from where I wanted to be.

I had spent most of my twenties on a path to be a university professor.  I went to university, took extra courses, volunteered, learned Latin, and even lived and taught abroad to learn Spanish and get teaching experience.  Plus, I was using the Law of Attraction pretty hard all along the way.

But the week of my 30th birthday, I got news that I wasn’t getting in to the grad school of my dreams.  And I didn’t get in the next year either.  Did I really want to try again or was it time to start something new?

I always thought that if I just stayed in school, everything would work out because the path and the plan would always be set out for me: Undergrad, Masters, PhD, professor, tenure, retire, die. Easy.

But starting something on my own meant that there was no set path and this was both horrifying and freeing at the same time.  Plus, wasn’t I just giving up too easily?  What about all the time and money I had spent in my twenties beefing up my resume and schmoozing with potential references?   Wasn’t it plain stupid to just walk away?

But every day, as I thought of it more and more, the answer became more clear and I had to just let it go. 

I finally realized that part of why I wanted to be a professor in the first place was that I wanted to write and teach.  After a lot of meditation and hours Googling, I discovered that maybe I could write and teach as a coach.  Now, you think I’d be thrilled but, actually, I felt even worse.  I found every way to put myself down because I should have realized it 8 years earlier.  This created so much more doubt in myself that I almost quit the whole idea right there, thinking I should just stay safe and keep my day job.

A few months later, I finally got over the shoulda, coulda, wouldas, and I was able to see all the possibilities of the business I could create and the people I could help.  So, you’d think I would be filled with amazing motivation and drive, right? No.  I was filled with fear and doubt and more insecurity than ever. 

But it was also during this time that I had one of my biggest ‘ahas’.

When I was applying for grad school, I was in agony.  It was a really trying process and I felt like throwing up every day.  I had no backup plan if it didn’t work, plus I was pretty sure I was about to have no life once I was back in school and paying back a ridiculous amount of tuition loans.  That was fear at its most unkind.  But I thought that I had to power through to get to the good stuff on the other side – ten or so years down the line.

Creating a new business with my name on it and my ideas running through it was scary too BUT it was a different kind of fear because I also felt excited.  I knew it would be hard, but I also saw how fun it would be. I didn’t feel like throwing up – I felt like jumping up and down on my couch every time I had a new idea about what I could create.

I wouldn’t be tied down to a semester or exam schedule.  I could make my own hours, I could doodle all over my notebooks, I could even write in the first person!

So, you’d think I would be excited to tell everyone about my new plan, right? Nope.

I didn’t want to tell anyone.  There was even a part of me that still didn’t want to admit that I wanted to start this up.  Again, I almost gave up when I realized I would actually have to tell other people.  More fear…

And then finally…

Excitement.

There it was.  The clue to telling me what kind of fear I needed to follow for growth and reaching new successes – not the kind of fear that tells me to stay away from particular people, neighbourhoods, or certain higher education programs.

So, I created my business, following my good fears and avoiding the bad ones.  I knew from my Law of Attraction training that you always want to feel good and it tells you you’re on the right path.  This was the “good fear” that everyone was talking about. This is the one I needed to listen to because it was a clue to where my soul really wanted me to go.  And this kind of fear created such a buzz in my system because it was so excited it could burst and had to be strong enough to bust those initial doubts and persist. 

What I thought was “good fear” in my early days of university was actually a very superficial “good” – I thought it was good because it was a sensible plan, but in actuality, I didn’t feel great about it.  Oh, hindsight!

This week is my second year in my coaching business for people starting over in their 30s and I’ve decided to put out a new ebook on this very topic of fear, doubt and starting over.  Check it out for FREE this Friday, March 18th at ashewoodward.com.  And if you’re ready to start your new project, let’s chat about your goals in a strategy session.  Get in touch at support@ashewoodward.com and tell me about it!

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