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You’ve Just Lost A Job, Not Everything

You’ve Just Lost A Job, Not Everything

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you don’t know exactly how to answer the question, “What do you do?”

The most common answer I hear at meetups and networking events is reciting a job title and job description.

“I’m a business analyst.”

“I’m a marketing assistant.”

“I’m a financial analyst.”

“I’m a coach.”

I’ve given this type of answer before where my whole identity is attached to a job title, yet over the years I’ve realized that a job title is a label you put on yourself that does not define who you are. The problem with having your identity tied to a specific job is that if something happens like getting laid off or fired, your sense of self-worth suffers, making you think that the world is over and your life has no purpose.

Losing a job doesn’t mean the end of the world. What looks like a setback could very well be the opportunity you’ve been looking for to make a meaningful change.

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The key is diversifying your skills and remaining grateful.

Back in August, I received a notice that would change my perspective on life and work forever: I was laid off. I remember standing in the back of the room looking around and seeing mixed emotions as we continued listening to the “we are restructuring operations” speech. I left the room right after finding out we were going to get an extra month of salary to help us out in this transition.

A transition in life is a very fragile stage in our lives that put us in a gray area, and it can become our greatest setback or our most powerful opportunity. A transition always leads to uncertainty because we are not familiar with what’s ahead and emotions often go crazy. Our brain automatically starts looking for solutions to this seemingly terrible transition and we make decisions based out of fear rather than from a place of love.

I remember as I was walking through the hallway back to my cubicle, I couldn’t help thinking about what was coming next.

How am I going to pay rent?

My car?

Credit card bills?

Student loans?

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Groceries?

Chipotle with extra guacamole?

I need to apply for new jobs, interview like crazy, and take the first job offer that comes to me.

These and many other thoughts were running through my head all at the same time. I acknowledged them and let them flow without presenting any resistance. I realized all my thoughts were coming from a place of fear, leading me toward finding the most comfortable solutions.

Instead, I remained calm and did NOTHING!

I avoided the temptation of trying to find a quick fix and took it as an opportunity to really choose myself for once in my life. For years I held corporate positions in the mortgage and finance industry, making good money but not feeling fulfilled — and a part of me knew it was time for a change. I saw this as an opportunity to be intentional about my next step and find what makes me come alive.

I asked myself: What is the worst that can happen if for once in my life I decide to do something that I’m passionate about and try it out for one month?

I decided to give intentional experimentation a try, know more about myself, and figure out the kind of person I want to become. Adam Poswolsky, author of “The Quarter-Life Breakthrough”, mentions how it’s important to develop a breakthrough career mindset, becoming intentional about the kind of job opportunities young adults want to take on where every opportunity takes you closer to your true purpose and interests. The reward of intentional experimentation is to find meaningful work while experimenting with a variety of opportunities until you find that one thing that makes you fulfilled.

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Here’s what happened once I decided to experiment with different opportunities after losing my job:

Traveling

Traveling has given me a new perspective on the world. It has also given me the opportunity to sit back, meditate, and embrace life for what it is and not for what I want it to be. Too many times, we get caught up in the everyday hustle and sometimes we forget what’s really important.  I first learned about meditation during our Costa Rica retreat back in October when I took my first-ever yoga class surrounded by fresh rainforest air, an abundance of local flora and fauna, tropical birds singing, gentle breezes, and the sound of the rushing river. One of the most important benefits I get from meditating is learnign how to organize my thoughts and emotions, helping me decide what really matters.

The people I’ve met throughout my travels have made all the difference. Being surrounded by people passionate about life, traveling, and refusing to settle inspires me keep pushing forward towards what I want out of life.

Writing

I fell in love with the power of the written word a long time ago, but I never really developed a writing habit. Ever since being laid off, I’ve been writing more often and getting my ideas out of my head, reflecting on things that matter to me, and sharing them with the world. I even started my own blog where I write about personal development, crafting stories from my own personal experiences and interviewing other people going through their own transitions. While developing a daily writing habit, I have learned how to be vulnerable, honest, and transparent.  Lately, I’ve been developing a habit of meditating through writing where I get to write about the highlights of each day and things I can do to improve for the next day. It’s so rewarding, and I’d encourage anyone to write a little bit each day.

Learning about myself

This is perhaps the most valuable outcome I’ve received from getting laid off: the opportunity to better understand who I am and what I want out of life. Most people rarely take the time to truly learn about themselves, instead following predetermined scripts that society puts upon us. Go to college, get a degree, get a high-paying job, big screen TV, white-picket fence house, work for 40-50 years, climb the corporate ladder, and then retire. Even if you want to climb the corporate ladder, how do you even know that you have it leaned against the right wall? I have realized that learning about yourself is a natural process that is ongoing, and there are no hacks or fast tracks.

A few days ago, I shared my big intention for life, business, and career with the universe in a single tweet. Here it is:

My big intention is to truly serve others in their journey within by writing, dancing, spreading smiles for miles and positive energy, creating and participating in transformative experiences that serve as a launching pad to help young adults figure out their next step.

The word is out!

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There are moments when I feel fearful and doubtful, and start to question myself about my decision to follow my own path, but I recognize it and don’t give control to doubts and fears. Instead, I remember that I’m being intentional about what I want by doing things that allow me to fully express myself.

I thought that losing my job was going to be a disaster, but it became the biggest opportunity I’ve ever had to change my life.

I accepted my situation. I embraced it. I got in touch with my inner self.

What resulted was definitely not on the script I had been given for years.

I don’t know where this path may lead, but what matters is that I’ve made a conscious decision to live a life aligned with my true gifts and talents to make a meaningful impact in the world. If I hadn’t been laid off, I probably would have stayed at the same old job, living a life of average and conformity. Sometimes what looks like a hardship is quite often a blessing in disguise.

What transition are you going through in your life right now and what are you learning from it?

Featured photo credit: h.koppdelaney via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 5, 2020

Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

Nobody enjoys failing. Fear of failure can be so strong that avoiding failure eclipses the motivation to succeed. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly causes many people to unconsciously sabotage their chances for success.

Fear is part of human nature. As an entrepreneur, I faced this same fear. My ego and identity became intertwined with my work, and when things didn’t go as planned, I completely shut down. I overcame this unhealthy relationship with fear, and I believe that you can, too.

Together we’ll examine how you can use failure to your advantage instead of letting it run your life. We’ll also look at how to overcome fear of failure so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.

What Is Fear of Failure?

If you are afraid of failure, it will cause you to avoid potentially harmful situations.

Fear of failure keeps you from trying, creates self-doubt, stalls progress, and may lead you to go against your morals.

What causes a fear of failure? Here are the main reasons why fear of failing exists:

Patterns From Childhood

Hyper-critical adults cause children to internalize damaging mindsets.[1] They establish ultimatums and fear-based rules. This causes children to feel the constant need to ask for permission and reassurance. They carry this need for validation into adulthood.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often at the root of a fear of failure.[2] For perfectionists, failure is so terrible and humiliating that they don’t try. Stepping outside your comfort zone becomes terrifying.

Over-Personalization

The ego may lead us to over-identify with failures. It’s hard to look beyond failure at things like the quality of the effort, extenuating circumstances, or growth opportunities.[3]

False Self-Confidence

People with true confidence know they won’t always succeed. A person with fragile self-confidence avoids risks. They’d rather play it safe than try something new.[4]

How the Fear of Failure Holds You Back

Unhealthy Organization Culture

Too many organizations today have cultures of perfection: a set of organizational beliefs that any failure is unacceptable. Only pure, untainted success will do.

Imagine the stress and terror in an organization like that. The constant covering up of the smallest blemishes. The wild finger-pointing as everyone tries to shift the blame for the inevitable messes onto someone else. The lying, cheating, falsification of data, and hiding of problems—until they become crises that defy being hidden any longer.

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Miss out on Valuable Opportunities

If some people fail to reach a complete answer because of the lure of some early success, many more fail because of their ego-driven commitment to what worked in the past. You often see this with senior people, especially those who made their names by introducing some critical change years ago.

They shy away from further innovation, afraid that this time they might fail, diminishing the luster they try to keep around their names from past triumph.

Besides, they reason, the success of something new might even prove that those achievements they made in the past weren’t so great after all. Why take the risk when you can hang on to your reputation by doing nothing?

Such people are so deeply invested in their egos and the glories of their past that they prefer to set aside opportunities for future glory rather than risk even the possibility of failure.

High Achievers Become Losers

Every talent contains an opposite that sometimes turns it into a problem. Successful people like to win and achieve high standards. This can make them so terrified of failure that it ruins their lives. When a positive trait, like achievement, becomes too strong in someone’s life, it’s on the way to becoming a major obstacle.

Achievement is a powerful value for many successful people. They’ve built their lives on it. They achieve at everything they do: school, college, sports, the arts, hobbies, work. Each fresh achievement adds to the power of the value in their lives.

Gradually, failure becomes unthinkable. Maybe they’ve never failed yet in anything that they’ve done, so they have no experience of rising above it. Failure becomes the supreme nightmare: a frightful horror they must avoid at any cost.

The simplest way to do this is never to take a risk, stick rigidly to what you know you can do, protect yourself, work the longest hours, double and triple check everything, and be the most conscientious and conservative person in the universe.

If constant hard work, diligence, brutal working schedules and harrying subordinates won’t ward off the possibility of failing, use every other possible means to to keep it away. Falsify numbers, hide anything negative, conceal errors, avoid customer feedback, constantly shift the blame for errors onto anyone too weak to fight back.

Loss of Creativity

Over-achievers destroy their own peace of mind and the lives of those who work for them. People too attached to “goodness” and morality become self-righteous bigots. Those whose values for building close relationships become unbalanced slide into smothering their friends and family with constant expressions of affection and demands for love in return.

Everyone likes to succeed. The problem comes when fear of failure is dominant, when you can no longer accept the inevitability of making mistakes, nor recognize the importance of trial and error in finding the most creative solution.

The more creative you are, the more errors you are going to make. Deciding to avoid the errors will destroy your creativity, too.

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Balance counts more than you think. Some tartness must season the sweetest dish. A little selfishness is valuable even in the most caring person. And a little failure is essential to preserve everyone’s perspective on success.

We hear a lot about being positive. Maybe we also need to recognize that the negative parts of our lives and experience have just as important a role to play in finding success, in work, and in life.

How to Overcome Fear of Failure (Step-by-Step)

1. Figure out Where the Fear Comes From

Ask yourself what the root cause of your negative belief could be.[5] When you look at the four main causes for a fear of failure, which ones resonate with you?

Write down where you think the fear comes from, and try to understand it as an outsider.

If it helps, imagine you’re trying to help one of your best friends. Perhaps your fear stems from something that happened in your childhood, or a deep-seated insecurity.

Naming the source of the fear takes away some of its power.

2. Reframe Beliefs About Your Goal

Having an all or nothing mentality leaves you with nothing sometimes. Have a clear vision for what you’d like to accomplish but include learning something new in your goal.

If you always aim for improvement and learning, you are much less likely to fail.[6]

At Pixar, people are actually encouraged to “fail early and fail fast.”[7] They encourage experimentation and innovation so that they can stay on the cutting edge. That mindset involves failure, but as long as they achieve their vision of telling great stories, all the stumbling blocks are just opportunities to grow.

3. Learn to Think Positive

In many cases, you believe what you tell yourself. Your internal dialogue affects how you react and behave.

Our society is obsessed with success, but it’s important to recognize that even the most successful people encounter failure.

Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper because they thought he lacked creativity. He went on to found an animation studio that failed. He never gave up, and now Disney is a household name.

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Steve Jobs was also once fired from Apple before returning as the face of the company for many years. [8]

If Disney and Jobs had believed the negative feedback, they wouldn’t have made it.

It’s up to you to notice your negative self talk and identify triggers[9]. Replace negative thoughts with positive facts about yourself and the situation. You’ll be able to create a new mental scripts that you can reach for when you feel negativity creeping in. The voice inside your head has a great effect on what you do.

How To Be A Positive Thinker: Positivity Exercises, Affirmations, & Quotes

    4. Visualize all Potential Outcomes

    Uncertainty about what will happen next is terrifying. Take time to visualize the possible outcomes of your decision. Think about the best and worst-case scenarios. You’ll feel better if you’ve already had a chance to mentally prepare for what could happen.

    Fear of the unknown might keep you from taking a new job. Weigh the pros and cons, and imagine potential successes and failures in making such a life-altering decision. Knowing how things could turn out might help you get unstuck.

    5. Look at the Worst-Case Scenario

    There are times when the worst case could be absolutely devastating. In many cases, if something bad happens, it won’t be the end of the world.

    It’s important to define how bad the worst case scenario is in the grand scheme of your life. Sometimes, we give situations more power than they deserve. In most cases, a failure is not permanent.

    For example, when you start a new business, it’s bound to be a learning experience. You’ll make decisions that don’t pan out, but often that discomfort is temporary. You can change your strategy and rebound. Even in the worst case scenario, if the perceived failure led to the end of that business, it might be the launching point for something new.

    6. Have a Backup Plan

    It never hurts to have a backup plan. The last thing you want to do is scramble for a solution when the worst has happened. The old adage is solid wisdom:

    “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

    Having a backup plan gives you more confidence to move forward and take calculated risks.

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    Perhaps you’ve applied for a grant to fund an initiative at work. In the worst-case scenario, if you don’t get the grant, are there other ways you could get the funds?

    There are usually multiple ways to tackle a problem, so having a backup is a great way to reduce anxiety about possible failure.

    7. Learn From Whatever Happens

    Things may not go the way you planned, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed. Learn from whatever arises.[10] Even a less than ideal situation can be a great opportunity to make changes and grow.

    “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

    Dig deep enough, and you’re bound to find the silver lining. When you’ve learned that “failure” is an opportunity for growth instead of a death sentence, you conquer the fear of failure.

    For more tips on how to overcome fear of failure, check out the video below:

    Final Thoughts

    To overcome fear of failure, we can start by figuring out where it comes from and reframing the way we feel about failure. When failure is a chance for growth, and you’ve looked at all possible outcomes, it’s easier to overcome fear.

    Stay positive, have a backup plan, and learn from whatever happens. Your failures will be sources of education and inspiration rather than humiliation.

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas A. Edison

    Failures can be blessings in disguise. Go boldly in the direction of your dreams and long-term goals.

    More Tips for Conquering Fear

    Featured photo credit: Patrick Hendry via unsplash.com

    Reference

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