Getting My Courage Back

March 7, 2017

(the title image is from my first ever ice climbing – not professional, but fearless!)

 

Have you always wanted to make some big changes in your life, but were held back by fear? Be it moving to a new place, changing career track, or starting a new business. Even you know that’s what your heart calls for, but you just couldn’t muster the courage to take the leap of faith?

In fact, I have been living in such fear for a long time and it was not even about a big adventure at all. For the past several years, as much as I love Boston, my heart has been telling me that I need to move on with my life. The world is too big and I long for exploring the unknowns.

I moved to Boston in late 2003 and it took no time before I fell in love with the city, declaring it my favorite for so many reasons – four seasons, education, professional development, friends and social circles, positive influence, active lifestyle with all my favorite sports within easy reach, close to nature from mountains to oceans, diverse cultural scenes, great food, proud history, awesome sports teams … and on and on – the reasons can go on forever.

I thought, “This place has so many things to explore that I can live here for 10 years.”

But, as my 10 years “deadline” approached and I started to think about moving, I kept delaying my move, saying, “I’m going to move after this year.” I found myself wanting to stay longer for one reason or another: to be close to my friends, to enjoy my favorite season one more time, to finish an educational program I was taking, to complete a project I was volunteering for … the excuses go on and on.

Though, I realized what keeps me in Boston is not just my favorite things, but also my fears. The longer I stayed, the bigger the fear. Whenever I thought about a new place to move to, I caught myself thinking, “But they don’t have this …” and while some of the “don’t have”-s may be facts, some came from my fear of the unknown. I was trying to find excuses to stay in my comfort zone.

As an immigrant living in this country without family, friends are all I have. Having been a nomad for so many years while traveling and climbing around the world, I treasure the safety and stability of a “home.” Moving to a new place is scary. I will have to start from scratch again to find new friends, to tap into a new community, build a new home. Will I enjoy it as much as Boston? Will I be as happy as I was in Boston?

It’s ironic to realize how much fear I have about moving, especially because I have been trying to encourage other people through my motivational speaking to overcome fear and pursue their dreams. I seemed to have less fear when I decided to go climb Everest than to move – how ridiculous!

Before I came to Boston, I had lived in China and all over the U.S. During those years, I was excited about each move and to explore new places; fear never crossed my mind. Now, I understand how other people felt when they made comments like, “You have so much courage to move to a new country.”

I wonder, “Why was I so ‘fearless’ before? How do I get back my courage?”

I thought back to the difference between when I was ‘young’ and now, and I noticed how my focus had shifted. When I was young, moving was exciting and my mind was focused on a new life in a new place. I wasn’t worried about the future because I believed I would figure out my way. Also, the need to move was initiated by external motives, such as going to school or changing jobs, it was a “no brainer” because the move was necessary and I didn’t have to initiate the decision process. The external motives took away the biggest hurdle, the fear.

As life goes on, when moving is not “required” by external circumstances, I have to take the initiative to make the change. That’s when I found myself spending more time worrying about losing what I have in my current comfortable life. That’s what was holding me back. To step out of my comfort zone, I have to look forward into the future and follow my heart. Just as many have said before, what people regret most in life is what they could have done but did not.

Maybe you have wanted to change your job or career track for a long time? Maybe you have always wanted to start your own business? We often see people finally make such changes when the job was eliminated or the industry was outdated; but, why only make such changes when you’re being “forced” to by external motives?

What are some changes you have wanted to make but haven’t yet? It’s hard to take the initiative, but when you look back, you will be happy that you tried.