Is there such a thing as a fearless dreamer?
When someone tells me they are fearless I have this overwhelming urge to immediately yell, “Bull!”. Come on, we’re all afraid. It’s just that successful people feel fear and do the big thing anyway. They get that there’s a better-feeling high that comes after facing down their fear.
At the end of 2010 I was deep in fear (and wading in the river of denial) about impending circumstances which seemed to be conspiring against dreamer Heather and I working together. With each new setback, I’d brush my feelings aside, ignore the obvious ending and replace it with wine, chocolate, or melted cheese.
Then I’d whine about my big butt.
It was a lot of cheese.
I stopped meditating, because my experience was that every time I mediated regularly on something I wanted to “make better”, a virtual moving van would race screeching into my life, and move me somewhere completely different.
I SAID MAKE BETTER – NOT DIFFERENT. HELLLLLLLOOOOO.
Who is this friggin fairy-change-godmother of mine and why does she keep doing this?
A week before I filled out my unemployment form online in front of Heather, I had come to the decision to run toward what I was fearing. I returned to meditating and told the universe just to place me where it thought I belonged. I equate it to running at the Grand Canyon and jumping – having faith that somewhere between the edge and the Colorado river below, a net, bridge or parachute would appear.
Something will catch me, right?
It was one month before Christmas and everything seemed to be falling part, but instead of resisting, I decided to run for the canyon edge. I remember staring at the unemployment web page thinking, (sigh) “Well this sure sucks.” It was not what I call fun. But it was empowering. And while I was in the arms flailing, legs kicking, screaming my guts out free-fall into the land of the single-parent unemployed place, I made a firm decision that going forward I would only do work that aligns with my dreams . . . and I would only do work that I love.
I began looking for jobs that involved writing and ignored everything else. I told myself that the right situation, people and circumstances would appear. I wanted fun, happy, light-hearted people – and connection.
I was pretty insistent in my mediations.
There was a time I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but my fairy-friggin-change-godmother was with me, showing me the way, by either preventing me from getting to an interview by taking a normal 30-minute drive and turning it into three hours, because suddenly, in the middle of the day, the highway needed to be shut down — or by making it so connections only occurred via voice mail and email — never quite bringing us together.
She was whispering, “This is not the right place for you . . .”
At one interview the job description turned into a diatribe on just how stressful the work environment was. Did they not read that I once worked in mortgage banking and real estate? If you look up stressed in the dictionary you will see a loan officer’s face as his loan is closing for a first-time home buyer. But about the fourth time this interviewer went on and on about the stress, I began to wonder what he was really trying to say.
I wanted to say, “Stress? You aren’t the parent of a teenage boy about to learn to drive are you?”
I let go of controlling the outcomes and a funny thing happened on the way — I have met the most amazing people. I want to work with everyone. Hey, maybe my fairy-godmother knows more than I’ve given her credit for, or is it that she is trying to say that sometimes with dreaming you’ve just got to run towards what it is you fear?
1. Mediate, workout, walk, pray or keep a journal every day.
You must do something to calm your nerves and give you focus. Any thing but a diet of melted cheese and chocolate. It must be a positive habit that clears your mind and allows you to get ready to make your leap of faith.
2. Ignore negative people.
Don’t talk to family or friends who will freak you about about what you are about to do. Only engage with those who encourage your change and offer proactive solutions.
3. Expect a death and a walk through the 7 stages of grief.
In order to face a fear you must be willing to embrace whatever change may come. If you were leaving to go live in Paris for a year, we might look at the wonderful adventure laid out before you, but at the same time there would be things you’d be giving up to do this. There would be a death of the old. Expect to experience shock, pain, bargaining, reflection, adjustment – before hope and contentment.
4. Just do it.
Sometimes you have to just suck it up and leap. Do it. Quit worrying if all the pieces and parts are in place. Make your move. Trust the universe. Trust your gut instincts.
5. Practice nonresistance towards fear.
Feel your fear, but don’t do anything with your feelings. Don’t drink, eat pasta, or bake a cake to try and feel better. Just allow the fear. Focus on breathing and pay attention to where your body stores your fear feelings. Ask yourself over and over if what you are afraid of is really true. Treat your fear like you would treat a 4-year old child who is afraid of the dark. If you stay with it, you will find the feelings dissipate. It’s when we resist feeling the fear that we make it grow stronger.
6. Trust that it’s a process you can’t control.
Trust that facing your fears and taking a leap of faith is a process you can’t control. Be open to whatever happens. Enjoy the ride. Try to see the humor and understand that no one is perfect.
7. Have a back-up plan.
Have a contingency plan so that you feel some protection from sudden blizzards that appear out of nowhere (you can call them obstacles – and they do happen). You don’t want to be Don Quixote tilting at windmills. Part of that safety net is knowing that you will give something a certain amount of time to happen before trying something else. Don’t be afraid to switch gears and move in another direction.
8. Don’t strive for perfection.
If we wait until the timing is perfect and we don’t feel scared, our dreams will never come true. Fear is the test you must pass, the door you must walk through, and the deep breath you must take, so inhale!
Make fear your friend. Smile when you see it and understand that it’s the universe’s way of telling you that it’s time to take your next step as a grown-up. It’s your fairy godmother putting her foot on your butt and giving you a good shove down your life’s path. Don’t screw it up by resisting.
Be the fearless dreamer: leap and have some faith.
Catherine’s dream is to be a motivator and published writer. She is testing her theories on motivation with this blog and the seven other women who have volunteered to be a part of her dream project. Catherine also writes about her life as a mom at the blog A Week In The Life Of A Redhead. She would also like to be invited to speak at TED as the next Erma Bombeck. Catherine posts on Monday mornings and fills in when needed.
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