Afraid of Taking the Leap? Ask Madeleine

Woman Leaping Proactive ActionDear Madeleine,

I am currently in an unfulfilling job. I also have digestive health issues that are not being resolved through diet and supplements.

I am a creative person and I long to travel. I currently want to leave my job and travel around the world to heal and to write about my experiences—a blog first, a book later.

But I have fears about financially surviving; about what will happen when I return from my travels; about my safety on the road; about not being able to get rid of my health issues; and even about how to write a book. How do I get past the fear and take the leap?

Afraid to Take the Leap

Dear Afraid to Take the Leap,

Oh, I hear your cry for freedom and it resonates deeply. But I’m torn between focusing on your fears and simply yelling “Go now before it’s too late!”

Obviously, I can’t tell what to do. Here is what I can tell you. You have a vision that leaving your job and traveling will be part of your healing process. You may think this kind of inspiration or calling is something that happens to people all the time. I can assure you this is not the case. In my experience there is a lot to be gained from heeding inner wisdom like this.

But there is no getting past fear. And while fear is designed to keep you from making stupid mistakes, the trick is to not let it also keep you from your heart’s desire.

All of your fears are well founded. Use them to help you prepare. Let’s take one at a time.

  • Use your financial fears to ensure that you save up, sock away a reserve, and proceed frugally. Your worry about where you will land once you are done with your travels will guide you to set up some options for a soft landing.
  • Safety on the road? Well, yes, that is reasonable; the world is frightening. Ask yourself what would make you feel safer. Finding travel companions? Taking a self-defense class?
  • Your health problems may not be resolved; that’s true. The fact is that they may never go away, so you need to be prepared for that. But at least you know for sure that what you’ve already tried hasn’t worked. What can it hurt to try other things?
  • Finally, you should be terrified by the idea of writing a book. I can tell you from personal experience that the only way to figure out how to write a book is to start writing.

There. Still scared? Sure you are. Because that was only the tip of the iceberg, right? The thing to do with fear is welcome it into your life. Make a list of every single fear you have and do everything you can to reasonably protect yourself from worst case scenarios.

Who knows what kinds of responsibilities you are going to assume in the future—spouse, children, aging parents? I always think part of my job as a coach is to work with people toward their having as few regrets as possible at the end of their lives. So maybe the question to ask yourself is Which choice would I regret most in five years: maintaining status quo or going for the big vision? There is a good chance that if you don’t seize the moment now for your grand adventure, you will regret it.

I am very much influenced by a lovely TED Talk that a friend shared with me recently. It is by Amy Krouse, a wonderful artist and writer who died of cancer last month at 51. Her talk is called “7 Notes on Life.” I wrote them down and taped them to my wall. The seven points, represented as notes on a musical scale, are:

  • Always trust the magic
  • Beckon the lovely (Amy said “I tend to believe whatever you decide to look for, you will find. Whatever you beckon will eventually beckon you.”)
  • We are all Connected
  • Do (take action)
  • Cultivate Empty space
  • Figure it out as you go
  • Go to what makes you come alive

She did the talk in 2010, long before she knew that she would die of ovarian cancer in 7 years. I can only imagine that she lived by this code and sure was glad she did when it was all cut short.

You sound like a smart, rational person who would first prepare properly and then, in fact, be able to figure things out as you go. I always encourage my clients—and my children, for that matter—to keep moving toward the heat. But I like the way Amy says it: “Go to what makes you come alive.” How can that be a bad idea?

I am clearly biased on this one. It is my nature. That being said, if you decide not to leap, at the very least go find yourself a job that is fulfilling. Please let me know what you decide.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

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