Fear-based Decision Making

Posted by on Apr 19, 2013 in Change Management | 17 comments

For years most of my big decisions were based in fear. I worried about what might happen and more often than not choose the “safer” choice- but not the choice that would make me happy, not the choice that was really right for me.

Fear-based decision making isn’t even really about achieving a desirable outcome- it’s usually an attempt to calm the fear I’m feeling in the moment.

Fear-based decision making is also strongly influenced by assumptions, expectations, and judgments. I fear what others might think of my choices so the safe choice is to do what everyone else did, or what someone else thought was right for me.

“Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop.” ~Usman B. Asif

When I look back at my life every single time I made a fearful choice, the outcome of that choice was undesirable. Even knowing this, fear’s influence remains strong when I’m faced with a major decision.

Recently I was faced with a big decision- what to do about the burnout I was experiencing on the job. I was looking for another job but in the meantime I stayed at that job, continuing to overwork myself and expose myself to bullying from a particular manager.

What could I do? I need a paycheck to pay the bills. Some of my friends and family advised me to “play it safe” and keep my job until I found another one. Even though the job was literally making me ill, I had no choice, right?

Then I realized that was the fear talking. I had no reason to believe I wouldn’t be able to find another job right away. I was making myself sick over a worst-case-scenario that may or may not happen. I was willing to continue to live in an unmanageable situation to avoid the possibility of a different unmanageable situation in the future.

I thought back to my one word goal for 2013- fearless. Right, this year I’m making a conscious choice to fear less. I kicked fear to the curb and took a leap of faith. Instead of giving in to fear, I chose to believe in myself! I chose to believe that a positive outcome is just as likely as a negative one- and it was! I gave notice of my resignation without another job lined up and found another job almost right away.

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” ~Helen Keller

Sure, my situation could have worked out differently but I didn’t make a rash decision, I made the best possible choice I could in that situation.

I analyzed our finances and came up with a plan to get by if I didn’t find another job right away. I started cutting unneeded items from our budget. I was prepared to take a temporary position with a tax preparation service. If I couldn’t find a job, I could dip into our savings. My backup options were not ideal but neither was working myself sick and getting bullied at my job!

In the end I didn’t have to resort to my worst-case-scenario options. My worst fears didn’t come true, and I was able to remove myself from an unhealthy work situation. Fear – 0, Faith – 1!

I don’t know what will happen in the future. Situations may work out the way I hope they will, or they may not. I can’t know how it will work out but I can choose to make wise decisions based on what is right for me instead of making decisions based in fear. One thing I’ve learned is letting Captain Fear steer the ship I’m not making healthy and loving choices.

“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday, and I love today.” ~William Allen White

don't let fear determine your lifePhoto credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

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I love your comments! When you made a choice motivated by fear, how did it work out for you? Are you facing a major decision today? What would happen if you made the choice that you know is right instead of listening to fear?

17 Comments

  1. Signing up for new messages

    • Thanks for visiting, Jan!

      If you’re interested you can sign up to receive new posts via email, here.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

    • God bless you. Your words reached, touched, and moved me.
      I am happy I am not the only one in the world with this ‘FEAR’ understanding. Thank you :)))))))

  2. Dear Chrysta,

    Your story is so inspiring for people who are stuck in an unfortunate situation with a workplace bully (usually a manager). You are right on target when you talk about how we all have choices to make and you clearly deserve a standing ovation for your actions in setting the wheels in motion to making a change, and carrying it through when the time was right! Bravo!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Sandra!

      Thanks for your support! Working with a bullying manager is undoubtedly a bad situation and I hope no one puts up with it for long. We all deserve better!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  3. Chrysta,

    What a great example of taking action fearlessly while having your ducks in a row. So glad you were able to get out of a toxic situation and not let your fear of survival kept you in it. An inspirational example I’m sure benefits all readers. Thank you!

    Alice

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Alice!

      All too often too many of us put up with toxic situations, thinking we have no other options but we always have other options. Sometimes they are scary options but things can work out well just as easily as they can work out poorly. I hope my story does inspire someone struggling with a similar decision.

      I appreciate your support and comments! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  4. Congrats Chrysta on making a fearless decision and taking a step forward! I am glad things are working out well. It is an important reminder of how are mindset can keep us trapped and, at times, we need to makes some personal changes in order to make bigger personal changes. You set out a solid example of doing just this.

    All the best! Jon

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Jon!

      You are so right- so often it’s our own mind that traps us in negative situations not the situation itself. When we know ourselves and consider our options- all our options- we can make conscious and loving choices.

      I appreciate your thoughts on this topic! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  5. Your message…fear of losing a person afte
    r nine years with an employee of relative stability and reliability made me very nervous. It took me several days and several positive intreviews to make me realizes there are great people out there whocan do as good or better job than what I had. Nice work on your blog!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Dave! I appreciate you stopping by my blog! :)

      I try to find opportunities in change, even if it’s a change I didn’t expect or didn’t want. In my experience life can be good or bad not depending on what happens to me, but rather on my attitude and what I do with what happens to me, and this is exactly the reason I believe the fears in my head are overrated!

      It’s not the situation that determines my life experience, it’s my attitude. And no matter what happens, there’s always the opportunity for things to be better.

      Looking forward to working with you! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  6. Hi Chrysta

    When you have options you can walk away, but unfortunately I couldn’t. But they laid me off, that worked out just fine. It is a bit of a struggle but it was killing me. Bully bosses should really be a bit more careful you never know when someone could flip out.

    Fear is a big factor in making smart choices. I wish I had been braver and stepped out of my comfort zone years ago. Probably would have made a lot more money and had a lot better work environment, if only I took the leap. Thought about it but just could never bring myself to do it.

    Good for you for taking a chance.

    Mary

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Mary!

      What’s important for me to remember in my life is not that I can always walk away right away, sometimes I do need to take some time to prepare for a major life choice, but it’s important for me to remember that I always have choices. When I let fear motivate my choices I may forget I have other options, or I might disregard good choices because there’s just a chance that choice won’t work out in my favor (but also a chance it will)!

      I’m sorry to hear you were in a bad work situation and were laid off- that is a struggle- but I’m happy it seems like you’re better off now, even if other things are difficult in the meantime. I do believe when we trust ourselves and make loving choices things work out in the long term more often than not.

      I really appreciate your comments! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  7. Good for you, Chrysta! I know exactly what it feels like to be in a job that makes you physically ill, and it is NOT WORTH IT. Your health and happiness have to come first–you’re no good to anyone if you burn yourself down to the ground, and no amount of financial security is worth your sanity.

    I’m so happy you made the leap and that the universe responded to you with a net just when you needed it. (Funny how it has a way of doing things like that…) :)

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Kelly!

      I’ve actually put my health at risk in past jobs and it lead to more serious illness and surgery. That experience taught me that it’s just not worth harming myself for a job

      In my most recent job I realized I had a bad situation on one hand and the possibility for either a good or bad situation on the other. hmmm… that made my choice to take my chances and resign a little easier. Even if resigning without another job didn’t work out I was already in a bad situation so I could only go from bad to bad. Of course, as it worked out, I went from bad to good! Yeee-haw!

      I know it’s going to work out for you, too, despite the recent setback. We’re hustlers, go-getters, and pursuers of dreams. Nothing can stop us! At least not for long! 😉

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

    • Chrysta ~ Love your take on the worst-possible choice: “from bad to bad…”
      IF the leap turns out “bad”, it presents a golden opportunity to reframe – as a *new challenge* :) and don’t we go *seeking* those, when things are going well??

      “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
      ― Benjamin Franklin

      • Thanks for your awesome comment, Karen!

        I love your perspective of reframing the situation as a new challenge. So often we stay in situations that aren’t working because we’re used to them, but rarely are they better or more comfortable than the alternative- we just tell ourselves they are better or more comfortable. So what if we told ourselves something different? What if we told ourselves, “hey, this is an exciting opportunity that I can make into anything I want it to be?”

        Thanks again for sharing! Have a grateful day!

        Chrysta

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