They say that there are three chronic types of fear: the fear of failure, fear of success and fear of change. Which one do you relate to?
Studies suggest that the greatest fear out of these three is the fear of change. I have to agree based on my limited experience. But I believe that this fear also has the greatest potential for helping us grow. There is no better time to start than right now. Ready?
From Confident Youth to Scared Middle Age
When my wife and I decided to change from full time legal professionals to focus on our creative lives I discovered how much I had changed as a person.
In my 20s I was full of confidence; basically fearless. I knew I would find work. I knew that I would have enough of what I needed. I knew the next day was filled with opportunity. Heck, life was a breeze. Even though I lived financially month to month.
Time Is a Thief
Over the years I grew more secure. Money and the trappings of success gave me the material security I though was the goal. But the price I paid was losing my confidence and self- assurance.
What is accumulated in material terms is easily lost. Plus, there’s the sense of responsibility that comes with a family. Suddenly, fear of losing these things, along with the image of provider, were at stake. I had to play it safe to preserve the lifestyle.
The Ego Has Landed
Sadly, with success comes the inflated ego. I am a typical introvert A-type personality – independent and driven – but with a sensitive ego that demands that I not make a poor decision and look foolish.
This means risks are bad. No hedge fund nonsense here. Blue chip investing only. Much of this is to preserve the ego and is rationalised as sensible caution. The other side of the argument suggests that he who hesitates is lost. Or at the very least is bored to tears.
The Side Hustle
Despite my innate caution, I kept growing my art portfolio. I painted daily with the focus that comes with this type of personality. Even with a full day in the office, I would paint at night, during lunch break and on weekends. It seemed that my energy did not stop when it came to painting.
I knew that to give up a regular and steady career required that I have a reasonably strong chance of making money as an artist. This stage is fashionably referred to as a side hustle. More like a race against time. And this time the stakes seemed very high.
The Leap of Faith
As one career dwindled away my art business grew. Let me be clear and say that the financial rewards of art are unlikely to come near my old career earnings. But I look forward to each day.
The creative opportunities never seem to dry up. Invites to host workshops, ideas for courses, books and many other exciting things keep popping up. What is the value of these things? Priceless, but not in the financial sense. Can I go back to what I was before? Not likely.
Yet the fear of change keeps coming back.
Learn to Manage Fear
I have come to accept that as I get older, I am unlikely to return to that fearless state that I once had in my 20s.
Many of you have your own fears of change. Retirement, health, family and financial changes typically bring much fear and anxiety. Moving home is another doozy for inducing fear. On it goes. Do you know the answer? Learn to manage fear by taking positive action.
The only solution for me is to remain busy doing the things that keep the doubts out of my mind. I take positive steps like getting to work each day. Painting. Writing. Marketing.
Whatever I need to do to make this change in my life one of growth. To me stopping equates dying, and that change is one that I prefer to leave to my Creator. While I still have a breath in me, I will keep on kicking.
The Path of Least Resistance
I know that I could have remained at a desk doing paperwork. I would have been secure due to a routine far removed from change. But you know that life is going to spring a few surprises anyway.
We fool ourselves thinking that change can be kept at bay. So why accept the path of least resistance and risk regret? No. Despite the fear, I need to work on my art and keep a firm grip on the mind games that conjure up fears.
Know Yourself but Take Action
I have sometimes encouraged people to take a leap of faith. Not anymore. Instead, I simply tell my story if they are interested, and let them decide on what is best for them. Fair enough?
Let fear be your guide and not your master.
Sometimes, what we fear is what we need to do, because humans are designed to seek out challenges. It is the secret sauce that makes life taste good. This may be the perfect time for you to begin your creative journey.
Keep in mind the truth that time is the one thing we cannot replace. I bet that you were taught not to waste limited resources. Few things make me feel as guilty as wasting time.
As the year nears its end, may I suggest that we all embrace change as the one true constant in life? Confront fear, and move on doing something that makes you feel excited to be alive and kicking. Sounds like a resolution worth making.
If you would like to explore the creative process more, you may like my new book, 52 Weeks of Creative Living. It offers a weekly piece of inspiration to keep your creative fire going all year long. Find it on Amazon in e-book or paperback.
Is fear your guide or your master? Are you able to embrace and not fear change in your life? Do you think that fear has the greatest potential for helping us grow?
(This article by Malcolm Dewey first appeared in Sixty and Me. To contact Malcolm about guest blogging on your website click here)
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa