I don’t know if there is something in the water or something but lately I’ve been having lots of conversations with clients, colleagues, and friends about their struggles in making a shift – a change in their career, their business, in their personal lives, with clients, with their staff.
This “fence straddling” is driving them bonkers- they are up at night unable to sleep, tossing and turning with uncertainty about which way to go, which path to choose.
So, what happens?
Maybe you’ve been exactly where these folks are. I know I certainly have.
From Bras To The Business Fox
I spent a good portion of my early career in the women’s underwear industry. I felt I had the best job in the world- I was working in a very creative yet strategic business. I got to develop strong leadership as well as business acumen. I got to travel all over the country and the world to get ideas and trends for future product development.
And then the industry changed. The business shrank to a fraction of it’s former size, department stores were becoming dinosaurs, and my career was feeling like a noose around my neck, with nasty bosses pulling tighter and tighter.
The problem was I didn’t want to just get another job. I knew that the grass wasn’t going to be any greener in another company.
Everyday, I’d escape the misery of my office to go out for a quick sandwich on 34th street in Manhattan.
Everyday, I’d swear I’d go back to the office and hand in my resignation.
Everyday, I’d have tears in my eyes because I knew I didn’t have the grit to go back and do this.
Because I was terrified!
- Although I was married, I knew my then-husband wouldn’t be able or willing to support us both until I figured out what was next.
- I had no skills other than manufacturing underwear – or so I thought.
- I could not see any way to quickly replace my 6-figure salary and benefits package without just getting another J.O.B. (I used to describe this time as being in jail with bars made of $)
I just sat on that fence.
I sat on that fence for 4 years.
Four years of yearning to do something more with my life and enjoy being challenged and productive the way I had in the past.
I was pretty darn stuck- and worrying every night about whether my company would make it, worrying about whether my job was secure, worrying about if it was secure how I was ever going to pull myself out of there and start a new fulfilling path.
And here’s the thing:
No one around me “got” how I felt.
They thought I was crazy or ungrateful.
My industry friends thought I was nuts- I had this cushy job with a nice salary, package, lifestyle, and I could do it with my hands tied behind my back, so to speak.
So how did I finally get unstuck?
Well, the universe stepped in and did for me what I couldn’t do for myself…. I think.
Maybe I willed it into being. Sometimes I think that’s exactly what happened.
My company decided to close my division.
But one thing I am crystal clear about. The second they closed the division, I made a decision and got off the fence.
Ok, so I needed a big push. But I used that push to get me going.
I chose to go off into the unknown of entrepreneur-land and launched The Business Fox.
This choice led me to the most amazing path of personal and professional growth, and the fulfillment of knowing that I can and do make a difference with many many people.
I ask myself so often: Would I have leaped if I hadn’t gotten the push?
I believe the answer is yes.
But it got me thinking……
Why won’t people take the leap that will make them happy?
There are 3 big reasons that people will not make a leap that they believe will give them greater fulfillment and success:
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of choosing the wrong path (a.k.a. fear of failure)
- Fear of being uncomfortable in new territory
My client Rebecca has been sitting on the fence for two years.
After many years working as an independent consultant and doing quite well at it (she tapped a very lucrative niche in medical practices) her top client invited her to go to work for them full time. She was a single mom and her son was about to go off to college. Rebecca thought this was a sign from above to make that leap and take a job where she’d get a dependable paycheck and full benefits, making things a lot “easier” while she was funding her son’s education.
Well, going internal changed everything. Her company viewed her and her contribution differently. They saw her as a questionable cost center vs. a real asset. Her boss often ignored her, and let other leaders in the company tread on her turf. He rarely supported her compared to when she was in her own business.
For the last two years, Rebecca has been back and forth in her mind about whether to stay full time or go back out on her own. One month she’s ready, the next month her company throws her a bone and she’s hooked again.
Let’s look at the cost of this indecision:
- If Rebecca were building business for herself she could make more money. True, it wouldn’t be a guaranteed paycheck and she’d have to fund her own benefits, but her earnings also would be unlimited.
- Her stress level is generally pretty high because she often doesn’t know if her company is going to keep her or let her go.
- Her stress level is high from the way her boss dismisses her and her fellow colleagues don’t truly appreciate her contribution to the company.
- Rebecca is not doing what she truly loves and is great at. She is doing what is asked of her in this job. Her full creativity and expertise are going under-used.
- The cost of the back and forth I’m in /I’m out yo-yo – pretty friggin’ high.
So how do you stop the stuck and make that leap you dream about?
If you’re like most people, you’re wired to avoid pain more than to seek out pleasure.
How do you get out of this fix?
I’m not going to advise you to just feel the FEAR and do it anyway.
You already know that.
Here are 7 practices to build up your mindset muscle to support you in making the important leaps in your life – ones that can bring you the kind of fulfillment and peace of mind you really want:
- Meditate. Clear your mind of the gunk at least 10 minutes a day.
- Trust your intuition. You already KNOW – like it’s a duh- what you want to do and should do. You are just resisting it and justifying it with not having enough facts.
- Get some facts to support your intuition, but don’t get stuck in the weeds of endless data that will drive you deeper into indecision. Look at “worst case scenario.” Can you live with it? If yes, then you know you can give yourself the green light. Just remember, your belief about the worst happening usually doesn’t ever happen.
- SEE the true cost of your indecision: peace of mind, health, money, time, love, freedom.
- What is your big WHY? What is your true purpose? When you focus on your purpose, your mission, what you are most inspired by, you will feel much stronger in your ability to withstand the possible discomfort of change.
- Commit. Whatever you choose, make a commitment to this choice. Commitment doesn’t mean do what’s comfortable or only when it feels comfortable. Commitment is sticking to this choice and seeing it all the way through.
- Cautiously seek counsel. Most people will scare you off of living your dreams. Why? Because they don’t want to feel as though they are alone in being fearful and stuck. Seek out the counsel from those who have leaped, those who want to see you grow, stretch, succeed, and be confident in your decisions.
Think about this…. when you are stuck in your head you are often in a very bad neighborhood. Get out of your head and get onto a bigger and better playing field.
Your very sore fence-sitting butt will thank you.
Now it’s your turn:
What’s the worst fence-sitting mistake you’ve ever made? (and what happened?)
P.S. Mine? In 2008 the value of my little house in New York blew up. Some smart folks around me were selling, but I was too scared to take action. I just sat on the fence (it was one of those railroad tie fences as a matter of fact). I was afraid I wouldn’t find anything comparable. Guess what happened a year later! (Fence-sitting cost: multiple five figure$- ouch!)
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