There are two reasons that most people get confused about what to do next in their careers. The first is lack of information. This usually comes from not having investigated either your own internal desires or some external possibility, such as a new employer, industry, or field that you’d like to consider. When I coach clients who are stuck in confusion and unable to move forward with creating change in their lives, they often believe that the lack of information is the cause of their confusion.
It may very well be that the client needs to take some time to gather information. Yet there is an abundance of information out there on how to investigate both your internal desires and new career paths. It is the substance of most career books, which are readily available. I have found that if a client is not already looking for information, something else is usually going on. Otherwise, they would have already started investigating on their own. In most cases, the lack of information is not the real reason for the confusion.
The Real Source of Confusion
The real reason for confusion is fear. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of what people will think of you, fear of applying for a new job and being rejected, fear of trying something, possibly failing, and feeling humiliated. It all boils down to fear. And it takes a powerful hold on us. I’ve mentioned before that our emotions are what drive our actions or inaction. Fear is a powerful emotion that drives inaction. We feel fear and we think it means that we shouldn’t go forward.
You’re Supposed to Feel Fear
What we don’t realize is that fear is a natural human response that happens whenever we consider doing something new. Whether you want to call it your primitive brain or your inner critic, every person on the planet has a voice inside that comes up with reasons why we shouldn’t try new things. It’s part of the human experience. The difference is that some people—the people who are doing big things in the world—choose to act in spite of the fear, while others choose to listen to the fear and not take action. People don’t often talk about how afraid they feel, so we think that we’re the only one who feels this way. Yet this is universal. I see it in every single client that I coach. Fear just means that you’re human with a normal human brain.
Steps for Overcoming Confusion and Fear
When you’re trying to decide what to do next, ask yourself: what would I do if I knew that I would succeed at all of the options that I’m considering? This question allows you to push your fears aside and let your higher-self identify what you would really love to do.
Then ask yourself what fears you have around doing that thing. What do you fear could happen? It’s usually that you’ll either fail or be rejected in some way. Realize that this is your primitive brain coming up with reasons to try to keep you safe in your comfort zone. Write down the reasons and then ask yourself “why that is a problem?” to get to the root cause.
“If I apply for a new job, I might get rejected.” Why is that a problem?
“It would mean that I failed.” Why is that a problem?
“It would mean that I’m a failure.” Why is that a problem?
“It would mean that I’d be a worthless human being.” Now we’ve identified the root cause of the problem.
If you’re making risking failure or rejection mean something terrible, such as that you would be a worthless human being, then of course you’re not going to want to risk failure or rejection. It would, according to your brain, put your very worth on the line. But that thought—if I fail it will mean that I’m a worthless human being—is completely optional and it’s definitely not serving you. You could choose a completely different thought, which would create a different emotion other than fear.
Because fear is a normal human emotion, we can’t always banish it from our lives completely. And pushing fear away tends to make it stronger and make us feel ashamed of having fear in the first place.
The best thing to do instead is to find ways to take action in spite of the fear and the best emotion to help you do that is courage.
Here are some thoughts that you could choose to think to generate the emotion of courage:
- I’m learning something new and that’s okay.
- I am willing to feel fear and still take action toward my goal.
- I have so much to offer the world and I am committed to doing the work that is important to me.
- Making mistakes and failing means that I’m learning.
What other thoughts can you come up with to generate the feeling of courage? If you need help moving from confusion to clarity, contact me to schedule a free mini session.
Go forth and bloom.