• Proactive Happiness

Don't Let Fear be the HBIC

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

One of the most common themes I hear during coaching conversations with people is around fear and its impact on next steps. Fear is a naturally occurring phenomenon for all of us. Self-preservation, our body’s natural desire to protect us and those we care about, is something we all encounter in different ways each and every day – some more subtle than others.



Stop for a minute and think back over the past few days of your life. How many times have you stopped yourself from doing something because you just felt like you shouldn’t do it? Your internal warning system raising its hand to tell you this could end badly. Lighting your BBQ grill with a can of gasoline in the other hand? Crossing the road with a blindfold on? Quitting your job to pursue your dream of happiness and fulfillment? Hello, Fear! Fear manifests in many different ways – some small and subtle, and others huge and overt.

When we look at our current “happiness state”, and contemplate the idea of changing to improve that state, it is typically extremely fear provoking. The body’s natural response kicking in, once again. Kicking in to respond to change, kicking in to respond to uncertainty, kicking in to tell us that it is so much better to just stay where we are than to move ourselves towards something different.


To be very clear, I realize that fear is a GOOD thing. Fear keeps us coming home to our loved ones each night. Fear keeps us from pushing the envelope too far and taking risks we aren’t prepared to handle. But when does fear start to take over? Fear becomes a problem when we let it take an overly conservative approach that is limiting all of our actions. If fear had its way, we would all be paralyzed from taking action of any sort every single day of our lives. We would stay in a miserable job way past the point of unhappiness and watch the days of our lives tick by, hoping for the Happiness Fairy to drop in for a visit.


The key to all of this is learning how to manage your fears and keep them from limiting your future. It is all about finding a balance that you can live with – how much risk can I take and still be able to sleep at night? One of the first steps to finding this balance is to learn to identify your fear response. Slow things down for a minute, and ask yourself why you are responding the way you are. Did you make that decision based on fear, and if so, is that justified?


Fear will never disappear completely, and that is just fine. Learning how to recognize your fear and make more of a conscious decision (that you’re comfortable with) is the way to start opening your mind to the possibilities, and to finding out what you can truly do. Start by taking small risks – order a different drink at your local coffee shop, try a new restaurant, ask someone out on a date….say yes to someone asking you on a date, join a new cycling club, apply for that promotion – the possibilities are endless! The more comfortable you get with these little steps, the more it will prepare you to start taking bigger risks and challenging yourself more. Will everything go well as you head down this path? Of course not – you may end up deciding you REALLY don’t like soy milk in your latte or you may not get that promotion – but you will also start to see that failure is not the end of the world, and that you can move past it to bigger and better things.



Looking for an easy first step in moving past your fears, and refusing to let fear be the HBIC? Hire a career coach to help you think about where you are and where you want to go in your career. In the meantime, if I run into the Happiness Fairy, I will give her your number.


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