Testdrive Your Dreamjob in Italy (5) By Peter de Kuster with Falco Valkenburg Overcoming Your Fears. Il Postino This travel guide of Italy will tell you how to make a Testdrive in Your Dream Job. When Il Postino meets a poet who makes his money doing what he loves he thinks like ‘that’s great but how do I make this happen for me?”
What he needs more than anything is help getting past his fear. He needed someone to tell him that; 1. Going after his dream job didn’t require the daredevil leap that he thought it did; 2. What it did require was a series of small, incremental steps; and 3. Those steps could be fun rather than scary You are probably skeptical. The idea of giving up the security of a “real” job – with a real paycheck and real benefits – is pretty scary no matter how you cut it, and imagining even the most exciting dream job doesn’t do much to mitigate that fear. The only way to do that is to address those fears head – on. So let’s do that right now – because the sooner you get mobilized, step by incremental step, the sooner you’ll make that dream job real. We talked to many people who gave up “security” to start their dream jobs, and discovered that most people had a similar experience. They spent years thinking about making the switch before finally taking action. Like Il Postino, they had found their fear insurmountable. They had a million reasons for not doing it: kids in school, mortgages and tuitions to pay, an impending promotion, not the right time… Every reason
The Poet and mentor of Il Postino was completely legitimate, but somehow, at a certain point, those reasons ceased to matter. Sometimes the reasons actually went away (the kids graduated, the mortgage got paid off), but just as often the underlying situations didn’t change. What changed was something inside the people. They had crossed a line. They had moved from a place where they were making rational arguments for not pursuing their dream to making an emotional choice to do so. And once that line was crossed, there was no turning back. So what gets us to that line? If you, too, are wishing for your dream job but are immobilized with fear; how can you get to that line yourself? Let’s take a moment to look at your nemesis, fear. When it comes to fear, we are little better than rats. Brain research shows that we are wired to instant gratification over long – term gain. Much as we want our dream jobs, our brain’s circuitry pushes us to stay with the secure jobs and situations we already have. In other words, now we want our
steady paycheck and benefits; in the future we’ll risk pursuing the job of our dreams. And as if our own physiology weren’t obstacle enough, there are plenty of other factors that encourage us to stay where we are. Money, family, loss of identity, fear of exposing the “real you”, the “fraud factor” (that voice in our heads that says “you mean you really think you can succeed at that”?) are all steely – gripped forces that work to keep us where we are. But they don’t always keep us where we are. Despite the fact that everyone faces those hurdles, some people manage to surmount them and move forward toward their dreams. People with nothing in the bank quit their jobs and open successful businesses. Sole earners with families to support move cross country to work at starting wages to their career of choice. People who have spent years building respect and credentials in their profession leave it all and go back to square one in another. And people who are terrified to expose the dream they’ve sheltered inside for decades manage to give up the career that was “expected” and take up a very different kind of work they love. How do they do it?
What enables them to put aside their fear and take the risk? Behavioral economists, who look at how people make choices are well aware of the fact that we tend to choose the thing that feels most desirable in the present, and postpone a harder or riskier choice until the future. Fortunately, they’ve also noted ways that people work around that. One solution is to precommit , that is, to take an action that requires you to make that more difficult choice now. Precommitment is also an excellent strategy for circumventing fear. Book directly a Testdrive Your Dream Job before you can talk yourself out of it. A precommitment to something that feels scary. That way, when the time comes, when your brain’s limbic system urges you to put off the Testdrive your Dream Job, you would no longer have the option.
Throughout the dream job process there are many ways you can precommit to circumvent your fear: schedule a Testdrive your Dream Job three months in the future because that far away it won’t seem so scary: register now even though it won’t start until the fall (same reason); commit to a bank loan or a lease or a business partner even if those actions scare you silly. Don’t commit if on every level you question the decision but do commit if in your heart you know your course is right and I’t only fear that is making you hesitate. Often when we describe the process of dream job seeking, people will say “Well, I couldn’t do that because I’m not the right kind of entrepreneurial person” as if there were a certain personality type that is capable of making the switch. We know what they mean. They have the idea that the type of person who can successfully pursue a dream job is someone who is exceptionally gutsy (or perhaps foolhardy); is very decisive and assertive; has a high tolerance for risk and ambiguity; and has a history of creating opportunities and trying new things.
We suppose if we hadn’t seen so many different types of people successfully create their dream jobs, we would assume the same thing, but we’ve known many heroes and heroines in the past and present to know that isn’t so. People who create their dream job seem to come in all personality configurations; some are so assertive that they resemble bulldogs, while others seem very timid. Some have a history of starting new ventures and others have worked entire careers in the same job. Some rattle off decisions with heroic force; others deliberate until the last possible moment – and then change their minds! Whatever you imagine the right personality type to be, we are sure we can find you a successful hero and heroine who turns your stereotype on its head. But that’s not to say that successful dream job seekers don’t have anything in common. They do. The more people we talk to, the more we see certain stories that most of them share. Regardless of their proclivity toward risk or their life of assertiveness they have similar stories about life and themselves that make it easier for them to proceed. 1. A Clear Story. Successful heroes and heroines in a dream job have a clear story of what they want to do. It may be a particular job, it may be a
life style and a location. Though the level of specificity varies for every person; they share a clear mental story of themselves doing that work. The clarity of their story acts like a magnet pulling them forward. When they meet obstacles along the way that magnetic story tallies them and keeps them moving toward it. 2. Optimism . In addition to having a clear story, successful heroes and heroines believe that their story will pan out. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it! Some have a general confidence in their own abilities based on a history of success; others believe that this particular venture is primed to success. They know that failure is possible (and occasionally can ‘t stop that fear from creeping in) but most of the time they anticipate success as if that were the far more likely option. 3. Comfort with failure. When they do consider failure they don’t become terrified. Their story is “What’s the worse that can happen? Whatever it is, we’ll deal with it”. They imagine a period of difficulty and adjustment after the failure, and then life moving forward positively once again.
3. Heroism. Over and over, in different words successful heroes and heroines express the same story. I would rather try and fail than know I didn’t try.”. “I would be so disappointed in myself later if I hadn’t given it a try”. It is a recurring story: what pushes them past the fear is the knowledge that by not trying they will be letting themselves down. Not everyone who makes the switch has every one of these stories, but the people who successfully undertake dream careers seem to have most of them. Together, these stories make a legendary package that seems to make it easier for people to move out of their comfort zone and try something new. But even these attributes don’t fully explain why some people switch and others don’t. Something is still missing from the equation. And that missing something, I believe, is questing. People who make the switch have reached a point in their lives at which they simply have no choice. The call for a quest is reached. It is no longer a matter of wanting to make a change. They have to.
Eventually the pain of not acting outweighs our fear of making a change. It simply becomes too uncomfortable to stay. That is the point at which we accept the risk of change. And that is a magic moment – because the moment we cross that line, things that previously felt like insurmountable fears begin to look more like manageable hurdles. Now, on your way to work you find yourself dreaming up ways to overcome them. Instead of wishing there were a way that you could move forward with the dream, you find yourself thinking about how you’re going to do it. Instead of imagining some vague, open – ended timeline you start fixing your actions to concrete dates when you know you will be able to act. An enormous internal shift has taken place, and now even major fears as money, family, identity; and exposing the ‘real you’ begin to lose their insurmountable quality. As if a Jaguar has begun rolling inside you, from that moment on, you steadily gather momentum.