What’s your relationship with change? Do you love the thrill of the new, the challenge of doing things differently? Or are you wedded to the familiar; the comfort of doing things the way you know works best?
We’re in the process of some big life changes, and it’s throwing up some hard truths that I’ve managed to keep under wraps for some time. I’m realizing that while I like the idea of change, the reality of making it actually happen is far less fun. Why? Because it involves being with some uncomfortable choices and spending an awful lot of time with the demon self-doubt.
Coach Sas Petherick is an expert on self-doubt, and her new coaching programme digs deep in to the different self-doubt archetypes which make up the way we think about ourselves. What’s fascinating about self-doubt is the myriad of ways it shows up and impacts on us. For many, self-doubt leads to procrastination – either rooted in a fear of failure or the equally pernicious fear of success.
Perfectionists will be familiar with fear of failure – that sick to the stomach feeling that pushes you to work through the night, to get up in the dark for that early morning training run. When managed correctly, fear of failure is a powerful call to action which enables us to fully inhabit new challenges. However, when left unchecked, fear of failure can become paralyzing. The avoidance of failure inevitably leads to a narrowing of options, until it makes more sense to do nothing at all rather than to risk making space for a ‘less than perfect’ version of our lives.
Fear of success can be equally paralyzing. This is often accompanied by a powerful inner critic telling us that we’re not worthy of our goals; that pursuing them is detrimental to others; that succeeding in them will lead to increased pressure to maintain a certain level of success. Prof Greg Whyte, coach and trainer on the Sports Relief challenges, writes about the importance of addressing fear of success when training for major physical challenges in this article, and the learning is relevant to any area of life that we are looking to change
Being caught in between fear of success and fear of failure, it’s easier to see why many of us choose to steer clear of change. But there’s no room for growth in the comfortable middle zone. Resilience, confidence and learning don’t come from sticking with what you know. Uncomfortable though it may be, change really does matter after all.