Want to Do Work That Inspires You? Follow the Fear

If you think you can do what you love for a living and still be comfortable, there’s something you need to know…

Inspiring work is not at all comfortable. It’s actually quite scary.

Great news, right? Glad I could be the one to break that to you.

Let me explain...

Here’s Why Our Desires Scare Us

The psychological stakes are higher for things that we care about. When we tap into our deepest desires, the things we most want to create in the world, we are vulnerable to three big fears:

  • What if we pour our heart into this thing and it fails?
  • What if we get judged for the thing we most want?
  • What if we actually do this thing, succeed, and then find out that it wasn’t what we wanted in the first place?

This is true in other realms as well. Scared to ask that person out? You probably really want to go out with them.

If you didn’t, it wouldn’t be that scary.

The things that scare us most are often the things that we most desire.

Isn't that kind of a bummer?

Not really. Because with this realization comes another, more encouraging one:

If you are struggling to find work that inspires you, all you have to do is follow the fear.

Don’t focus on what you want, focus on what scares you. Let fear be a signpost.

Because the truth is, it’s very hard to focus directly on what you want. Your mind is crafty, and it will cover it’s own tracks to keep you safe. This is called creative avoidance, and it’s probably the number one thing that keeps us from unleashing our full potential.

When I work with someone who is trying to “find their passion”, I usually assume that they’ve already found it. Their mind just isn’t letting them see it yet (one of the reasons why coaching is so valuable).

I’ve watched this pattern take place again and again. I’ve seen it in my clients. I’ve seen it in Emma’s story with The Riverside Project. And I've seen it in my own story, too.

When I was young, I dreamed of being a personal development guru. I remember telling my mom as she was driving me home from school, “I want to write a bestselling book and speak in front of thousands of people”. I was maybe twelve years old then.

Somewhere along the way, I “forgot”. Now I’m in the process of uncovering that dream. It may look slightly different now than the way I imagined it (I don't want to be a guru, and I hate the word self-help) but it all started with doing stuff that scared the shit out of me.

It's Your Turn

Choose something that scares you. One thing. Do it today.

Forget Myer’s Briggs. Forget job listings and new business ideas. You probably already know what you want to do with your life to some extent. You’re just too scared to admit it.

And it’s okay to be scared. We’re all scared, all the time. Most of us drown it out.

But fearlessness is not an option.

The only real decision is this: Will you recognize and harness that fear, make it work for you? Or will you let it engulf you?

Greg Faxon

Greg Faxon, 2829 Connecticut Avenue NW (Apt 513), Washington, DC 20008, United States