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What are you afraid of?

A week ago, I published a workbook on the topic of how to choose a career direction, and I have promoted its existence over the social media outlets. What followed is a very interesting response, which I think is typical to many of us out there. I received a phone call from an individual I got to know during my years in recruiting. He is an executive level professional and currently considering a major change in his career. Seeing my offering, he was enthusiastic, and yet, he hesitated to spend ninety nine cents on it. “What is holding you back?” I asked, “It’s obviously not the cost or not knowing me.” After a prolonged silence, he answered: “Maybe I am just afraid to find out that I wasted my life.”

I truly respect his honesty and think that he represents the overwhelming majority of the workforce. You see, 80% of the employed hate getting up in the morning, and yet, they keep their nose down to the grinding wheel, afraid to lift their eyes to the sky and allow themselves to imagine having a better future. The issue we are dealing with is our mental conditioning to make decisions, which is driven by a fear of making a mistake. We are afraid of ourselves, our boss, economy, aging, of not being able to pay the mortgage on our mini-mansion, and of what the spouse, family, friends, neighbors, or strangers might think of us.

Why is an elephant that weighs two tons not ripping himself free from being held captive by a chain two inches in diameter? Because in his youth, he unsuccessfully tried to set himself free, and from then on, gave up trying. This very pattern of behavior was carried over into his adulthood.

Some more than others, but we all come with a baggage. But as adults, it’s time to let go and stop with this self-destructive behavior and decide that enough is enough. Is a 9 to 5 sentence and a steady paycheck what life is all about? What about being fully fulfilled utilizing your natural talents? Shouldn't that account for something?

Since the fear of failure is the biggest dream killer, be very mindful of how you rationalize your decisions, and if relevant, take action and do something about exploring your career options. Just like in traditional math, there is only one answer. Everything else is twisted tales we tell ourselves to justify our decision to remain passive. Failing is not being a failure, but giving up on yourself and not trying is.

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