A month ago I quit my job without having another one lined up.
Think I’m crazy? Take a ticket and get in line. Think I’m way braver than you are? On this count, you’re probably wrong. When I did it I felt terrified and filled with doubts, but this step, this leap of faith, is one of the many I feel is on my path towards living the life I’ve been dreaming of living and I’ll likely write more about the specifics as time goes on.
Through it all, I’ve found 6 things that have helped make this leap less scary and more enjoyable and I think they can be helpful not just for quitting your job, but for any kind of leap that you’ve been thinking of taking.
1. Prepare as best as you can
When you hear stories about people quitting their job or doing something else that sounds risky, the tendency is to immediately discount them as something beyond your reach. “I could never do that! She’s just lucky! He doesn’t have the obstacles that I have.”
Well, I have news (or a reminder) for you: most things are possible with enough planning and consistent action taking. That is how I quit my job. I thought about it for a while. I saved money over time. I determined some possible options for making money beyond my savings. I talked to people who had done similar things. I set the date. And then I leaped.
Of course I’m oversimplifying it here, but I’m sure if you sit and think about whatever you’ve been dreaming of doing (opening a bookstore, taking a trip around the world, telling your boyfriend how you really feel about your relationship), there are ways to prepare for it.
And while preparation does not completely remove fear, it gets your idea out of your head and into the light of possibility and helps you feel less afraid, giving you a path in which to move forward. And planning can actually be fun, letting you flex your dream muscles and anticipate your future.
2. Let go of the outcome
There is a limit to preparation though. This is where letting go of the outcome comes into place. You can never know with 100% certainty where your leap will take you. And that’s ok.
Demanding certainty actually makes fear worse.
When I decided to quit and set the date, my mind went wild. Some nights, I would just sit in bed with my mind racing through one scary, unanswered question after another.
“What if my money runs out faster than I expect? What if I’m making a mistake? What if I can’t find “in the mean time” work? What if things turn out worse than they were before?”
Well, what if? These might be great questions, but I could never find a fully satisfying answer because I can’t see the future and neither can you.
Not knowing can be beautiful and interesting if you let it. Certainty about the future is an illusion. And letting fear convince you that you can’t move forward until you know what will happen means that you stay stuck where you are.
If you’re still struggling with this, I read the most comforting blog post about being ok with uncertainty by my friend, Vishnu. Perhaps it will give you comfort too. Check it out here.
3. Savor the good
When you’re taking a leap that feels scary, there is a tendency to overlook the good things that are happening in your life as a result of the leap in favor of worrying over what might happen.
Yes, you may be scared and unsure, but you’re doing it! You’re taking that leap you’ve been thinking of! That is cause for celebration so make sure you take the time every day to savor the awesome things that are happening.
The method of celebration doesn’t matter; it’s that you take time every day to do it.
You can make a list or keep a journal or take photos or draw a picture or spend two minutes jumping up and down and pumping your fists into the air (that last one is especially fun!). Just make sure you find a way to really let the good sink in.
Savoring and noticing the good makes you notice even more good. It also helps divert your attention from how afraid you might feel.
4. Reach out right
Support from other people is so important, but only if you get support from the right people.
Reach out to people who are supportive, loving and honest. Stay away from people who encourage your fear and doubt to grow or who try to pull you back down to earth because they’re projecting their fears onto you.
This may sound harsh, but taking a leap of faith requires focus, courage and persistence and those things need to be protected as you learn how to use them.
I told very few people about my leap in advance of taking it and when I finally announced my plans, I still reserved the full details for people who fit the first description.
And sometimes it’s hard to tell who is who up front. That’s ok. As soon as you get any hint that you might be reaching out to someone who is poised with their bubble bursting push pin ready to inspire fear and doubt in you, walk away.
This is not to say that you should ignore what the people around you have to say. By all means listen, but notice within yourself whether what is being shared is helpful and said from a place of loving care or if it’s not. You’ll know the difference by the way you feel.
5. Over consume similar stories
Thank the Universe (or God, or other humans) for the internet and books. It’s incredibly likely that the leap you’re taking or thinking of taking has been taken by someone else. And even if you can’t find someone who’s taken your exact leap, there is a high chance that someone’s done something similar. Seek out these stories online, in the bookstore or library and in person.
We tend to be more like each other than different so if you see or hear an inspiring story about someone else’s leap, just know that you can do it too. Take pleasure and solace in reading or listening to those stories. Seek them out every day and treat them like nourishment.
And if you really want to boost this nourishment, ask someone who you admire for taking a leap similar to your own if they would spend a few minutes talking with you in person, over the phone or on Skype. This allows you to ask questions, get feedback from someone in the know and you might even make a new friend!
6. Find your motivation
When leading up to taking your leap, there are lots of opportunities to give up. Lots! You need a motivation to keep you going when the fear gets so loud and you want to turn back around.
I like to think of motivation as a quiet inner reserve of energy that you can tap into when times get tough.
One of my motivations is death and wanting to live the happiest and most fulfilled life with no regrets. Knowing that my time is limited has helped me over and over when I’ve considered turning back towards “safety.”
When I consider that I will die, and that I want to live a life without regrets, I feel motivated to keep taking steps forward.
I’ve sat with the truth of my mortality so much that in times when I’ve worried over whether I was making the right choice, just thinking to myself, “I’m going to die. I don’t have forever,” has given me so much comfort, reminded me of my goals and gave me the encouragement I needed to keep moving forward.
Choose a motivation that matters to you. It doesn’t have to be death (although it would be cool if it was). All that matters is that when you think of it, it helps renew your energy to keep moving forward through the fear.
So those are just a few ways that you can decrease your fear and boost your enjoyment when taking a leap. Did anything stick out to you? Have any insights from your own leap?
Until next time,