One of the big topics that I cover with my clients is what is it that you want out of life and how can coaching help? Getting specific answers to that question creates a really good foundation for them to start building the life they want. But without fail, the first answer that I always get is a resounding: “I have no f*cking clue”.
Now, most people would stop asking right there. But I’m tenacious fella and I dig deeper. It turns out, when they say “I don’t know”, what they actually mean 80% of the time is “I do know what I want, but…
1. What will others think of me?
This comes up especially when we talk monetary goals. A lot of people feel a lot of guilt about wanting to make good money. Sometimes because they have been brought up with the idea that money is the root of all evil, but sometimes because they don’t want to be judged as “ambitious”. As if it’s somehow a virtue to be poor and passive. Now, there’s no doubt about it, some people will judge you. They will judge you for being poor, then for being rich, then for being overweight, then for having abs. Sometimes there’s just no winning. It sounds like a cliché at this point, but you really are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
But other times you might have a genuine moral dilemma inside of yourself for wanting something. So here’s the advice: No matter what you want, there’s someone out there that wants the same thing. If the people around you would not support your dreams and goals, then find the people that will and surround yourselves with them. You’ll learn that not everyone thinks the same and that it’s ok to have dreams and work towards them. You will never win an argument against a judgmental sibling on the topic of capitalism. Just move on and build new relationships. It's one of the reasons why I started Life Engineering.
2. What if I fail?
What if you fall flat on your face and suddenly prove to yourself that you’re good for nothing, have no skills and don’t deserve to be happy? Maybe I’m exaggerating. But that’s the fundamental fear that people have. Their self-worth is tied to some measure of success that they don’t measure up to. By not being that person they feel miserable and they imagine that by becoming such a person they will suddenly be confident and happy about themselves.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Just like drugs don’t solve your problems, success won’t fill that emptiness either. Learn to love yourself first, then strive for everything else. But sometimes, the people around also project their own fear of failure upon you: “You’ll never be successful, that’s impossible, you can’t do that”. Then not only you have to prove to yourself that you are worthy, but you also have to prove your family as well, doubling the burden. If that’s your case, see solution in point number 1.
3. What if I succeed?
Sometimes, fear of success is actually bigger than the fear of failure. If you don’t believe me, look-up the imposter’s syndrome. Every new entrepreneur suffers from it and it’s no joke. And it arises from a very rational train of thought: If I succeed, I will suddenly be in a position where the spotlight is on me, where I have to defend my ideas and my position in public, where people will come after me because they disagree, where I might not deserve all the praise that I get, or some other thing that I am just incapable of handling.
So your subconscious brain sabotages you before you even start. There is no easy fix to this. All you can do is acknowledge the fear within yourself and do it anyway. Trying to reassure yourself that you will take it one step at a time and see what happens. Because eventually, your level of comfort grows, you become used to the new environment and your fear of success slowly dissipates.
4. It will take me away from other things I love.
If that crosses your mind, there might be one of two reasons. First, you might not really want it. and that’s ok. Lots of people confuse what others want for them and what they genuinely want for themselves. If your mom wants you to attend engineering and you don’t. Then no amount of convincing will make you actually want it. It might make you do it, but you’ll never want it for yourself. And you'll resent the person that pushed you to do it in the first place.
Second, assuming you actually want the thing you say you ant, and
you have a genuine concern for other things that you genuinely want then there’s only one way of solving this dilemma: priorities. Setting your priorities right means making some things more important than others. It means some things get time in your limited 24-hours per day and others don’t. AND THAT’S OK. And if the thing you want is not important enough for you to sacrifice what you are already doing then DON’T. Sometimes the things that make you happiest are right in front of you and there’s nothing for you to do but to enjoy the moment and stop thinking about what you could be doing instead.
5. It requires so much work.
Yes it does. No matter what you want, the most problematic thing is making it happen. If you feel like working on your goals and dreams is a chore then welcome to the club. Pople think that the road to success is paved bunnies, rainbows and candy stands, but it’s looks more like pain, misery and suffering. Every time you try to reach for a goal that is outside of your grasp you have to venture outside of your comfort zone. And that, by nature, is uncomfortable at best and outright dreadful at worst.
The solution? Learn to be indifferent, or even enjoy it. In the army they call it embracing the suck. Getting hate online for what you do? Oh well, nothing I can do about it. Just had a fight with your boss because he doesn’t listen to your innovative ideas? F*ck yeah, let’s do it again! Stressed for a big presentation? Bring it on! Yes it resembles self-flagellation a lot. But honestly, I think we all have to be a little crazy to be on this journey anyway, might as well learn to enjoy it. You won’t succeed without that.
What to do about the fears.
So here we go. Now what do you do about all those fears? Start by acknowledging them. Remember that this is about finding what you want in life. By understanding that you do know what you want, you’re just not sure how to get it, it makes it so much easier to process. Writing those desires and fears down is the first thing I have my clients do and it works miracles. When unspoken a fear is usually paralyzing, when put down on paper, we can start rationalizing and convince ourselves of the opposite. So take a page in your journal and write!
Not sure where to start? Take a look at our coaching program to see how we can help.. Schedule your orientation session today to get your bearings!