I used to live in San Francisco, and while there, I made a very nice life for myself. But after 13 years, I began to feel a pull, an urge, a desire to move across the country to New York City. Several of my friends had relocated there, and my family, after years of being scattered all over the country, had settled in upstate New York. I missed them all and wanted to see them more than once a year.
My decision-making process, as is my way, was drawn out, thoughtful, yet very difficult. Uprooting myself from a city that I loved and would always refer to as my first adult hometown was daunting enough, but moving to New York — that was a terrifying proposition. Known as a chew ‘em up and spit ‘em out kind of town, my decision was fraught with fear and panic. “How will I ever find a job,” “Apartments are so expensive, where would I live?” “Why leave a place where I was so settled, so comfortable, and really loved to head off into the unknown?”
For a period of time, I was paralyzed by fear. My inner voice was saying, “You’ll never be able to handle the pressure, the frenetic energy, the sheer magnitude of living in this massive city. You WILL fail!” And with that kernel of uncertainty, I began to pull away from my dream and doubted my ability to succeed.
Fortunately, I gave myself five months to make a decision, and that time was spent soul-searching, seeking advice, and doing my research. I set a deadline — my 35th birthday. On that date, I would decide my fate. So I wouldn’t be influenced by proximity, I chose a “neutral” place away from San Francisco — Santa Barbara — one of the most beautiful areas in California. While floating in the sea, looking up at the beautiful, eucalyptus tree-laden hills, and enjoying the California-lifestyle, I asked myself one question: “Where do I want to live?” In two seconds flat, I shouted, “New York!”
Though I was terrified, I was exhilarated. I was not going to let fear sway me and keep me living a life of default. As the days passed, emboldened by my decision, I chose to, not only move, but also sell most of my possessions and go without a job, without an apartment --nothing -- and let fate lead the way.
Thankfully, the Universe was kind and everything fell into place almost immediately. Twenty years later, I find myself in another transitional period and I need to face my fear again and make some very significant decisions.
So, as much as this post is for you, it is also for me.
Facing and Befriending Your Fear
One thing that can often get in the way of moving forward toward our dream is fear. For many of us, our life can sometimes reflect our fears rather than our dreams and aspirations. Fear is a powerful force that can impact even the most confident person in the room. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of missing out, fear that we’re just not good enough. Fear is present in all of our lives. If we let it, it will keep us in a life of default and stasis rather than a life that we really want to live.
Many of us start out with good intentions. We have an idea, a goal, a dream of the life that we want to live. But the minute we reach our “invisible boundary,” the land of the unknown, we retreat back to our comfort zone. Over time, we begin to desensitize ourselves from feeling the fear associated with our goals by continually exposing ourselves to that very fear. Eventually, that fear becomes apathy.
On the Mission website blog, Benjamin Handy wrote this about fear and apathy.
“Viktor Frankl discusses this concept in Man’s Search for Meaning when he tells of sleeping comfortably on small beds next to nine other people in the concentration camps. Said Frankl, ‘Yes, a man can get used to anything but do not ask us how.’ According to Frankl, the shock and horror of the concentration camps quickly became an apathy. The apathy eventually became humor and ridiculousness.
Sadly, rather than confronting and diminishing their fears in order to live their values and dreams, most people diminish their values and dreams — becoming apathetic to mediocrity.”
My mentor, Mary Morrissey, taught me that if we are ever going to be successful, we will always be doing so with a certain amount of fear. Fear is simply feedback letting us know we are at the edge of the life we’ve known — our invisible boundary. Fear doesn’t mean we can’t, it simply means we haven’t.
Our dream, by definition, will call us to step outside of the life we’ve known; to step outside of our current paradigm, to step outside of our comfort zone. The trick is to befriend your fear and use its power to push you further than you could ever imagine. Anyone who is successful has learned to embrace their fear.
Tony Robbins wrote: “In your mind, if you have no choice but to succeed — if achieving your goal is an absolute must — then nothing else matters. Sacrifices won’t even be a question. Excuses go out the window. You’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. Period."
He continues, “This is how some of the most successful people leverage fear in their lives. Rather than allowing fear to creep in and suck the life right out of their dreams, they know that the real fear is the price they will pay if they don’t give their goals and visions every ounce of energy and focus they have. They know the real fear is living a life where they have settled or compromised on what they really wanted.”
So, if we decide to step into our greatness, fear will be a constant companion. We just need to make sure we have it, rather than it having us. In order to have our dream, we must be willing to get uncomfortable. Someone once told me, “Our level of success is directly proportional to our ability to tolerate discomfort; our ability to befriend fear.”
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” Being successful means taking risks, and risks are inherently scary. Rather than letting fear stop you from taking action, use it as a signal that it’s time to actually take action.
It may sound trite, but there’s real truth in the saying,
Feel the fear, then do it anyway.
Cooking for Joan
On Monday, I had a very busy day and when I got home, I was beat. But I was also starving. Not wanting to go back out, I rummaged through my pantry and fridge looking for something to make. I had chicken, I had leftover rice, I had carrots, peas…
Immediately, I thought: chicken fried rice. Since I cook a lot of Asian dishes, I had all of the spices and sauces that I needed. It was easy, it was fast, and it was delicious. Today, I brought the leftovers for lunch. While I was eating, I thought: this tastes as good as takeout! Now that I think about it, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad…you be the judge.
Spicy Chicken Fried Rice
Prep Time: 5 min | Cook Time: 10 min | Makes: 4 | Difficulty: Easy
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. butter, divided
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
- 4 cups cooked and chilled rice (I prefer short-grain white rice)
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 3-4 Tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
- 2 tsp. oyster sauce (optional)
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 2 Tablespoons sriracha, or more/less to taste
- 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil, or more to taste
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter and oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until hot
Add egg, and cook until scrambled, stirring occasionally
Remove egg, and transfer to a separate plate
Scrape down and rinse the pan, if needed
Return pan to heat
Add an additional 1 tablespoon butter and oil to the pan and heat until melted
Add carrots, onion, peas and garlic, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper
Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onion and carrots are soft
Increase heat to high, add in the remaining 1 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 tablespoon of oil, and stir until melted
Add the rice, green onions, soy sauce and oyster sauce (if using), and stir until combined
Stir for an additional 3 minutes to fry the rice
Add in the chicken and eggs, and stir to combine
Add the sesame oil and sriracha, and stir to combine
Remove from heat