I’ll admit it. I get nervous whenever I’m about to do something different. Especially when that “something different” means a big part of what I know will have to change.
I’ll have sleepless nights when facing a future that is new and uncomfortable with no idea what will happen. Worst-case scenarios would suddenly start playing in my head, like some horrible movie where everything goes wrong at every turn. “Am I making the right decision? What if my life becomes worse? What if, after this, everything goes to hell in a handbasket?”
I would sit up suddenly in the night, and in a nervous sweat, think and rethink and rethink. And rethink. Often when I finally manage to convince myself that I am doing the right thing, something inside me always tries to convince me otherwise, pulling me back into the safe and familiar.
Hearing this, most motivational speaker-type people would say: “Just jump in! You’ll never know what you’re missing if you don’t try! You can’t score a goal if you’re not on the pitch! Change is inevitable so embrace it! Don’t be afraid!”, and all that positive affirmation talk.
You’ve heard all that before. In fact, you’ve heard those words so much that they feel cheap and devoid of meaning. More importantly, they don’t seem to address the nagging primitive issue that is pulling you down and begging you not to change.
I agree with the typical motivational speaker. I do. Yes, you should jump in. Yes, you should get on the pitch and freakin’ score. Yes, you should embrace change, and yes, change is inevitable.
I just don’t agree with these three words: “Don’t be afraid”. I think you SHOULD be afraid. You are making a decision that will change the way you work, your routines and even your life. You will not be in your comfort zone anymore. And you don’t even know whether this change will get you what you want. So if it all sounds so bad why even make that decision to change?
You guessed it. Because the whole world is changing. Whether you like it or not, change is happening right before your very eyes. Everything will always, ALWAYS, be new and foreign, and filled with terms and language and innovations you can’t understand, and that pimply-faced, snot-filled 19-year-old with a weird haircut sitting next to you in Starbucks sipping iced latte while playing DotA on his laptop will be more clued in about the current world than you.
If you don’t change, you’ll become a museum piece, displayed for the amusement of kids walking by and whispering, “He doesn’t even know who PewDiePie is!” (Ok yes, I am speaking from experience).
Yes, be VERY afraid. In today’s world, and oh my god I can’t believe I’m saying this for the third time, change is inevitable. Just when you think you have finally understood a new thing or idea or concept or product, along comes another thing or idea or concept or product that totally changes everything all over again.
The refresh button seems to be constantly clicking, and the whole world seems to keep changing all the time. You can’t just decide to not evolve and just stay where you are. Life is constantly moving and changing. If you don’t evolve, you will get left behind. And yes, you can go and be a hermit in some island and live off the land with your bare hands (Wait a minute, that actually sounds like a good idea!).
The point is, you have to face
this whole new world, and continually adapt to its ever-changing persona. So, how could you not be afraid of this continually-evolving reality?
Even companies are afraid of change, with some spending huge amount of resources on maintaining stability and order, and forgetting the whole “change is inevitable” mantra (fourth time!) and that chaos and disorder are usually the main catalysts for innovation and brilliant world-changing ideas.
That’s understandable. We fear to lose the things we know, to lose control of our own lives, to be out there doing uncomfortable new things in a strange environment, especially with so much at stake. Changing the world might be inspirational to say, but in reality, most of us are scared of the changes it would bring to the safety barriers and routine life we have painstakingly cultivated around us to protect us from the unknown.
That’s just it. We fear the unknown. We think bad things could happen to us. And so we are always on edge. We wake up in the middle of the night, in a nervous sweat. Our body takes on adrenaline, our heart rate increases and more blood flows to the brain and muscles, all part of a primitive fight-or-flight response to stressful situations.
We think. And rethink. And rethink. We play out all the different scenarios and possibilities and disasters. And there it is.
This is why being afraid is necessary.
Being afraid gets you ready for change. Being afraid gets you in the zone to make that change.
Being afraid means you will be prepared as you step out into the brave new world of pimply-faced 19-year-olds.
Being afraid means you will have a plan, and a back-up plan, and more back-up plans. You might fail. But you are ready if you do. In fact, you are ready if you fail multiple times, like most people do when they are trying something new.
So be afraid. You’re supposed to. But, don’t ever let that fear stop you from jumping in for the ride of your life.
The writer runs some television stations, a production house making TV shows and movies, and gets panicky trying to figure out his next tweet