As someone who has recently taken a major leap in making a life change, I have been approached by many with comments as to why it was so easy for me. Those comments were followed by 3 common reasons as to why it is impossible for them to make any change, even a small move forward. The thing I found most intriguing about these particular three, is that when they are used, they actually make the person feel like they are noble, a “good” person or that they are being realistic.
If you have been following my Blog, you know that last year I quit my job and sold all my belongings to travel across South America to pursue my dream of writing. It was a major leap, but definitely not an easy one. I had kept this dream buried for many years. I was hiding behind my fears by using these same “3 reasons” for not making this change sooner.
I Have To Think About My Kids
I do not have kids. This has made me a very easy target for many to use it as “The Reason” why it was so easy for me to make a change and why it is impossible for them. I want to be clear that I am talking about the people who have told me about how much they would love to make a change, but they have kids! I will not pretend I know what it is like to be a parent. However, I used my nieces and nephews as the reason why I couldn’t make a change. It was a perfect excuse to hide behind the real reason, my fear!
You see, by saying that I wanted to be a part of everything they did, made me look like the “Awesome Aunt”. Truth is, I was not so awesome. I was using these ten kids as my cover up and coming out as a hero. How could I actually believe that I was the best role model when I was afraid of being my true self?
Is giving up on doing what you love the best thing for your kids? It is a fact that kids learn and are influenced by what they hear, see and are shown. Their biggest influence is YOU, their parents.
I know it is not easy being a parent, you have responsibilities. But pursuing your passion should be part of your life. When your kids see you overcoming obstacles, facing your fears and reaching your goal, you will be showing them that anything is possible. What message are you sending them by remaining stagnant, coming home filled with bitterness and frustration from having spent a day doing what you hate? That life’s a bitch and it is best they realize it to avoid being disappointed? In other words, to blame any external force for not doing what they really want. Let’s stop trying to fill them with the same beliefs that were passed on to us. It is about time we stop this cycle and contribute to the new generation. One that will not hide behind our same fears by making excuses for not following their dreams.
They will learn that they will go through many challenges along the way. Each challenge is a lesson learned that will make them grow. You will influence them to take risks. By not giving up, they will reach their greatness. Leo Babauta has been a great inspiration to thousands of people to stop making excuses by changing our behaviors in his book The Power Of Less. His blog, Zen Habits became one of the top blogs in the world in less than twelve months. He has written a novel, completed several marathons and much, much more. Leo has SIX kids!
It Is Too Late
Why do we think that following our passion has a deadline? We actually use this one as if it was a very logical, realistic explanation for not pursuing what we really want to do. It is usually followed with an extremely “valid” back up reason as to why it is too late:
- It is too late now, I have bills to pay
- It is too late now, I am too old
- It is too late now, this is my life now
- It is too late now, I worked so hard for everything I have
Saying that it was too late meant that I saw and accepted myself as being part of the furniture. No way! I was worth more than that, I had a lot more to offer and contribute, so do YOU!
What is exactly the “everything” you worked to have? A house, two cars, fancy furniture and all the latest and greatest gadgets? Do you own these things or do they own you? Are you spending more time to maintain them and accumulate more than you are at working to become the person you would like to be? Is this really how you want to define yourself? Wouldn’t you rather be recognized by the values and principles you live by? It does not mean that you have to become homeless. It just means that you choose to define yourself through your experiences and maybe some of those things are getting in the way of that. You can only become the person that you wish to be through life experiences. I have no doubt that you all have faced challenges in your life. And I hope you did!
Your attitude towards those challenges is what will determine your wisdom gained from them. By embracing them, and learning from them, you will not hide behind your fears with excuses as to why it is impossible for you to follow your dream. You will gain courage and slowly learn to work with your fear.
For me, the real fear was to lose touch with everything I knew. What if my hard work pays off and I find myself surrounded by an environment that I know nothing about? Everything around me was familiar and comfortable. I knew where everything was and knew how tomorrow was going to be. If I succeed in my journey I could lose all my reference points and everything that I believe to be true maybe wrong!
Truth is, I was afraid to lose everything I knew… forever.
Today, I know that when you get rid of the old, you make space for the new. I did lose familiar things I liked. But they were replaced by things I didn’t know existed! I am so grateful for that. It was not always easy. It involved hard work. But It was fulfilling, because it brought me closer towards achieving my passion and being in harmony with my environment.
Let me tell you that it took a lot more of my energy sitting, doing a job that I no longer valued. That is a lot more draining than any hard work you put in doing something you love.
Disappointing My Family and Friends
This one haunted me for the longest time!! How could I let my mom, a widower for over ten years, down after all she sacrificed for her family and me? Following my passion meant that I would disappoint her. I would be going against everything she taught me. When I would tell myself that the reason I couldn’t do it was because I loved my family and friends too much to leave them behind, it made me feel good. It made me feel like I was a good person to think about others. Truth is I was afraid!
The people who truly love you only want what is best for you. When I first told my mom, she thought I was crazy. Why would I leave a good job, my house, a country like Canada to go to unprivileged countries? She was not completely wrong. I am a little “crazy”, but that is a whole different subject. After a while, she realized that she had based what she thought was best for me on her own experiences.
Believe me, once they see how happy you are, not only will they be happy for you, but, you will influence and inspire them in changing their beliefs and enrich their lives. You will never hurt them by doing what you really want. The only person you end up hurting is yourself.
There is something that I found intriguing that will also happen once you follow your passion. It is not always the people you thought would be your biggest fans or supporters that will be the ones to cheer you on. You might feel disappointed at first, probably have thoughts of regret, feel like you are losing your friends. But, HOLD ON. Here is the intriguing thing that happens. People you least expected start showing up in your life. They are cheering you on, telling you how much you have made a difference in their lives. Soon, you will have many new true friends. You feel more alive than ever, like you have been given a glass of water after spending three full days in the dry desert sun. It will happen, you will not please everyone, but, you will make a difference to so many more people. If there is a change you have been putting off because you would disappoint the people you love, STOP using them as your shield to hide behind your fear.
Have I completely overcome my fears? HELL, NO!! However, I have learned to work with my fears instead of hiding behind them by making excuses and pretending to be fearless. I do not have all the answers to not being afraid, I still am. The difference is that now I stand up to my fears.
Identify your fear, stand up to it, and do not let it control you!
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