young woman in yellow coat waiting at train station

Let's talk about fear for a sec.

We all know fear.

Fear is the snarky bully who introduces itself somewhere around puberty and attends the School of Life with us from that moment on. The details of fear vary by person and by circumstance, of course, but generally, we adorable, self-interested little humans all tend to be scared of two things, regardless of any other factors at play.

We fear complacency and we fear the unknown.

We want to accomplish all of those lofty goals that keep us up at night, but the idea of taking the risk and possibly failing, well, that scares us away from taking action. On the other hand, the idea of settling for a life of mediocrity, when we believe at our core that we are capable of and destined for so much more, often leads to deep-rooted, chronic restlessness, a dissatisfaction that ends up affecting every aspect of our lives.

Even for those of us who are aware of these universal fears and determined to outsmart them, it can be all-too easy to spend entire decades nervously straddling the line between a life of challenge and a life of comfort. Comfort is very appealing; it's often the cumulation of a lot of structured, safe work, after all; a lot of good intentions; a lot of planning and strategic living. There is a lot of good to be said for a life of comfort, but not much to be produced from it.

Deciding that your desire to live up to your potential outweighs your fear of failure is one of the most important, though often most overlooked, tasks of adult life. Some of us will decide that the risk is simply too high, either consciously or subconsciously retreating back to what feels safe; some of us will default to indecision, avoiding the choice altogether.

But, for the sake of this existential ramble, let's say you've gone ahead and bravely made that choice.

You've chosen a life of challenge over a life of comfort; you've decided to dive into the Deep Unknown. Congratulations! Welcome to the wild world of authentic living. Now, we wish we could say we come bearing instructions, but that would imply we'd figured out exactly what it is we're doing, and unfortunately none of us on this side of Certainty really have any answers; we sacrificed those as soon as we parted ways with our old friend Comfort.

What we do have, though, is a pretty good handle on how to embrace the questions, how to welcome the process of unpredictability in a way that still fosters meaningful, productive work.

But your comfort zone is cozy...we get it. Trust us. Resisting the urge to crawl back into it can be really tough, but when you're feeling overwhelmed, try to remember just these two things. Two - that's it! Reset and remember why you broke up with CZ in the first place...

Walk the Walk

No matter how enthusiastically you articulate your ideas and your objectives and your plan, unless you add some action to those pretty words, no one will really care, and, more significantly, nothing real will ever come of it. Don't waste your time seeming to be busy or seeming to be focused on your passions. Be the way you want to seem. And if find yourself overwhelmed with to-do's...just remember, action is worry's worst enemy.

Reframe Your Perception Of Failure

You can live with a lot of intention and work really bravely toward the things you love, and one of two things will still happen: You will either succeed, or you will stumble. One important thing to remember, though, is that failure is only as scary as you allow it to be. Change what it means to you; decide that 'failure' is really just a rerouting of sorts while you navigate toward your authentic life. Don't wallow; don't throw a tantrum; don't end your efforts. Decide that one mistake, one set-back, one seemingly world-ending misstep, is not going to get the best of you. Expect those hurdles, greet them confidently and adjust to overcome them. Look failure in the face and kindly tell it that you're done taking its shit.

The human experience will never exist without fear; that's something we need to accept. But how we coexist with that fear, how we allow it to impact our accomplishments and our personal development, that is ours to decide, and it's a decision we have to make often, as comfort creeps in.


We can't get enough of fearless stories from our readers - did you ever take a huge professional or personal leap of faith? How did you power through the urge to retreat to your comfort zone?