Betsy and I are currently on a complete digital sabbatical while we walk the 509km (300 miles) of the Lycian Way. While we push ourselves physically, we’ve invited some inspirational guests to share their wisdom and actions to add more freedom to your life. In this guest post Gigi Griffis shares how she overcame her fear to allow more freedom into her life. She also provides 6 proven actions you can take to live life on your terms.
In 2011, I started planning for a life of full-time travel.
I told my landlord that I wouldn’t be renewing my lease next year. I started selling and giving away my things. And I sketched out my itinerary:
I would spend a month in Lake Tahoe, a month in Portland, a month in Seattle, and a month in Vancouver. And if that all went well, perhaps I’d keep traveling.
Sounds like a fun and beautiful plan, right?
Sure. Except it wasn’t what I really wanted.
Secretly, I wanted more. I wanted to spend that summer in Europe. I wanted the whole world to be open to me…not just North America.
But I was afraid.
Would going more than a couple time zones away make my clients nervous? What if I didn’t like it—being on my own, on the road? What if my nay-sayers were right and I lost all my clients and had to start over from scratch?
And so I was planning for a less frightening version of my dream. One that still involved travel and change, but only took me a few steps outside my comfort zone.
Which is why it’s a really good thing that my fabulous therapist stepped in.
She listened to my plans, recognized that I was holding back, and dared me to dream bigger.
“If you weren’t worried about your business, about money, about distance…if you took fear out of the equation, what would you do?” She asked.
My answer surprised even me.
My heart leapt in my chest and without hesitation I answered, “I’d go to Europe.”
Only an hour later, I started making new plans.
It would be riskier and scarier to leave it all behind on a one-way ticket to Europe, but it was also what I wanted…so why was I settling for Plan B before I’d even attempted Plan A?
This is why in May 2012 I boarded a plane for Europe with no return date in mind.
I didn’t lose my clients. I discovered that the time change was actually to my advantage. And I became just a little braver.
I learned to trust myself—to trust that I could make my wildest dreams come true, that I was capable of changing my life forever, and that I could face my biggest fears head on and come out a braver, more confident, dream-living person.
Since that time, I’ve had to make a number of big, life-changing decisions. And every time I have to pause and remind myself to not settle for Plan B, to face my fears, and to make decisions based on reality, self-trust, and what my heart really wants.
Because it’s so easy to compromise before you even begin, to start with Plan B instead of Plan A.
And in case you’re struggling with your own set of fears and compromises, here’s how I face those fears that inevitably come with every new big dream:
Tell Fear to Take a Hike
1. Admit what you really want.
You don’t have to tell the world. You don’t have to go public yet. But in the quiet moments alone or with someone you really trust, speak your big dream out loud. Giving it words, naming it, makes it much more real. Which is probably why it’s scary—and definitely why you need to do it.
So, pause for a moment and admit it to yourself: What is it that you really want—if there were no obstacles, if you weren’t afraid to fail?
2. Identify your fears.
Why are you afraid to go after your big dream? Is it a fear of failure? A fear of physical, mental, or spiritual danger? Are any of those fears legitimate…and, if so, are they fixable?
Fear can be useful. It encourages us to be cautious. It reminds us to plan well, to save money, to take care of ourselves.
But it’s not a reason to not go after our biggest, boldest dreams. It’s not an excuse to compromise before we try.
3. Address your fears.
If I’ve learned anything in the last year it’s that ignoring fear doesn’t help fight it.
Instead, when you find yourself worrying about money or clients or whatever else, remind yourself of the precautions you’ve put in place. Calmly address your fear as if it were a concerned friend.
If your inner voice says: “I might lose my clients!,” you say “Yes, but I have enough financial buffer to last X months without them and I have a plan in place to get new ones. Thank you for your concern, but we’re really going to be fine.”
(And don’t forget that you probably won’t lose as much as you think.)
4. Announce your intentions.
It can be hard to tell people about your biggest, boldest dreams. But it’s so important. When you give voice to your dreams, they become real. And if you give people the chance, sometimes they’ll surprise you with the depth of their understanding, support, and love.
In fact, after that fated day in my therapist’s office, when I decided I was going to Europe, I knew I needed to tell someone. I chose my friend Holly, calling her the moment I left the office and telling her what I was going to do.
Because I called Holly in that moment, I discovered that she (a flight attendant at a major airline) had the ability to add one person to her flight benefits per year. This person would get access to incredibly cheap plane tickets, no change-fees, and no last-minute booking charges.
In her joy over my news, she asked if I would like that person to be me.
And, thus, the first year of my travels became even more doable and even more affordable. The door of possibility opened just a little wider simply because I gave voice to my intentions.
And, even more importantly, I found the joy and support that my nervous heart needed in order to realize that this really was going to work. It really all would be okay.
5. Trust yourself.
Remember, you are smart and capable. You can do this.
It might feel silly, but I want you to go to the mirror, look yourself in the eye, and tell yourself that you can do it. That you believe in yourself. That even if there are setbacks or obstacles along the way, you will still believe in yourself.
The things we say to ourselves are powerful. And they only get more powerful when you say them out loud.
6. Keep moving forward—one step at a time.
Every person who has ever accomplished anything did it bit by bit. There’s no quick fix. There’s no get-rich-quick scheme. Instead, you’ll find the road to your dream is full of small steps, bite-sized pieces.
And if you keep taking those small steps, biting off the little pieces? Before you even realize it, you’ll be standing right in front of your dream.
So close you can touch it.
Author Bio: Gigi Griffis is a writer and humorist with a penchant for snuggly puppies, new places, and Italian cooking. In May 2012, she sold her stuff and took to the road with a growing business and a pint-sized pooch. You can read all about her adventures on her travel blog and she’d love to be friends on Facebook.