Two Words That Prevent You From Building A Life You Deserve

18 March, 2015


What if you spend your days wondering what your life could be like? What if you fantasize about career fulfillment, financial reward or social recognition?

Or, what if every day you just keep doing what you’ve always done? What if, in a way, you’re a little numb, and so it doesn’t feel so bad?

But what if it does?

What if one day you choose to do something about it? What if, like my client Fiona (not her real name, obviously) you decide that the chapter of caring for children and helping your husband build his career is over? What if it’s your turn now? Or, what if you’re at a turning point in your career – at the crossroad between ambition and meaning? What if your business has plateaued and you need to invest heavily of yourself to take it to the next level?

But what if this is so scary and intimidating that you can’t even contemplate it? What if the prospect of change is so daunting that you can’t move forward even one bit to explore it?

At any of these moments you might ask yourself:

  • What if I can’t do it well?
  • What if people laugh at me?
  • What if it leads to financial ruin?
  • What if it leaves me strung out and irritable?
  • What if my husband/parents/children think I’m crazy?
  • What if I don’t have any time left for my husband/parents/children?
  • What if the emotional cost is more than I’m willing to spend?
  • What if I hate it?

I remained stuck in the ‘what if’ mode for years. It’s confidence-shaking and paralyzing. As the marketing head of a large corporate, I was living in a constant state of anxiety, cut-off from my own emotions except the terror that I’d be discovered for the imposter I thought I was. But change??? That was even more frightening.

I remember sitting on a park bench under a tree, the ‘what ifs’ tumbling in my head. I looked up and as if for the first time I noticed that every branch of the tree lands up at the end. I know that sounds odd, but bear with me. If I were to climb that tree, it wouldn’t matter which branch I chose, every one of them reached the light. There were 100s of opportunities in just this single tree! How liberating this was because I realised, in my own way, that all it takes to reach the light is to just start climbing the tree.

Children do this well. They don’t ask ‘what if I fail?’ they ask ‘what-if-I-had-special-powers-and-could-fly-and-what-if-I-built-you-a-super-cool-jet-pack-and-we-could-visit-each-other-in-our-space-stations-in-the-sky-and-what-if-I-was-the-commander-and-you-were-my-servant-hey-mom?’

Taking a leaf from their book, what if you were to simply try it on, as you would a new, erm, jet-pack? You don’t have to throw everything out in order to go in a new direction but explore it in small, digestible ways. Interviews or observation will help, as will volunteer work or consulting. Small regular steps will do it.

Do something creative. If you want to create something that’s inspirational, you can’t lead a life that’s dreary. What turns you on? Is it singing, sewing, scrapbooking, seeing friends or simply swimming? Whatever it is, start doing it in a small way. When you do you’ll be amazed at the experiences and opportunities that open up to you.

Are you surrounding yourself with supporters or naysayers? You’ve heard it before – you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with. These are the people who dramatically influence your life. Make sure you select them carefully, and if you can’t change them (like family for example) then work on your boundaries to protect yourself from their negativity.

Recognise your true value. One of the most amazing things about the work I do is the people I meet. Each of them is enormously talented. I’m honoured to know them. But the irony is that they don’t see it! Almost without exception, each of them fails to recognise what’s truly remarkable about them. And everyone is remarkable. So are you. If you can’t see it on your own, then find someone like a good friend, or a coach or a mentor to help you.

And finally, “Keep going for your dreams, because the world needs that special gift that only you have.” – Marie Forleo


Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.