Fear

If you are wishing for your dream job but are immobilized with fear, how can you go past that fear?

Let us take a moment to look at your nemesis, fear. When it comes to fear we are little better than rats. Brain research shows that we are wired to choose instant gratification over long – term gain. Much as we want our dream jobs, our brain’s circuitry pushes us to stay with the secure jobs we already have. In other words, now we want our steady paycheck, in the future we will risk pursuing the job of our dreams.

 What causes us to favor the immediate over the long term? It is not simply impulsivity. It is caused by the interplay between our brain’s limbic and analytic systems. The limbic system, the seat of our feelings, controls our emotional response to situations. It functions a bit like an impatient child: strenuous, demanding and wanting immediate gratification. The analytic system, on the other hand, controls our thoughts, and more closely resembles an experienced lawyer, staying cool and rational even under stress. Whereas the limbic system places a premium on rewards in the present (it wants what it wants now) the analytic system values future rewards just as highly.

Apply this to leaving our current jobs and pursuing dream jobs and you can see how, in a sense, our brains are wired against us. Our analytic systems can do a stellar job acknowledging the long term benefits that come from working jobs we love, but our volatile, protect – me – now limbic system starts to hyperventilate at the idea of losing the secure job we have now. No wonder we have a hard time getting past our fear!

And as if our own physiology were not obstacle enough, there are plenty of other factors that encourage us to stay where we are. Money, family, loss of identity, fear of exposing the ‘ real you’ , the ‘fraud factor’ (that voice in our heads that says – you mean you think you can succeed at that??’) are all steely – gripped forces that work to keep us where we are.

But they don’t always keep us where we are. Despite the fact that everyone faces those hurdles, some people manage to surmount them and move forward toward their dreams. People with nothing in the bank quit their jobs and open successful businesses. Sole earners with families to support move cross country to work at starting wages in their career of choice. People who have spent years building respect and credentials in their profession chuck it all and go back to square one in another. And people who are terrified to expose the dream they have sheltered inside for decades manage to give up the career that was expected and take up the very different kind of work they love. How do they do it? What enables them to put aside their fear and take the risk?

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