Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts on the Fear of Change

According to Newton's First Law of Motion, a body at rest will stay at rest and a body in motion will stay in motion. As life hurdles me through the journey, I've come to understand this Law does not just apply to mechanics. I believe it also applies to human beings on a psychological and spiritual level, which is why so often we need an outside force to get us going rather than come up with the force ourselves.

All too often, people stay in places they don't want to be. From bad marriages and unfulfilling careers to toxic friendships or habits, as humans we struggle to change ourselves. Change is difficult, even good change. Newly weds get "cold feet" just before walking down the aisle and I think we all have experienced job interview jitters, even if the interview is for our "dream job." How do we overcome these feelings? The force to change the velocity or direction of ourselves must come from within. We can't always rely on outside events to prompt life changes.

Recently, I have experienced the fear of change in a large way. I made the decision to start changing careers and actually took steps toward this change. I have to add the "taking steps" part because I have been contemplating changing careers for at least four years, and since then have done little but become addicted to the lifestyle my current career provides. In my "day job," I make a decent, middle-class wage. I have health insurance, three weeks a year of vacation and two weeks of sick time. I have a large desk, a great boss, a flexible schedule, and am surrounded by a group of fun and fascinating staff people. It's a non-profit that provides housing to low-income people, so there is a noble cause involved. Not only does my career make my life "better," it makes the lives of others better too.

Despite all this, I have a restlessness about myself I can no longer bury. It manifests in many ways: sometimes I'm bored when there is lots to do, sometimes I call in sick for no reason, and worse of all, sometimes I get snappy, angry, or spiteful towards the work itself or towards anyone in my path. Negative feelings bubble up like carbonation: pour on the workday and many of my unlikable traits fizz to the surface. These negative feelings become comments or actions which are unlikable at best. My career brings out the worst in me, and I don't like it. Yet it seems like a necessary evil to my survival.

The dislike for myself was just enough force from within to start making changes. My dream of being part of the health and fitness industry became an obsession. I once again began seeing myself training others, teaching fitness classes, and writing articles and books. When I talk about fitness with others, I get excited and am overflowing with ideas. I have been told more than once by people who do not know about my dream that I should "be a trainer." So finally a couple weeks ago, I took an important first step: I registered for the certification exam. There was barely enough force inside me to do this. As I typed my credit card number on the registration screen, my heart accelerated and my fingers trembled, presumably with fear of the uncertainty and commitment of follow-through this change will bring. However, as soon as I printed the confirmation email, the fearful heart rate turned to a joyful, excited one. My attitude soared so high one of my office mates noticed enough to say "Boy you're in a good mood today."

I still have a ton of fear to resolve. Not only do I have to pass the exam, but I have to be new to an industry and gain experience. As the transition ensues, I will have to balance that with the need to pay a mortgage and hopefully retain at least a semblance of my T'ai Chi studies and spiritual pursuits. I have to keep faith that just because I don't know what the road looks like, doesn't mean there isn't a road. And that I am in motion, I have the momentum to stay in motion.


  1. That was a wonderful little tid bit of your life as you know it. Yes, you are in motion and making changes all through out your life. From the tv stand to drapes to moving into the "other" bedroom. Painting, changing colors around you. It all fits you because you are changing. You are growing in many ways. You an intelligent, beautiful woman who is coming into a new phase of self actualization. Go girl. Be the best version of yourself. Know that I support you in all of your efforts. You rock!

  2. Change is scary. The thought of packing up and moving away to a small hick town in ND sent me into fits of anxiety. I had all these pre-concieved notions and prejudices against this small little town that I had never been to. Even though the money would have been incredible, to me it just wasn't worth it.

    I'm looking forward to the next stage in my career... whenever that may reveal itself to me.