how to change

How to Stop Fearing Big Changes

Transitions aren’t always easy.  But everyone has to face them at one time or another.

I’ve gone through a lot of big changes in my life.  Some were bad, some were good.  Each time I faced that point of transition when things started to change, I would take a step back, pause for a moment and remind myself that there would be something good waiting for me on the other side of the transition.

It’s that thought of something good waiting for me on the other side that helps so much.  That reminder that things will be better makes the big change more palatable.

Something I’ve learned is that the change or transition itself isn’t very frightening.  What’s scary is the thought of ending up in a miserable place by the time you get through it.

The thought of ending up somewhere terrible used to prevent me from making necessary and useful changes.  For instance, over ten years ago I decided to move almost 300 miles away from the city I grew up in to a major metropolis.  It was a decision I’d contemplated for years, but I never had found the courage to do it.

I wasn’t afraid of the change.  In fact, it was the opposite. I wanted to go through this transition to make the change happen.

What scared me was the thought of all these terrible things happening to me once I had made the transition.  I was afraid I would spend all this money moving only to end up jobless and alone in a big city.  What if it turned out to be a huge mistake in the end?

Of course, that never happened.

My worst fears never came true.  By the time I had reached the other side of the transition, I had gained more than I even expected.  Not only did I find a job and make a lot of new friends, but also met a woman who I would eventually go on to marry.

The experience of moving to a big city changed how I see transitions and life changes.

No longer do I fear a transition because of what I imagine might be waiting for me on the other side.  I don’t worry about all the bad things that could happen to me.   There are no worst-case scenarios playing out on in my head.

Now I prefer to think of things in terms of best-case scenarios.  What will be the best possible outcome waiting for me on the other side of this life change?  It’s helped build a lot of faith in my decisions for change.

I find that there are three things that really help me build this faith in the other side of big changes:

Trust in yourself and your abilities.

All changes require good decision-making.  You need to trust that you know the best decisions for your life and that the choices you make will be the correct ones.

Whether it’s quitting your job to find something better or moving to another country, you’re going to face a lot of new challenges and obstacles.

Most people underestimate their ability to successfully make it through a hard transition.  But often you have more skills and abilities than you realize.

The worst-case scenario won’t happen.

Right before you decide to take a chance, embrace that change and make a bold step towards something you want, a nasty thought will pop into your head.  It’s the shrill lingering thought that something absolutely horrible will happen if you do it.

These are the worst-case scenarios.  You tell yourself, “if I quit my job, I’ll end up penniless and homeless.”  Or you think, “Traveling will only get me kidnapped or murdered.”

For some reason, these thoughts are easy to think.  What’s harder is imagining the other side of the transition as something good.  The other side can be an opportunity for growth and your ticket to a better life.

Worst-case scenarios happen so rarely that you might as well be afraid of being struck by lightning.  Thinking of all the bad things waiting for you will only prevent you from taking necessary actions to change your life.

Above all: remain optimistic.

Like I said earlier, thinking that the other side will be worse is often a greater fear than the actual change itself.  So remaining optimistic about your transition is necessary to make sure that fear doesn’t creep inside your head.

Depending on how long your transition takes, it could be a while before you see the end.  You need to keep believing things will be okay.  Your optimism will keep you working towards the other side.

The minute you turn pessimistic, you start to expect things to go badly.  And once you expect things to go badly, they often will.

Make your change happen.

As I continue on through my life, I expect to continue making more and more decisions about where I want things to go.  That will mean a lot more transitions and changes to come.  But now I have faith that the other side of those transitions and changes will be positive and fulfilling.

You can’t be scared of making a big change simply because you’re afraid things will turn out badly for you.  Have faith that things will be good in the end.  It’s surprising how often they work out for the best.

Steve is the writer behind Do Something Cool where he blogs about travel, motivation, self-improvement and adventure.  He’s always looking for ways to make life more interesting.  Get tips on living life to the fullest by following him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

  • http://www.acalltoaction.net/ Trevor Wilson

    Transition always brings with it the fear of the unknown. We let this uncertainty cloud our thinking and, often times, paralyze us into inaction.

    But transition also brings with it opportunity. Without change we can have no progress. And it is this opportunity that we should be focusing on. Looking to the possibilties, instead of the uncertainties, encourages us to take action.

    And action is what brings us results.

    Cheers!

  • http://livezestfully.com/ Darren Hodgson

    Change is usually occompanied by worry. I’ve learned that in some cases procrastination can be a good thing. I’ll worry about the change later, for now I must do everything I can to ensure that the change has a positive outcome, after all about 90% of everything we worry about never comes to pass

  • Info

    just had a pratical example about change at work, back in 3 month ago, i spoted an improvement could cut down my 4 hrs of work to 1 hr, as it’s such a big through  but what would happen to my job if this change did implemtned, at the point of makeing that decision i started to worry if i would given an extra work or being redundant.

    After long creful consideration, I decided to go ahead with the change, and i suceed, saved 2 hrs of work and redundancy didn’t happen, and now i am happy and have 2 extra hrs to up skill and explore other area of business.

  • http://rhinowellnesscenter.com/ Chris Swenson

    Change and transitions can be hard. I have seen many persons over the years in counseling that have desired and wanted a change but, was paralyzed by fear of the change and transition as you discuss in your post.

    As a rhino I am aware of this fear in myself as well. Learning to manage the strong emotions that come with transition can be difficult for some.  As Trevor Wilson notes in the comments to this post, such strong emotions can cloud our minds. In fact, our minds are doing what it is supposed to do when we are fearing something; shutting down our human part of the brain and activating our animalistic brain (fight or flight responses). In a sense, we are losing control over what we really need to do and desire and giving in to our fears as a form of self protection; but, are we really protecting ourself? Seth Godin somes it up very well in his video’s and blog’s about the “Lizard Brain.”

  • Corey McGann

    It funny I always come on this site and its like I can always find the perfect article for what I am currently going through. I just put in my two weeks notice at my second job so I can focus on finishing school (one more year left) and my career. (maybe even starting my own company) 

    Thank you for posting this article, I am determined to succeed and I know I do posses the ability to succeed. Thanks for the inspirational article Steve

  • http://www.sociableintrovert.com/ Alex

    Steve, thank you for this article.

    You know, it was always hard for me to make a big change in my life, because I was afraid that the real life result of my actions will not look like the one in my head. Perfectionism, in other words. I am not actually afraid if something bad happens to me. But I am afraid that it won’t turn out as good as I imagine it in my dreams. That’s my biggest obstacle and challenge every time I try to take a step.

  • http://goalsetting-workshop.com/blog/ Jorge Blanco

    Change will never happen unless we take that big step. Take the risk, have confidence in yourself, believe that the change is achievable and good for you, and take the necessary measures to make the change possible.

  • me

    How can you make a change whilst you already know for sure you gonna be homeless and go through a lot of pain. If there wasn’t a minus standing in front of my 30 grand bankaccount, changes would be more than welcome. But depths make you stand with your back against the wall. So nice little peptalk, but it’s certainly not universal