By Angela Copeland
As we approach the New Year, there’s a lot of talk about setting goals. They may be related to career, family, fitness or other personal pursuits. It’s interesting to think about which goals will be achieved and which will eventually be shelved.
Is success always related to the particular goal – or to the person achieving it? And what sets the achievers apart from everyone else?
My belief is that almost always, the achievers possess something a little different than others. It’s not a MBA, money or good looks (although those don’t hurt). In fact, it’s cheaper and easier to come by.
The characteristic that sets them apart is they are able to live their lives without fear. It’s not that they don’t have concerns. It’s not that failure doesn’t cross their minds, or that they don’t worry. But, they are able to try new things without letting their fears stop them.
On a number of occasions, I’ve witnessed people who never finished college land a professional-level job faster than their degreed peers. On paper they may have appeared to be less qualified but in reality they had a lot to offer and they were willing to put themselves out there. I’m certain that in some of these situations, the fact that they had little to lose and everything to gain came into play.
But, I suspect this ability to let go of fear isn’t a one-time occurrence. It’s not something the person is able to do for just the most important things – or in the moment when everything is on the line. It’s the way they live their life every day. They’ve turned living without fear into a habit they practice every day. So when it does count, they’re ready.
Thomas Edison once said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” For all of his inventions, he must have failed on an everyday basis to lead him to the innovations that still influence the way we live today. Yet, he still kept going.
In 2004, I quit my corporate job and moved cross country for graduate school. Not only did I not know anyone in Los Angeles, but I paid for my own education and living expenses for the time I was there. Looking back, I often wonder how I was able to conquer that kind of fear and whether or not I could do it again today.
In the end, I often ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and, if I can’t come up with anything other than embarrassment or a little lost time, I try. Worst-case scenario, even when I fail, I learn something new. And that new thing helps me to either try again successfully or to set another goal to try – without fear.
I hope your New Year is filled with new goals, new experiences, and a little learning along the way.
Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.