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.
Today, 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 show them a step or two. And it just might be the answer they were looking for.
Honestly, with most of the articles I write on this column, I am usually talking about some gaping flaw I see in myself. I have messed up things before, not just once. 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 sometimes fail at them.
But here is the difference. Each time, I try really hard to see where I went wrong. I ask such questions as how did I mess it up this time? What can I do next time to make it better? I then look at tactics I know have worked in the past, and I try to find new angles to 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 of these cases, I am really thinking about the same thing – fear. I am afraid of falling off 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 sometimes fear of losing someone I love and care about. Until recently, I was even afraid of taking career risks—I was happy with a job that simply afforded me a comfortable life.
As countless people have said, fear is an incredibly powerful motivator. But it can be a negative motivator too. It can cause you to paralyze. It can cause you to not make the decisions you need to make. I keep the paralysis at bay by looking back at myself 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 the 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 are faced with something that you fear and you are 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 are willing to actually do something to change things in your life.
Blessed week-end to you and yours as you shake off that fear and take action to your desired future! You can do it!