Fear Of Letting Go

By Fatmanur Erdogan, Hürriyet Daily News

Last week, we discussed the fear of failure, and how to keep it under control so it doesn’t stop your entrepreneurial dreams in their tracks. In today’s installment of the Neophyte Entrepreneur, we will talk about letting go of your past, no matter how successful, so you can move on and make those dreams come true.

When you lean back in your chair at work, you reminisce about all the great successes you’ve had in the past, and feelings of peace and pride wash over you.  A little smile grows on your face as you think to yourself, “I am so damn good at what I do.”  Reliving the hard-won glories of your past massages your ego and drives your self-confidence through the roof.  You are proud of yourself, and you have every right to be.

But as great as your career has been, you want to move on.  Ten years from now, you don’t want to be doing the same thing.  You want to flex some different muscles.  You’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, and you can’t ignore it.  You imagine the freedom of being your own boss, of setting your own schedule, and of exploring new opportunities without having to get a committee’s approval first.  You wonder if the same things that made you successful in the past will carry over into your new career, too.  You feel confident they will, and you eagerly await the opportunity to put them to the test.

You need to be careful, though, because finding self-confidence in your past achievements is a double-edged sword.  It can actually hold you back.  You see, when you are looking back at the past, you aren’t living in the moment.  And when you aren’t living in the moment, you can’t move on to the future.

There’s a well-known story of a monkey who reaches into a tree and grabs on to a tasty nugget of food.  But when he tries to pull his prize out of the tree, his fist is too big.  He can’t pull it out.  So he has to choose between letting go of the prize and being free, or holding onto the prize and staying stuck to the tree forever.  Sometimes being free means having to let go of the prizes you already hold.

How can you make sure you don’t hold onto past prizes so firmly they keep you tied to the past?   How can you let go and embrace the future?  One way is to start getting rid of comforting but repetitive social habits.  We often spend most of our time with the same group of people.  Yes, building close friendships with people you have known for a long time is really important, it’s a key to long-term happiness in life.  But there are times when you need to explore new things and meet new kinds of people.  This is one of those times.  Seek out the people who already embody the kind of life you want to create for yourself.  Mingle with them.  Learn how to think and see the world like they do.

Start attending events and conferences that are unrelated to your past profession, but that will help you in your future venture.  For example, if in the past you have been a brilliant finance manager, but your new venture will require more marketing knowledge, attend a marketing conference.  You might feel funny at first, as if you have nothing in common with the people you meet there.  But in your future life, you will spend as much time marketing as financing, and attending these conferences will help you later, when you need to be comfortable putting on a marketing hat.

Rest assured that none of these activities mean your past is no longer relevant. On the contrary, your past has prepared you for the future.  However, when you make a concentrated effort to periodically let go of it, you take a small step away from the person you were, and towards the person you will become.

Next week we’ll wrap up the Neophyte Entrepreneur mini-series, where we’ve been discussing the transition from the corporate life to the entrepreneurial.  We’ve spent the past three weeks talking about the specific fears professionals encounter during the transition.  Next week, we will wrap up the series by planning the launch of your new life, including the single most important aspect, taking action.

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