This week I started flying lessons. No, not learning how to fly a plane. Trust me, I come dangerously close to knocking off the side mirrors on my car when pulling in and out of the garage…I certainly shouldn’t be flying planes.
What I mean is that I am learning how to fly by jumping.
Let me explain.
A few days ago, I jumped by giving notice at a job that I have been lingering at for a long time. I made the decision to do this so that I can focus on my graduate studies in nutrition and on building my business of helping people to eat better, get fit, and be healthy. That job was a safety zone for me, because although it wasn't much money, it did help to pay the bills for my family. The fear of quitting and committing completely to the uncertainties of entrepreneurship was keeping me stuck in this safety zone.
What will happen if I quit? What if I can't figure out how to build my business successfully? What if I screw up? What if the financial stress of not having that small, but reliable income, distracts me from concentrating on what needs to be done? There are literally dozens of "what if" questions that went through my mind.
I also worried about what other people in my life would think about this decision. Would they think I'm being irresponsible for taking this risk and putting what could be a financial strain on my family? Would they think I'm foolish for not waiting to have everything perfectly in place? Would they think I'm not good enough to be successful?
What finally became clear to me is the fact that this fearful pessimistic mindset could keep me stuck forever. And to me, staying stuck in a job that isn't fulfilling to me, is not healthy. My desire to do work that I'm passionate about, to be in a career that I believe in and that has purpose to me, is wayyy more important than any of those fears or worries.
So I decided to jump.
To learn how to fly, you have to jump. When birds learn how to fly, they might start out by bouncing around while on the ground, fluttering their wings for a bit. But eventually they have to take a big jump, trusting they will have the strength and ability to keep their wings in motion so they can fly for real. Flying doesn't happen by standing still and staying stuck. Flying happens after jumping.
The jumping part is scary…because I have NO idea how to fly to keep from crashing to the ground. But the jumping is also exhilarating…because I AM going to figure out this flying thing. And honestly, even if I fall…I’d rather hit the ground than stay stuck where I am and not try.
As for my worries about others disapproving of my decision? Maybe those people have become too used to settling for things in their own lives. Maybe those people are more comfortable with staying stuck rather than actually doing something about changing things for the better. Maybe those people are just uncomfortable when they see other people taking chances and going after their goals because they are not at a point where they have the courage to do the same. Those are their issues; not mine.
So all this made me think about how so many of us want certain changes to happen but sit around waiting for the perfect time to take action. Never jumping out of the safety zone of what is our current reality and into the uncertainty of what can be a better future. This applies to anything in life (not just career)...it can be with relationships, your health, some weight you really want to lose, or with taking your fitness to the next level. What things in your life are you stuck with? What keeps you from jumping and taking a chance?
We stay stuck (and don’t jump) because we don’t know what will happen when we do. We are afraid we will mess it all up…if we can’t have guaranteed success, then we don’t bother trying. But there is no perfect time to do something. Nothing will ever be perfectly in place before you go after any goal. Perfectionists like me have a tough time with that.
You do have the power inside of you to achieve your goals. But having that power does not mean those goals will be easy to achieve. You have to be willing to do the hard work. And willing to mess up along the way. It all comes down to what you REALLY want and being honest with your choices.
Because staying stuck and settling is a choice.
Jumping is a choice.
There is no right or wrong choice, but if you don't jump, you can't fly.
Strategies for Moving Forward:
1. Uncover the underlying reasons behind what is keeping you stuck from going after your goal. Write your fears down. Identify the obstacles. The first step in crushing your goals is to get real with what is holding you back.
2. Make a list of the ways your comfort zone is serving you. For example, if your habit of indulging in huge bowls of ice-cream every night is preventing you from losing weight, be honest with what purpose that ice-cream is serving in your life. Are you eating it for emotional reasons? It's not just because it tastes good; it is serving a bigger purpose.
3. Shift your mindset to the positive possibilities of what your life will be like if you decide to jump towards your goals. This positive energy will automatically open up doors for you to take productive action and kick ass. Focusing on the negativities and what can go wrong will only keep you in a state of fear.
4. Align yourself with people that will support your efforts and create some boundaries with those that don't. After all, birds of a feather, fly together...yeah...that was embarrassingly clicheic...
Inspired to fly?? Share this post and comment below if you have ever thought about jumping towards something!
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Megan Ántoni Placa, MS, CNS