Some day I might have a mid-life crisis. I might buy a red convertible, I might fly myself around the world several times, I might attempt to summit Everest. A few days ago I had an epiphany when I was thinking about my future mid-life crisis. I sure as heck didn’t want to look back and regret how I handled my work/life balance, or regret how I handled the most important relationships in my life. So, what to do?
Professional development is actually personal development
Sitting there on the porch early this one morning, I had an epiphany. My entire career – which in a nutshell would relate to my person as professional development – was not in fact about professional development. It was entirely about personal development. When I’m 79, enjoying the sunshine on a beach in Hawaii playing bridge with my husband and some best friends, that section of my life – my career – will simply be boiled down to how I grew as a person and what I learned from the challenges that I overcame.
And so, there’s nothing – ever – to be afraid of
This realization came with another – that if my next thirty years of working in the professional world was most importantly about growing personally, I would never have a reason to be worried or scared of failure. The ceiling of limitations around what I could or couldn’t do as a sole business owner or what I might do in a second career when the time comes, was suddenly lifted. If failure directly correlated with personal growth, than why would I ever need to fear failure again?
It was pretty easy to sit there on the porch and think that, and it’s pretty easy for me to sit here at my desk and type it up. Have I really been able to execute on this new idea since its conception? Hmmm….. I’ve been working on it! When it comes down to it, you can’t always make decisions in the workplace in this happy-place where failure doesn’t exist.
Five ways to help you leave fear at the door:
1. Fear doesn’t count as a reason
If you’re not confronting a situation, improving a relationship, or reaching for an opportunity because of fear, that’s not a real reason. Sometimes I check myself: am I not doing this because I’m scared? If my answer’s ‘yes,’ then the decision’s made for me. Go do it.
2. Improve, improve, improve
There will always be some meetings you’re nervous for, no matter how much you’ve prepped. Relax in your nerves, it means something good’s about to happen. If it goes horribly, the ‘good’ part of the experience relates to your personal growth. Pick your head up, learn the lesson, and improve your game. Try again.
3. Talk to an expert
No matter how alone you feel, somebody has done this before you. Thousands of people, actually. Find one of them and buy them a coffee. And then buy them four more.
4. There’s never just one chance!
This might be The Big Game, but if you understood that there really will be more big games, it’s easier to take risks – you know you’ll get another chance to make a better smarter decision next time around based on what you learned. This is just the ‘first’ time, so go all in.
5. And… Trust yourself
I ran into this article by Glenn Llopis, Getting Past 4 Common Workplace Fears, and loved what his 97 year-old father told tell him: “…if you trust yourself enough to confront adverse circumstances – you would learn so much more than you would by running away from them.”
As a business owner, this quote by Ayn Rand hits home:
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me?” -Ayn Rand
We’re guaranteed a heap of personal development, no matter how our careers turn out. I’ll get to my convertible, international flights and Everest attempt after my bridge game, but I’ll call it retirement instead.