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Thursday, December 9, 2010

My fears - 4 months later

Four months ago, I posted my fears for all to see in the hopes of shrinking them down to size. Another benefit to posting them out there was it gave me something tangible to go off and work on. I'm happy to say 4 months later, although I haven't eliminated all of those fears, I've gotten a handle on them and feel really empowered to go after what I want. Here's an update to each:

Former Fear #1: My dad will be pissed/scared/hurt

One of the recent "thought experiments" I've done is to imagine I'm 90 years old and telling stories to people. When I say "60 years ago, when I was in my 30's, I..."  there were two ways to complete that sentence. 1. I quit my job and went and got my MBA in real life. I (totally succeeded/totally bombed) and learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Or 2. I stayed in a well paying job where they didn't really use my skills and hung out for 30 years because I was afraid my dad (your great great grandpa) would be pissed/scared/hurt. Suddenly, it was clear what life was all about. My dad would get over it.

It was also very helpful that my younger sister and I are our biggest supporters. My sister, who lives near my parents, told me recently that she started working on my dad for me. She told me the whole line of questioning she used, starting with something like "Don't you want him to be happy? He's not happy where he is... he'll be fine, he's smart and resourceful." She's paying me back for our entire childhood where I paved the way for her (including the time she asked a girl to the Homecoming Dance for me, so when she got to high school our parents would let her go). She basically is saying "do what you need, I'll take care of dad."

Former Fear #2: I'll fail miserably and hafta take a job that's much worse than the job I left

In a corporation, they grade on a curve, so to speak. 6% of the organization has to be rated "below expectations." I joined this 6% club, mainly because my organization doesn't value entreprenurial type people. One of the reasons was I didn't use our standard tools for my non-standard projects. Doesn't that actually sound like a reason to promote someone? So I ask myself this question: Why do I need to take this?

I also put together another thought. If I quit and go get a "real life MBA" so to speak, doesn't that make me more attractive to the type of company I'd like to work at, should I decide to go back to a company? I also went out and talked to all my friends who own businesses to see if there were things I could offer them. One particular friend was very interested. So I'm covered, I won't crash and burn right away at least.

Former Fear #3: I just don't have the drive to do what it takes.

This trait of mine still rears its ugly head. I've done a lot of work trying to figure out why I'm like this and what would get me out of it. I recently read The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, and it talks about first borns (which I am) and how they're perfectionists. I'm far from a perfectionist, but I read on anyway. Then it got to a part where it talked about another type of perfectionist: a frustrated perfectionist. This person is a perfectionist at heart, but is so afraid of criticism he gives up and doesn't finish things. This point hit home so much. I'm still working through this, and even looking to see if I can get some coaching.

I tried to work through this issue over the last 2-3 months by doing the 5 hours a week = iPhone 4 method. I tracked my work and booked hours, and I was able to do 5 hours a week for 2 months. After that, I upped it to 6 hours a week for a couple more weeks. This way I didn't have time to think about making something perfect, just book the hours. However, the last 3 weeks I haven't done any work on my projects. Blogging tonight is an attempt to get back on track. I think the issue is my project was to the point where I was close to involving other people; and that's when the fear of imperfection and criticism kicks in.

Former Fear #4: I'll never find a mate.

One thing I've started doing was to work on meeting people outside of work. Interestingly, Adam McFarland just put up a great post entitled Maintaining a social life after leaving the corporate world. I'm not necessarily doing it to find a mate, but more to prove to myself that a social life exists outside of the company. I've joined a minority young professional group (while I can still call myself a "young" professional) and met some great people there. And yes, I've also met a couple of people that interested me that didn't work for my company.

So things have gotten pretty clear to me. I'm taking the holidays to reflect on my next step, but my biggest fears have been brought under control.


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