Three years ago, I was incredibly scared when I hit my financial bottom. Our second son was just born but I had what seemed like an insurmountable pile of debt sitting in front of me. The visions I had of my future career were shattered and crumbling. I was scared. I was sick. I didn’t have any answers to any of these things going on in my life.
What I needed more than anything at that moment was for someone to sit down beside me, tell me that I actually could overcome these things and perhaps show me a first step or two on a path to a better life. Fortunately for me, my wife was there for me.
Every time I write this column, I want to reach someone who is in a position like that. I want to be that person that sits down next to them, tells them that they actually can do this, and maybe shows them a step or two. And it just might be that whatever I write helps them find the answer.
Honestly, with most of the articles I write on this column, I am usually talking about some gaping flaw I see in myself. I mess things up constantly. I buy things I shouldn’t buy. I find myself wanting things that, when I think about them rationally, I know I shouldn’t want them. I sometimes don’t put all of my thoughts down in the right order or in the right way. I don’t use my time as well as I should. I try to establish habits, and fairly often I fail at them.
Each time, I try really hard to see where I went wrong. How did I mess it up this time? What can I do next time to make it better? I’ll look at tactics I know have worked in the past, and I’ll try to find new angles on them. Those failures—and attempts to understand them — are often the genesis for the things I write about here.
The catch is that, in both these cases, I’m really thinking about the same thing. Fear! I am afraid. I am afraid of falling off of the positive path I have built over the past several years. I am afraid of not taking care of my children as well as I could and because of that, seeing them suffer in some fashion, whether it is not having enough food on the table or a roof over their head or something else they need as a foundation for a great life. I am afraid of taking career risks, and I am afraid of not taking enough career risks.
As countless people have said, fear is an incredibly powerful motivator. But it is a negative motivator. It can cause you to paralyse. It can cause you to not make the decisions you need to make. I keep the paralysis at bay by looking back at myself four years ago. If I had let the fear of that moment paralyse me, I would have lost everything. If you stand still, the fear will crush you.
With that in mind, I try to turn my life over and over in my hands every day. What am I doing wrong? What can I be doing better? How can I make sure I don’t fall off of this positive path? Then, I step forward, down one path or another. If I don’t do that —if I just stand still — the fear catches up.
It is action in a positive direction that keeps the fear at bay. It is action in a positive direction that enables me to pick myself up when I make a mistake.
All of the things I have done over the last several years to get myself on the right path might seem like an impressive list. It might seem like it takes real courage to give up on life’s expensive pleasures or to push hard toward making a desired career. That is not the real courage.
The real courage happens when you’re faced with something that you fear and you’re still able to take action and not be locked down by it. It doesn’t matter how big or how small that step is, but that you’re willing to actually do something to change things in your life.
Have a blessed weekend as you shake off that fear and take action to your desired future! You can do it!