“Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.”
– William Shakespeare in Measure for Measure

A few years ago when I was still living in Reston and working in corporate America as a business analyst, I was not very happy with my job.  I felt like I was “stuck” with nowhere to go.  The salary and bonuses plus benefits were the nice golden handcuffs that kept me hanging on for a few years beyond when I should have stayed. I was afraid to start over in something new but when I finally sat down and really thought about my situation, I realized that I was even more afraid to live with the regret of not pursuing something I might really enjoy like writing triathlon coaching and race directing.

Once I made the decision and took the risk to leave corporate America and start my own business, I’ve never regretted it. Sure, it’s been scary sometimes not having a bi-weekly direct deposit into my checking account, but I’m also living the life I choose to live on my terms rather than someone else’s.

What I learned from this experience and other is that fear is a primary motivator. As humans beings, I’m convinced that we can rationalize everything we decide to do or not to do. It’s way too easy to get stuck in the pattern of “I have to…” or “I need to…” or “I’m supposed to…” In reality, these are simply the stories we’re telling ourselves that keep us from doing the things we really want to do in life.

I believe the number one thing holding each of us back from living the lives we truly want to live and doing the things we truly want to do is our own limiting beliefs and fears. In other words, it’s each of us – not the outside world!

One of my friends is going through an organizational downsizing at work. His belief is that he has to now work extra extra hard, spend a lot more time at work including weekends and continuously “politic” to ensure that he keeps his job. I admire his tenacity, but I can also tell he’s miserable. He’s choosing to give up some of the things that he’s truly about like training for triathlons and spending more time with his family. In his mind, this is what he “has to” do.

Is it truly? I believe there might be a better job out there for him that enables him to also do things he’s passionate about, but he’s going to have to take a risk by looking for it.

Challenge your paradigms. Our paradigms are how we see the world the framework and the filter through we which categorize what we see.A simple example is if you and I are sitting across from each other looking at a coin in between us. I see the head and you see the tail. When asked to describe the coin, we describe two completely different images even though we are both looking at the same thing. In many cases, it’s easy to confuse how we “think” the world really is with what the world really is.

I’m giving you permission to challenge your assumptions and limiting beliefs. You can choose differently. It may be scary, but it also might be the right thing to do.