Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Scary Things for the Sake of Progress

I remember when I was a little girl, my mother enrolled me in swimming lessons at the local pool.  Within approximately the first 2-3 minutes, I got splashed in the face and had water up to my nose.  Immediately, I started screaming; got out of the pool, and refused to go back in.  Well, so much for that!  I hope they gave my mom a refund! I continued to be absolutely terrified of the swimming pool for a number of years after that.  The funny thing is that it just kept coming up.  Somehow, the situation was destined to repeat itself until I was forced to deal with it.  You see, the mind was doing everything in its power to protect me.  It was certain that putting my head underwater meant drowning and drowning meant dying.  The mind was sure it was protecting me from dying.  It was also preventing me from making progress so long as I avoided everything that involved the swimming pool.  The funny thing is that when I was just a few years older, I really wanted to jump off the diving board.  I was so excited by the idea of it.  By then I could at least tread water and swim a little, so I knew that I wouldn't drown.  So, I climbed up the ladder.  I slowly made my way down to the end and peered down at the water below. I want to tell you that I was super brave and jumped, but the truth is that crippling fear took over me.  I turned right back around and went down that ladder at double speed.  I swear I played this out a hundred times.  Finally one day, I was standing at the end of that diving board, looking down... again, I want to tell you how brave I was, but I wasn't.  I was just tired of allowing the fear to win.  So, I jumped.

We often want things in life that we're truly excited about; things that will take our lives in a new direction or somehow enhance our life experience.  We spend a lot of our emotional and mental energy thinking about it, but when we find ourselves at the end of the diving board, we suddenly freeze up.  Why do we do that? Are our limiting beliefs rearing their ugly little heads?  Are our minds more concerned about a future moment that hasn't even occurred rather than a present moment in which we are perfectly fine?  All of the above?

This topic has been on my mind for several reasons; one being that I noticed it happening to me.  I am going into business for myself doing a couple of different things.  One of which is tax preparation, as I have training in that area.  This is something I've thought about for almost a decade, but life circumstances made it feel like it was never quite the right time.  Over the course of the past year, that started to change.  I had taken a part-time job preparing taxes for a corporation, which lead me to feel as though I would really prefer to do this on my own where I could be in control of my own hours, environment, etc.  Everything was just flowing for me to do this on my own.  There was a certain ease about it.  Looking for ease is the key to knowing you are flowing and on track with something you are trying to bring into your experience.  

I really hadn't told many people about this because we weren't really at tax season yet.  Suddenly it was January and it hit me "I have to tell people that I'm actually in business!" That's a funny thing about starting a business: You have to tell people you're starting it.  Funny, right?  That's where I suddenly clammed up!  I was scared to actually tell people! There was that fear thing again...

Now, I had two options: abort the mission or work through the fear.  If I want to venture into the realm of the self-employed, I'll have to work through the fear.  Otherwise, it's destined to come back up again.  If I were to abort the mission, my tax business wouldn't really open.  In theory that would be fine, but I really am an entrepreneurial type.  I'm going to want to start something of my own, and that'll still include telling people about it.  So, that fear would come up again.  This is one of the primary lessons in the Law of Resistance, as resistance, in essence, is fear.  If you ignore a fear that arises, you will encounter one of a similar nature over and over until you are forced to deal with it.  So, when these moments arise, how can we best deal with the fear that presents itself?


The first step involves courage and honesty.  We must ask ourselves "Why am I afraid?"  Then comes the difficult part.  We must sit in stillness and wait for the response.  When I did this, I was flooded with responses.  "What if I'm not received well?  What if no one wants what I have to offer?  What if I don't know an answer to something?" What commonalities are there among the responses?  I noticed that these things all boiled down to insecurity in two arenas: acceptance and perfectionism.  

It seems reasonable to question myself further in both areas.  Are these things really likely to happen?  In the area of acceptance, what are the odds that I announce this business and people treat me poorly or tell me that it's a terrible thing to do?  How likely is it that literally no one wants or needs what I have to offer?  Honestly, they're both extremely unlikely.  As far as my perfectionism goes, is it possible for me to not know the answer to something?  Sure.  Do I have to literally know the answer to everything off the top of my head?  Absolutely not!  I don't know anyone in my industry that literally has every answer memorized.  It just doesn't happen.  There are too many things to know, and constant changes.  What they are all good at is being able to find the answers to things, and you know what?  I'm really good at that too!  I am great at researching things that pop up.  In questioning myself, it seems that I've debunked my own insecurities.  What could use further investigation is whether or not these insecurities are based on limiting beliefs?

Evaluating Limiting Beliefs:

Sometimes evaluating liming beliefs involves a little time and thoughtful meditation for me.  When I consider the areas of acceptance and perfectionism, I've noticed some things come up. First, I have an awareness that many parts of my life aren't exactly mainstream.  I am often either doing something a little different from the norm or doing something normal in a way that's a little different.  This often leads me to think that "I'm a bit too alternative."  I think this relates to acceptance quite a bit, as people sometimes shy away from things that are different.   Is being different a problem?  Some of the most brilliant people in the history of the world were certainly a little different, and because of many of them, we enjoy the most mesmerizing art and innovative technologies that wouldn't exist if people were too afraid to do their own thing.  The truth is that I like the fact that I am a little different and that  I sometimes go about things a little differently.  

Do I have beliefs surrounding perfectionism?  I have a real tendency to want to know everything or feel perfectly prepared before I embark on something new.  I'm sure this is why I like to study so much.  I want to know all there is to know about something.  Now, the funny thing about this is that I'm also a teacher.  As a teacher, I'm firmly aware that sometimes you just have to try something and let experience teach you that you still need to learn.  We'll never have all the answers, and occasionally we might not know what to do about something.  That's when we're honest and do further research or seek help.  This is also where my perfectionism is a huge asset in my life; I am a really accurate person, and that shows in my work.  So, while it seems that I have a limiting belief that suggests that I have to know everything or be prepared for everything before I can take action, I understand that this simply isn't true.  Sometimes, you just have to start and trust yourself. 

Knowing Your Why: 

Sometimes we all have to do scary things for the sake of progress, and it's also important that we evaluate our why.  Why do we want to make progress?  What is the goal?  Is it important enough to see through?  Sometimes, the answer might actually be "No" and that's okay.  That only indicates that there isn't much of a why behind the action.

When I evaluate my why, I ask myself why I want to work for myself.  I value being able to control my schedule, location, growth, income all to a certain degree.  Why in this particular area?  I have a knack for understanding how things in this area work. I like helping people.  The work feels a little like solving a puzzle or riddle, which I enjoy.  What's the bigger why?  I want to control my destiny where it involves my time, location, and compensation. I want to achieve greater balance in my life where the various areas of work, play, relationships, growth, and health are concerned and know that working for myself will allow me to do so.  I want to work in a manner that allows me to grow relationships with people over time, and that I can help them to achieve their best lives.  These reasons why are so much greater than the fear that presented itself.  

The second reason this topic has been on my mind involves several different people in my life.  Oddly enough there are a number of people that I've spoken to recently that are working through some very difficult things under a variety of financial topics: property sales, retirement planning needs, tax issues.  It would be so easy for each of these individuals to bury their heads in the sand, claim "it's too hard," and continue on as before.  But literally, none of them are making that choice.  They are all courageously forging forward, machete in hand, and hacking their way through scary things.  And you know what?  They're all going to come out on the other side of this in much better situations than they were before.  I'm so proud of them.

So, what is the scary thing you're currently facing?  Are you afraid to open the bills that seem to endlessly keep coming in the mail?  Are you afraid to open the online banking app to find out how much is really in your checking account?  Are you afraid to deal with retirement accounts or investing in general?  Have you always wanted to start your own business, but fear is holding you back?  Fear is one of the primary things that hold us back in the realm of personal finance.  We're terrified of making a wrong move or sounding unintelligent.  We're afraid of being judged or even facing our own self-judgment as we face a mountain of uncertainty.  Things are destined to change in our lives whether we take action or not.  I personally would prefer to face the scary things for the sake of progress rather than allow indecision to drive my destiny.  

What did I do?  I decided it was time to make my plans to start my own business known.  I kept it simple.  Rome wasn't built in a day.  I opened up one of my social media platforms and wrote a post telling the world that I was in business. The nerves were still there as I pressed the button to make the posts go live.  Know what happened?  About forty people congratulated me and half a dozen reached out because they might need my services.  None of the things my mind was yelling at me about even came remotely close to happening, just like I didn't actually drown when I jumped off the diving board.  Now that's what I call progress.


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