As of this writing, it’s been almost four months since I left my job without another full time one lined up. When prompted to think of a time that I surprised myself, I immediately thought of my life post job.
For much of my life, I played by the rules. I went to school, I found a job, I was nice to people, I was responsible. Basically I was the least likely to take a leap of this sort and a bit unsure whether I was making the right decision and how I would react given the sea of gray I was about to jump into, my strong preference for black and white clarity and my tendency to worry and feel anxious.
Well, four months in I realize that I’m not much clearer in terms of a direction than I was when I took the leap.
Throughout it all though, I’ve surprised myself by staying relatively calm and together as I navigate this space of multiple unknowns.
Yes, I’ve had freak out moments and crying fits, but overall I’ve surprised myself by how much I’ve learned to lean into and accept a greater level of uncertainty than I’ve ever allowed myself to face before.
I’m getting the feeling that this leap may not have been about finding the “right” path in the end, but really just a chance to get more acquainted with the uncertainty of life. And as much as I still like to know and feel like I’m in control, I am beginning to get more used to living in that space where I don’t know what’s next.
Control is an illusion really. And even when we think we know what we’re doing or what’s to come or even what’s best for us, we don’t.
I’m slowly (very slowly) seeing the beauty in living a life where you follow your interests and points of growth and let go of the outcome or some well defined 10 year plan.
So if in the end, that is the main message of this time, so be it. I’m grateful that I have the clarity to see that message and fabulous inner and external support to help me along the way.
So that’s DeBora’s story! I love how she’s embraced fear as part of her life and not let it stop her from moving forward. What did you learn? Got any questions for DeBora? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
And if you want to show DeBora some personalized love or just learn more about her books and what else she’s working on, you can find her at her website here.
Have you heard that phrase before?
If not, it means that you are spending so much time considering the options that you never actually make a decision.
A lot of us do this, especially those of us who struggle with fear.
When we have these huge life decisions to make, it feels like the stakes are raised, the importance level is set to high and what we choose could mean life or death.
I know that may sound dramatic, but just scan your own life for a few seconds.
Have you had to make a big decision in the past (or right now)?
Whether to stay in your job or quit? Whether to write a book or not? Whether to get married or not? What kind of business to start?
Did you find something in your memory?
How did you feel?
Some other not so good feeling or emotion?
Decision making can be scary and uncomfortable so it’s totally fine if you felt that way.
But what if I told you that not making a decision is actually the biggest part of what’s uncomfortable about decision making?
Well, it is.
I’ll give you an example from my life.
In the first week at home after quitting my job, it became clear that I needed to decide on a direction I would go in.
I began to brainstorm things I could do (write a book, do a sewing project, offer research services, create an information product, etc.). But I had no clear idea of what I wanted to do first.
Thus began the “analysis paralysis.”
Day and night I thought about each option, I talked about them, wrote about them, and considered each one again and again.
But no decision got made.
Instead I felt anxious, my shoulders and jaw were perpetually in a state of tension, I felt overwhelmed and frustrated AND I wasn’t moving forward with any of my ideas.
I wanted so desperately to make the “right” decision that I didn’t see that I was making myself more miserable than if I just chose something, anything, and started taking steps towards that.
While in that state of angst, I read two passages from two books that helped me get moving. Maybe they’ll help you too!
“By exposing you to real-life experiences and seeing how they feel to you, action will help you do much better thinking than you could ever hope to do sitting and weighing all the theoretical factors. Even action in the “wrong” direction is informative.”
Barbara Sher, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was
And this one is a bit more spiritual so if it doesn’t resonate with you, just toss it aside.
“You must go out into the world so that your manifestations can reach you, so that the Universe can adjust your sails, and so that little serendipities, coincidences and happy accidents can fall onto your path that wouldn’t have otherwise if you had sat at home, waiting for a breakthrough.”
Both of these passages got me to finally decide on a direction (creating an information product) and almost immediately I felt lighter and more at ease even though I’m still not sure this is the “right” direction for me to take right now.
This simple realization made all the difference: it’s not so much about making the “right” decision, what really matters is making a decision, any decision, and working things out along the way.
So if you are in the midst of making a decision and feel like I did, just know that choosing a direction, any direction, will likely make you feel better.
If you need help deciding, using a random list generator or Wheel Decide can help you arbitrarily choose a direction. Remember, “even action in the wrong direction is informative” and making a decision and taking steps in that direction will teach you more about yourself and what you want than delaying that decision ever could.
I hope this is helpful and gets you moving.
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts on decision making and any insights that popped up for you when reading!
I’d love to hear from you!
*The links to the two books above are affiliate links. If you purchase the books (which I hope you do, they’re super helpful!), I will get a small commission, with no extra cost to you! It’s an easy way to support Hug Your Fear while giving yourself the gift of a helpful book! Thank you!
As many of you may have read before, I recently quit my job without another one lined up.
I quit for several reasons, but the main one was that I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing and I felt like time was running out for me to get on with it and do something more fitting.
The only problem with this reason is that I didn’t (and still don’t, really) have a clear vision for what I want to do next.
I was able to secure some part time work that will help stretch my savings, but truth be told it’s not work that makes my heart sing any more than my last job didn’t.
So here I am. With a bit more time on my hands and a big question mark following me around.
I’ve jumped into the abyss, a space of formlessness, where I’m not fully sure what’s to come.
And while I don’t really enjoy not knowing, I’m not nearly as afraid as I would have been a year ago.
Starting this blog, writing about fear hugging every week and interviewing others about fear has taught me more than I realized until now. In a way it’s prepared me for this moment.
Yes, I feel some fear about being underemployed and not having a fully defined next step, but I’m in this space anyway.
I took the leap.
I’m taking this risk.
I’m putting into use all that I’ve been writing and asking about this past year.
I’m feeling the fear and doing it anyway and in that sense I feel very much alive.
I have an irrational, yet comforting belief that I was meant to leap when I did and that I will be a better me for doing so.
I also strongly believe that my example can help encourage others to take big or small leaps of their own, even if they have no idea how things will turn out and especially if they struggle with fear.
So whatever you wish to do, whatever abyss you might be in or be thinking about jumping into, take heart, you can do it.
Life is short. Who knows what tomorrow, a week, a month or a year might bring?
Being unsure about what you want or what might happen does not excuse you from trying.
As I go forth further into this abyss, I predict that some of what I write or how I write will change.
How can it not?
My most sincere hope is that what I share remains helpful and encouraging.
Until next time,
Meet Terra Heilman. Terra quit her job to strike out on her own in the area of waste reduction. Terra shares how she hugged her fear and took the leap and also has some supremely helpful advice for those of you who may be struggling to take that first step!
My name is Terra Heilman and I am very interested in helping people live a little lighter on this planet. I have a B.S. in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University and did outdoor and environmental education for years. I had an experience with a waste exchange while studying abroad in New Zealand and it always stuck with me.
In 2006, I started looking to enter the world of waste and in 2007, I got a job with a garbage hauler as a waste reduction specialist. I spent the next 6.5 years educating my community on proper recycling procedures. The more I learned about recycling, though, the more I realized that while recycling helps to lighten the environmental footprint of our purchased goods, there were other much more impactful decisions and behaviors that humans could employ to be a little more friendly to our environment.
My scary thing was quitting my job to strike out on my own.
I would say the scariest thing about that decision was the financial piece of the question. If I quit a stable job, could I make it on my own? Would I be able to pay my bills? If I stayed, would it slowly kill me? What if I left and did…nothing? What if I couldn’t make it on my own?
A lot of factors helped me make the decision.
The first and foremost was that I had a mental break in February of that year. I had gotten to the point where I just couldn’t face getting up each morning and spending 8+ hours a day in a cube any more. I’m the type of person who gets bored very easily. Basically, once I master something, I need the next thing to tackle or I become stagnant and depressed. I realized that my position wasn’t challenging me anymore and I needed to do something about it.
Some other factors that ultimately helped me were preparation and research. I started to save money (I’ve always been pretty good about saving anyway.) and would find myself having internal conversations that went something like: “If I made absolutely NO money, how long would these savings carry me? Then what?” I had lots of conversations with others about my talents and about “jobs” that I could do if I got desperate, financially speaking. I knew I had skills that I could fall back on and it helped to have my friends and family confirm those thoughts with me.
Finally, my partner was a huge piece of the puzzle. We’re extremely lucky in that around the same time I quit, he took on more responsibility (and a larger paycheck) at his company and that has allowed us to live this new lifestyle. I pay less of the monthly bills, but I also spend more of my time doing things around the house-cooking, cleaning, etc-some of which we used to pay for or argue over.
Again, I would say preparation and research. I read a lot of blogs, articles, books, etc that help me to tackle what I’m currently working on. I also have a few partners that are helping me in different ways.
Do your prep and then jump.
Part of your prep should be to see if there’s any baby steps you can take RIGHT NOW that will move you closer to your goal. Break it down into distinct steps and prioritize them.
For instance: I had the idea that I might be able to work part time at my old job. Unfortunately, the company didn’t ultimately take me up on my offer, but it was a step in the direction that I wanted to be headed. I had gotten to that point of “I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing,” so when I tried to change my situation and it didn’t work, it forced me to come up with another plan.
I would also say that no matter how much prep and/or research you do, the decision will still be scary. I told everyone that asked me that my decision was equal parts terrifying and exciting. And it was! It was never 100% exhilarating or 100% terrifying. I could see some people be so scared of the decision that they just get stuck in dreaming, wishing or even the research phase forever. That would be really sad, I think.
We have a very short time on this planet and we better do our best to enjoy it. If you’re stuck in a dead end job or a bad relationship or ________ (you fill in the blank) the only person that can make the decision (ultimately) to get you out of it is you.
Another piece of advice: You’ll be amazed at the amount of people who will be around to cheer you on when you make the leap. I had a few people say negative things to me about my decision, but mostly, it was support and love from all around me.
I’d like to mention the 21 hours report. This report literally changed my life and got me to start thinking about climate change, sustainability, under employment, over work, etc as interconnected issues and inspired me to start looking at living the 21 hours “lifestyle.” I now (as I mentioned earlier) take time to do things like can fresh produce, make a large majority of our meals, shop at the farmer’s market, etc. These are things that I didn’t always have the time for when I worked 40+ hours a week. Not only do I enjoy doing them, they are lightening the environmental burden that our household puts on the planet. I also find inspiration in Dan Pink’s work.
So that’s Terra’s story. What do you think?
Here’s what stood out to me. Terra touches on what I have found to be the backbone of hugging your fear: planning, lots of support and action. She shows it by her example of how she reached her scary goal, but she also shows it in the words of wisdom she has for all of us.
I started highlighting Terra’s answer to my question about what she would say to someone struggling to take that next step and realized I had highlighted the whole thing! Re-read that section again and again, I know I will. Terra is spot on!
Until next time,