I have a friend whose approach to life is: “Find the densest part, and run straight into it.”
That’s admirable, but it’s definitely not me.
I’m more of the “avoid this difficult issue for months, pretend it’s not happening, suffer at length, sweat it out, and then maybe possibly sort of do it” type.
But you probably know as well as I do what happens when you play the procrastination game with fear:
Every day that you don’t face it, it gets harder to do it the next day.
Which means that with each passing day, the gap — the one between where you are now and the scary thing you need to do — keeps growing, and your anxiety grows right along with it.
Before long, that gap (which may have started out as a fissure, but now is more like a canyon) seems nearly impossible to traverse.
I’ve learned the hard way to jump that gap before it becomes dangerously wide. And always, without fail, here’s what happens on the other side:
To prove my point, and to inspire you to jump whatever gap that has you paralyzed with fear, I’m sharing 3 of the scariest things I’ve ever done … all of which I thought I could never do.
ONLINE DATING, THE STUFF OF MY NIGHTMARES
Honestly, I still cringe when I have to write the phrase “online dating.”
I’m an introvert. And I like it that way. When my mom taught me about “stranger danger” in kindergarten, you better believe I listened (and probably took notes).
I’m also terrible at chitchat, small talk, and mingling. I’m way better at jumping straight into the deep end. I’d rather have an intimate gathering where everyone has to sit in a circle and share their deepest shame than be forced to have surface level conversations with a bunch of strangers (this is why I love coaching, obviously).
Also, I used to believe that online dating was exclusively for weirdos and people old enough to be my parents.
Friends would suggest it to me, and I’d instantly shoot them down: “That’s not me. No one I would like is online. It’s too awkward.”
Those excuses were semi-true, but they masked what was actually going on — I was terrified of being approached by a bunch of strangers.
And of course, like clockwork whenever I’ve resisted something hardcore, the Universe decided to give me an opportunity to change my mind.
One day, I was minding my own business while walking my dog, and I was hit forcefully by the thought, “You need to do online dating.”
Obviously I dismissed it as nonsense. But then it kept harassing me. Within the span of a few days … I randomly watched an episode of The Dog Whisperer, and a couple mentioned they’d met online; a girl I discovered on Facebook mentioned she’d met her spouse online; and a podcast that had nothing to do with online dating brought it up.
So I did the only thing I could do. I told Kristen what was happening, and she laughed really hard at me and insisted that I do it.
And you know what happened? Not much.
I don’t have a happily-ever-after ending for you (yet). But that’s not the point!
The point is this: I tried it. And yeah, it was sort of awkward. And for sure, it’s not my favorite way to meet or communicate with people. But neither was it this terror-inducing thing that I’d made it out to be.
Instead, it’s sort of become a point of pride. I did something I swore to anyone who would listen that I would never do. And I’m fine.
THAT TIME I FIRED A CLIENT
Most of my clients would be surprised to hear this, but I am always afraid at the beginning of any new coaching relationship.
I’ve coached hundreds of people over thousands of hours … but the fear never totally goes away.
It’s a vulnerable job. You’ve agreed to help someone figure out their life purpose. They deeply care about what happens during our sessions, and so do I.
But … not everyone is suited for coaching, and I haven’t always known that going into it.
I once had a client who said all the right things: She wanted to figure out her passion, she was excited about the prospect of leaving her job, and she wanted to address some of her self-sabotaging habits.
But she never followed through. She would agree to work on something before our next session, and she wouldn’t. She was late or completely MIA for every call we had. She agreed to pay her invoice by a certain date, and never paid.
She clearly wasn’t ready for coaching, but I’d never “fired” someone before.
What if she blamed me for not trying hard enough to help her? What if I crushed her spirit and made life even more difficult for her? What if she bad-mouthed me to everyone she knew?
I took a deep breath and wrote her the most compassionate-yet-firm email I could muster. I told her this wasn’t going to work anymore, and wished her well.
And I never heard from her again.
Scary, vulnerable, anxiety-inducing? Yes.
But was there terrible fall-out? Did my reputation suffer? Did she send me a scathing response? No. I was fine. (And I learned a thing or two about avoiding those types of clients, to boot.)
DISAPPOINTING MY PARENTS
By the end of 2012, I was in way over my head.
Earlier that year, in a fit of misery, I’d quit my steady corporate job and started nannying part-time.
Kristen and I had just decided to become coaches and start a business, but it would be another 2 years before I was doing it full-time.
Hoping I’d somehow be profitable sooner rather than later, I was supplementing my meager nannying income with money from savings instead of getting another part-time job.
Over the span of 8 months, my savings had all but disappeared, I was very far from having any sort of coaching income, and I’d started to rack up thousands in credit card debt. Unsurprisingly, I was having panic attacks on a pretty regular basis.
I knew that I couldn’t maintain this pace for long, but I was terrified of admitting how far I’d fallen, so I put it off as long as I could … but I gave in and came clean to my parents on Thanksgiving Day, 2012.
I told them about blowing through my savings and racking up debt, and I confessed that I clearly needed an actual job, not a part-time job.
Disappointing people you love is probably the scariest thing you can do.
My parents didn’t recognize the person I’d become that year. They were shocked that I would be that irresponsible, and I don’t blame them.
I very clearly remember them saying: “This isn’t the person we raised.” And they were right.
But … they didn’t disown me. Actually, they helped me figure out my next steps.
Did I hit rock bottom? Embarrass myself? Disappoint the people who love me most? Yes.
Was it the end of the world? Did the shame last forever? No.
In fact, confessing to my parents was a huge relief. The fear I had about telling them the truth paled in comparison to how good it felt to not carry the burden alone anymore.
IT’S YOUR TURN
I’m going to challenge you to do something scary that you’ve been avoiding.
Maybe it’s a difficult conversation with your boss. Maybe it’s telling a friend how you really feel. Maybe it’s setting a boundary with someone. Maybe it’s taking an honest look at your financial situation. Whatever feels scariest right now — you know what your thing is.
And if you want some accountability and solidarity, share the scary thing you need to do in the comments. Kristen and I will encourage you, and be with you in spirit!
TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!
If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:
We’re now recording our blogs for you!
Here’s Rachel reading this week’s blog:
Rachel (+ Kristen)