Monday, July 29, 2013

the Amalfi Coast and Swiss bank accounts

As promised last week, this week we are asking Fateful Question #2.

What do you mean you didn't read last week? What's with that? Get thee henceforth to the archives and read it. Or you just won't understand.

In Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin writes about the five questions she asks herself “when I'm reluctant to take a risk or face something uncomfortable.” Fateful Question #2 is:

What would I do if I wasn't scared?

Of what? If I wasn't scared of cliffs, I'd drive the Amalfi Coast. (Oh, and if I had a Swiss bank account. But no matter; we're dreaming, right?)

If I wasn't scared of spiders I'd buy a tarantula and call it Fluffy and feed it and read it bedtime stories. OK, probably not, because scared or not, I still prefer pets that sit on my lap and cuddle and purr rather than stare at me with six billion eyes (give or take).

If I wasn't scared of extreme political wackos I would . . . wait. That is a perfectly justifiable fear. Never mind. Step away from those people . . . slowly.

But the question matters. What would I do if I wasn't scared? It matters because if we can pinpoint what scares us about a decision and what we would do if that fear were out of the picture, we could see clearly what we really want to do. If, barring fear of cliffs, I would drive the Amalfi Coast, then I know I really want to find a way to make that happen. I definitely would (assuming that sugar daddy bank account).

If I thought spiders were simply misunderstood cute little things with too many legs, would I feel the burning need to buy a tarantula? Only if I needed to feed a Komodo Dragon. (I have no idea if they eat tarantulas. Please do not correct me in the comments. We are being theoretical here.) So, taking fear out of the equation, I know I still do not ever want a tarantula. Ever.

These, obviously, are not big decisions. The big ones matter much more. Should I change jobs? Should I volunteer overseas? Should I write a book? What should I major in? Ask yourself—what would I do if I took fear out of the picture? Major in something I love? Get my passport? Change careers? Commit my heart and my time to a person or a cause?

Answering 'yes' doesn't mean you need to do it. This is only one of the Fateful Questions. But what it will do is help you see what you really, really want. Do you really want to go overseas? Maybe this position still isn't the answer, but at least you know the direction you'll probably turn, because you've clarified what you love.

What would I do if I wasn't scared?

I know for me, right now, the answer is write those books and articles and put them out there because, even though I'm deeply afraid of letting people see my work and my “real me,” it's what I'm called to do. Even though the thought of being “just mediocre” terrifies me, I'll press on and become the best I can. And someone, somewhere, will still think I'm just mediocre. And I've got to live with that, because I have to choose risk when it matters.

What would you do if you weren't scared?

Next week—Fateful Question #3.

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