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
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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?Join the Conversation
If there’s one constant in business it’s the constant of change. Many times employees bear the brunt of this change. Organizations restructure departments and managers come and go. Getting a new boss is one of the most stressful changes an employee will experience.
I speak from experience on this topic. In the past two and a half years at the same company I’ve had four different managers. Every time I got word that my manager was changing I was filled with anxiety, frustration, and fear. What if I don’t like my new boss? What if he or she doesn’t like me? What if we have incompatible work styles? What if the new boss is demanding or wishy-washy?
A good boss and a bad boss can make or break a job. Great leaders know people leave managers, not companies. So what can an employee do? Are employees at the mercy of their manager?
Each time I got a new boss I did some things wrong and some things right. The biggest mistake I made when getting a new boss was focusing on my manager instead of my performance. My situation greatly improved when I started working with my new manager to accomplish common goals, focusing on my own productivity.
Additionally, when I stopped keeping a mental list of all the things I didn’t like about my new boss I started noticing my new boss had a lot of great qualities and made my work experience better in many ways.
While a manager’s leadership has a major impact on his or her employees, the employee’s attitude and actions are equally important. You have a greater influence over your job than you may realize. A purposeful and productive attitude not only improves your experience, it will positively affect your situation. Your new boss is likely to respond to your positive attitude with friendliness, support, and encouragement.
Each time I got a new boss without changing jobs I learned effective ways to manage the change. Here’s how can you make the best of a new boss?
Focus on today
Your old boss is gone and you may be happy or sad to see him go. Either way, it’s time to leave the past in the past and work with what you have today. Your new boss may be better or worse, but you’re guaranteed to feel frustrated and stuck if you spend too much time comparing what you had to what you have.
Getting a new boss is a great opportunity to enjoy a fresh start. Decide what kind of worker you want to be and be that. Use this opportunity to build your best reputation.
Find common goals
Talk to your new boss and find out what his or her goals are for you, for himself, and for the department. Discover common goals and work together to accomplish great things! Focus on solutions, not problems.
Offering help is an effective way to break the ice, get to know someone new, and build a mutually beneficial relationship. Networking starts with giving.
Being helpful is very empowering! Don’t forget, you have awesome skills to contribute!
Discover new opportunities
The change in leadership may bring new opportunities for you. Maybe there’s a skill you’ve want to learn, or a training you want to attend that your new boss will support. There may even be new positions opening up if your company has recently reorganized. Discover what opportunities are available to you and make the most of them.
Give the new boss a chance
Being a manager was a much harder job than I realized and being a new manager is harder! Your new boss is a human being, and as such he is likely to make mistakes just like you. Give your new boss a chance to settle in and learn the ropes because that’s the chance you’ll want your employees to give you when you’re the new boss.
Interacting productively and positively with your new boss will improve your work experience and your relationship with your new boss. Avoid complaining and focusing on the stuff you don’t like. Instead, seek collaboration and opportunities and make the best of your situation, even as it changes.
Much of what happens at work will be out of your control, what you can control is your attitude and behavior- make the choice to put your best self forward!
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One of the hardest parts of creating change in life is dealing with setbacks. Everyone experiences setbacks, and yet many individuals pay more attention to the setback than to their progress.
Life isn’t all or nothing, it’s not black and white, yet some judge life, themselves, and other people as if there are only two choices- right or wrong. Sometimes there is no one right choice, nor one wrong choice.
When mistakes are made it’s all too easy to overreact and feel as if there’s no chance to recover but of course there is. Everyone makes mistakes, and mistakes aren’t the end of your journey, they are simply signs that tell you which way to go next.
Each positive choice you make is a positive choice, even when life doesn’t work out the way you expected. Don’t discount the good choices you’ve made when you make a bad choice. You always have the opportunity to make a positive choice next time.
Sometimes a setback is not a mistake, but a change in situation such as layoffs, a mentor or advocate moving away, or your car breaking down.
In the moment these situations can become larger-than-life, negatively affecting all aspects of your day. You may fail to see there are many possible outcomes, and even some new opportunities available to you. Happy and successful people recognize the value in making the best of your situation, especially when faced with setbacks.
Whatever setbacks you experience, the best thing you can do is move forward. Here are some other ideas for dealing with a setback.
Feel your feelings, then let them go.
It’s likely you’ll experience uncomfortable emotions as the result of a setback. You may feel angry, scared, embarrassed, or guilty. Find healthy and appropriate ways to express what you’re feeling. Acknowledge the emotion and let it go. The longer you hold on to your emotional response, the longer you’ll remain stuck right where you are.
Inventory your assets.
Every setback provides a great opportunity to make a list of everything that’s working for you. Consider all the good choices you’ve made, as well as your progress and growth. Make a list of your accomplishments. You can use this list to keep your setback in perspective, and recognize other possible outcomes and opportunities.
Get some perspective.
Very few life-changing events in life are as big as we give them credit for in the moment.Taking a break, performing a simple and easily accomplished task, or referring to your asset inventory can be a great way to put your situation in it’s proper perspective. This perspective allows you address the situation with new ideas and solutions.
Avoid information overload.
After experiencing a setback it can be tempting to try to find a reason for what happened, or information to help you avoid a similar situation in the future. Doing some research can be helpful, but too much information can be confusing and paralyzing. Often a solution or opportunity will be evident when you stop looking so hard.
Don’t be a victim.
As soon as you start blaming other people for your troubles, you’ve painted yourself as a victim in your mind and you’ll be hard-pressed to make positive progress. Whether you stumbled, or a change was forced on you, you always have options, and one setback doesn’t define you or your life.
Be nice to you!
You may need a little extra TLC when faced with disappointment or challenge so remember to be nice to you. Participate in an activity you enjoy, spend time with friends, eat something you love and do not beat yourself up about it!
When faced with a setback, many people give up altogether. You’ve got nothing to gain by giving up, and you could loose sight of your goals, your purpose, and your dreams. The only real failure is failing to try.
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Stability is a concept of the past. Very few of us have true job security or business security, and changes in technology and business force us to adapt to change if we want to enjoy our best life and career success.
Three years ago I started looking for work for the first time in over 5 years in a completely changed job market. As someone who considered myself a skilled and successful professional, I wasn’t prepared for the changes in the job market that occurred. After 6 months of looking for work while I had my pay cut and lost my benefits, I was laid off.
In the last two years I’ve had three different jobs. I have learned a lot from the last three years of employment instability and change, and I now feel better prepared to succeed in any economy and I am far more experienced at dealing with change.
Managing change is one of the most valuable skills you can have in your life and your career. It will help you stay calm and rational, reduce stress during stressful times, and will build your reputation as a valuable employee.
Here are some lessons I learned about managing change:
You don’t have all the information yet, and I strongly encourage you to wait for more information before making a major life decision during a transition. You may get laid off, but if you quit before the layoffs you could loose severance pay and unemployment benefits.
Depending on your financial situation, you may have the opportunity to turn down a job offer if the job is not right for you. If you’re not yet unemployed, or you’re newly unemployed, you don’t have to accept the first offer you receive.
I accepted my first job offer on unemployment out of fear, and had to quit that job because of unsatisfactory work conditions. After that experience, I turned down three job offers before accepting an offer that was right for me. I’m grateful I didn’t accept another job offer out of fear.
Keep it in perspective.
Unwanted change is scary- terrifying even! Your mind will start processing the worst case scenarios.
The truth is you don’t know what will happen. A positive outcome is just as likely as a negative one, and I repeated that statement to myself anytime I needed to hear it. I kept repeating it until I believed it.
Recognize and accept the situation is out of your control. There is peace of mind and heart in letting go of what you can’t control.
When I experienced the height of my uncertainty, worry and anxiety, I wrote the following on a note that I attached to my computer monitor, Just for today I will love myself enough to give up the struggle over something that is out of my hands.
I looked at that note every day, and every time the knot in my stomach started to grow. I took a deep breath in, and out. I walked. I stretched. I found some way to release the tension and negative energy from my body and I let it go.
Believe in yourself.
You’re capable, you’re skilled and smart and talented! Find your confidence within.
You have valuable skills and experience and you can put them to good use. Choose to put them to good use. Focus on what you can do (be the best at what you do best) instead of what you can’t do (change the situation).
After my company was acquired I was reassigned to a new job. I made a poor first impression on my new boss by focusing on my fears instead of my strengths. I started focusing on doing my best work instead of focusing on my fears, and I soon renewed my good reputation.
Invest in yourself.
Take advantage of opportunities to grow professionally.
Learn a new skill, network, take on a new project, get involved at work. You’ll boost your confidence, increase your value, and raise your visibility.
During my employment transitions I found a mentor, took advantage of training, joined professional associations, started this blog and improved my confidence and my skills. Taking an active role in my development made me feel empowered instead of helpless.
Take care of yourself.
You are better equipped to manage change when you’re practicing self-care.
Get enough sleep, get support from family and friends, eat well. You’ll feel far less stress if you are taking good care of your mental, emotional and physical well-being.
I notice a huge difference in how I deal with stress on days I feel well rested. Minor events that might disturb me when I’m tired do not disturb me when I’m rested. I can concentrate better, breathe easier and manage change better.
Stop negative thoughts and encourage positive thinking.
Your perception of your situation is vital to your success. When I was focusing on everything I didn’t like about my unwanted job change, I perceived my job to be terrible. When I choose instead to focus on everything I did like about my unwanted job change, I perceived my job to be a promising and exciting opportunity for growth.
I love your comments! What unwanted change have you experienced in the past three years? How were you affected?
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