The following article is from Melanie, our new staff writer. Melanie is in the beginning phase of her journey to Financial Freedom and she’ll bring a refreshing point of view for us.
When it comes to living life and making money, I often think of myself as a hustler and willing to do whatever it takes to make an extra buck. After all, I do have massive student loans that I am currently working hard to pay off.
In my quest to be adventurous and hustle my way into financial freedom, I find myself pushing my boundaries and getting out of my comfort zone. I will apply for opportunities that I think I won’t get or appear to be out of my reach. I will do things that scare me. I will work crazy gigs just for the experience and of course the extra cash.
Recently, I worked at an indescribable, you-really-had-to-be-there art installation. There were marching bands in silver latex clothing, miniature golf, and zombies, yes zombies! In addition to my full-time job, I was working on the weekends until 3 a.m. doing a variety of tasks at this event. It was fun, unique, and a good time.
As I continue to search for the Next Gig, I realize that I have some mental barriers to overcome, even now. These mental barriers are holding me back from reaching my full potential. Not only that, but they are preventing me from reaching my full income potential.
This reminds me of my mom, who for a very long time made an average salary, but catapulted her way into a higher income bracket simply by overcoming fear. For her that fear was driving on the freeway. I grew up in Los Angeles, where she currently lives — LA is ripe with opportunities but covers a vast territory. It’s a driving culture at its very core. You are practically required to have a car if you live in Los Angeles. My mom had an irrational fear of driving the freeways so she always chose jobs close to home; always took surface streets and almost always avoided driving on the freeway. In 1999, she interviewed for a job that was an hour away — and there was simply no way to take side streets the whole way there. She pushed through her fear and made it happen. She eventually got the job and more than doubled her salary over the next few years. When she realized she was going to do that drive every day, she started to practice and get comfortable with the idea. To think she could have left so much money on the table just because of an irrational fear.
Fear of Failure
For me, my mental barrier is fear of failure. If I don’t understand something in the first fifteen minutes, I think that it is too hard and that it’s just “not for me.” For years I didn’t apply for jobs because of certain technical requirements. I was hesitant to start a blog because I had no clue how to manage a website. As irrational as it is, my mind just shut down if I didn’t understand something. I wanted to move on and not even try.
I was like this until last year when applied for a job that I was perfect for, except I didn’t have knowledge of or experience using the design software required for the job. I was about to employ my typical avoidance mechanism and just give up and not apply. But then I thought, well, why not? What’s the worst that could happen? Considering the job posting said the technical software knowledge was required, I thought it was a long shot. Lo and behold, I ended up getting the job. In the interview I was very transparent about my current skill set and acknowledged that while I didn’t have experience using the software required – I was passionate and demonstrated that I was more than ready to learn. Of course once hired, I had to prove myself and learn quickly. My employer was very open with me as well as patient, and thought that it was much better to teach skills, over character.
After this experience, I really started to think about how many missed opportunities I’ve had in my life because of fear. How much has this fear cost me?
I kick myself for all the income I could have made, but I’m determined to do better. I now recognize when I’m falling back into a pattern. Everyone has some form of insecurity and manifestation of fear — rational or not — that holds us back.
The next time you are self-sabotaging a good opportunity, think about the worst thing that could happen. Oftentimes, the worst thing that could happen isn’t that serious and likely won’t happen. Instead of focusing on fear, focus on what you could be missing if you didn’t pursue this opportunity. Would you miss out on a significant amount of income? Friendships? Travel? Whatever the case may be, fear is powerful, but it’s often irrational.
For me, keeping things in perspective is key. I try to look at the scenario from a variety of different aspects and try to push myself through it. There is something absolutely exhilarating from pushing your boundaries out of complacency and into new territory — and instead of missing out on opportunities, you’ll be getting stronger with every chance you take.
It just requires practice and patience. Neither of those things are my strong suit either! But in my quest to live a debt-free, meaningful, and adventurous life, it means facing my fears and breaking up with that one thing that is holding me back.