Writer | Marketer | Creative

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Why Is the Next Step Always So Terrifying?


I've been wrestling with this concept. We all deal with it at varying points in our lives, but does anyone know the right way to handle it? Is there a right way to work through this?

At some point in the journey - towards success, happiness, opportunity, anything - there are parts where we have to intentionally take a next step. It won't just happen if we continue on doing whatever we've been doing. It won't come to us. At some point, we all have to make a firm decision to break from our routine - from our comfort zone, what we know - and step through that veil into the unknown, into what we hope will take us closer to where we want to be.

But what happens is this. We look at that veil for far too long, and start to over-analyze the possibilities of what's beyond. We don't mind taking risks if the options are either gain or nothing changes. The next step, however, always comes with the risk that we could be worse off than we currently are. That is utterly terrifying!

For most of us, I'd wager, we're in an okay spot. We want to be in a better spot, that's for sure, but we're okay with where we've made it for the time being. What would be dismal for us would be having to go back a step, or even several. That's a life altering decision no matter how you spin it!

We're comfortable in what we know, and we're usually terrified of what we don't know. That's reasonable. Despite all reasonable excuses, we still know we have to take that next step. We know we have to break from what we've been doing to get to where we know we need to go. But we psyche ourselves out!

I told you I've been wrestling with this concept. At the beginning of 2016, I made it my goal to create the option for myself to be able to work solely by myself (freelance, monetized personal brand, etc.), and be able to support our small family through it by 2017. It's June, and this goal is becoming a very real possibility, maybe even sooner than I'd planned. I'm excited about that! I'm really scared.

I feel that I've been doing well, growing steadily over the last six months, hitting milestones, etc. But for all intents and purposes I'm still a novice. I've gotten rather good at creating business content (that is where my paycheck comes from after all), but I'm a complete beginner at running this kind of a business. The unknown here seriously frightens me.

I'm currently at a point where it could make sense to take that giant leap into self-employment. I'm not in a position where I could take that next step and be comfortable, or even be sure to earn a sustainable living. But it might be one of those things where I have to spend 60 and 70 hour weeks focused on just that before I could find stability.

I don't know. That's the thing: I don't know. Like many, when I'm unsure of which action to take, I do nothing. Uncertainty leads to inaction. Inaction might be the worst possible option!

In most situations, when you finally take the next step, even if you get burned, you feel peace. You probably won't feel that in the moment while you're freaking out about the transition. But once you settle into your new routine, you'll feel peace.

You take on your fear head-to-head. Nothing is holding you back! You're doing everything you can, trying all the options to achieve your next goal. Even if you ultimately fail or decide to do something different again, that's an amazing triumph! You were terrified of the next step, yet you did it anyway, because you knew that's what you needed to do to go where you know you needed to go.

Taking the next step is such a terrifying thing, because there's so much uncertainty surrounding it. What if you fail, despite how hard you tried? What if that next step isn't all it's cracked up to be? What if you embarrass yourself? What if you would have been better off staying put in your current situation?

If you never take that next step, if you continually over-contemplate to the point of inaction, you'll never find answers to these questions. You'll never know what your own abilities are. You'll live in constant wondering and regret. That's the most terrifying thing of all.