Getting off the Fence

woman sit in park on wooden fence wearing leather boots, wool s

Are you ready to get off the fence?

Believe it or not, The Positivity Solution is almost two years old (May 20th!) And for close to two years, this is the one question that I have heard the most often from my readers:

“I really want to (insert goal here), but I’m not sure if it will work out. What do you think that I should do?”

The goal could be anything: Starting a blog, leaving an abusive relationship, training for a marathon, launching a new business, standing up to the office bully–literally, anything.

Almost always, the answer to the above question is consistently the same. In fact, since this question is such a common one, I thought that I’d answer it here in more detail in a much-needed blog post.

If you have a goal that you deeply want to achieve and you’re wondering if you should do it or not, then you’re definitely in the right place.

Today is the day where you get off of the fence.

The Only Way

Just to be clear, what you’re about to read are for the people who have a goal in their mind that they’re serious about achieving in their lifetime.

This isn’t for the tire-kickers, the big-talkers/small doers, and the people who just “kinda” want it (side note: if you’re wondering the difference between the people who “kinda” want it and really want it, read this: Do You Really Want It?)

Unfortunately, there’s not much that I can do for those people. When they’re serious about their goals, they are more than welcome to swing back and here and read this blog post–it will still be here, I promise.

But for the rest of us–if you are serious about your goal and you’re on the fence about whether you should do it or not, here’s the only thing that you need to know:

The only way to know if you can reach your goal is to take the first step.

And just so there’s no confusion, by “taking the first step,” I mean taking significant action towards your goal.

Many people aren’t too excited about this answer, but that’s all there is to it. There are no magic spells, no clever business acronyms to memorize, or no advanced college degrees that are needed. The only way to know if you have what it takes to achieve your dream is to step up and try–that’s it.

If this is so simple, how come so many people don’t do it?

Even worse, why do so many people sit on the fence of life fully content to let their hopes and dreams die a silent, pitiful death inside of them without putting in any effort?

I think that I know the answer.

The Real Failures

Unfortunately, far too many people don’t take action to improve their lives because they have a paralyzing fear of failure. 

As most of us already know, our fears are incredibly irrational and insane. And just like you wouldn’t want some crazed maniac driving your car everyday, it makes just as little sense to give your fears any power over the direction of your life.

The very real truth is that every big goal in our lives will require risk and there’s a significant chance that you could fail.

  • You could ask the cute girl in your apartment complex out for a date, and get shot down.
  • You could start a blog that no one reads or cares about, or worse, becomes the laughingstock of the internet.
  • You could start a new fitness plan that you end up hating, and then quitting.
  • You could take action to deal with the office bully and make things worse for you at the office, instead of better.

Sure, things might not work out for you, but what if they did?

  • What if the cute girl in your apartment complex ends up becoming your wife?
  • What if your blog ends up scoring you a book deal?
  • What if your fitness plan ends up being the spark that gets you into the best shape of your life?
  • What if by taking action to deal with the office bully, she becomes aware of her destructive behavior and actually starts treating you well at work from now on?

Bottom line is that you will never know unless you take action and get off the fence.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” -Wayne Gretsky”

That’s why the real failures of this world will never be the people who try and don’t succeed.

The real failures are the sad souls who allow their fear of failure to stop them from trying. 

Life will knock you down, you won’t succeed at everything, and you might even end up getting embarrassed too. That’s a part of life for everyoneyou’re not the only person dealing with those things, believe me.

If you tripped on the sidewalk, would you lie on the ground forever in fear of getting back up? Would you cower inside of your home in fear of tripping again on another sidewalk sometime in the future?

No, you wouldn’t do either of those things. 

Falling down may slow us down, but it will never have the power to stop us. Most importantly–if you let your fear of failure stop you before you try, then you’ve fallen for the worst trick of all:

You’ve allowed your fear of failure to turn you into a real failure.

Jumping Off the Fence

I’ll never forget when I was on the fence about switching careers to follow my lifelong passion, and one of mentors told me:

“Go for it. This is something that you’ve always wanted to do, and you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t try. Don’t let your fears and insecurities hold you back. Get off the fence–the world has enough people who are controlled by fear.

She was so right, the world has plenty of people controlled by fear. I know, because I used to be one of them. And as I mentioned earlier, it is a blueprint for destruction to give the steering wheel of our lives to the irrational madman known as Fear.

Thankfully, I followed her advice, jumped off the fence, and it ended up being the best professional decision that I have ever made in my life by a long shot. My life has never been the same since.

Sure, it was a risk and I could have failed miserably.

Fortunately, my fear of failure wasn’t nearly as big as my fear of living another moment under the same circumstances.

The thought of sitting in that same crappy cubicle hating every minute of my working life until I finally retired, horrified me.

Be honest with me–I’m sure that there’s a circumstance in your life right now that would horrify you if it remained unchanged until the day you die. That’s why you need to take action to do something about it.

Failure isn’t something to be feared anymore–it’s an unavoidable part of life. The key is to develop the life-changing resiliency needed to deal with failure and keep moving forward.

The Real Choice: Your Fears or Your Life

If you’re currently sitting on the fence trying to decide if you should go after your dream, think about this.

Sitting on the fence represents the decision to be controlled by your fears. Jumping off the fence, although it might be scary, represents taking the first real steps toward making your dream a reality.

If you want to be scared of something, don’t let it be failure. Instead, be very scared of dying with your hopes and dreams inside of you because you didn’t have the courage to fight for them.

Like my mentor said: The world already has enough people who are controlled by fear. If there’s something that you deeply want to have, do, or be, then you owe it to yourself to get off the fence and at least try.

And not a half-assed try, either.

If this is a goal that you’re serious about, then it’s time to prove it with your actions. Because action is the only thing on this earth that has the power to kill your fears. Your inaction, on the other hand, is what gives your fear its strength.

(Author’s note: Re-read the above paragraph until it completely sinks in, because if you fully understand it, it has the power to change your life forever.)

So, here we are back at the all-important question:

Will you successfully reach your goal? That’s a great question.

There’s only one way to find out.

Your Turn

Are you currently sitting on the fence trying to decide if you should take action toward your goal? Do you have a story of jumping off the fence and fully going after your dream? Either way, jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola

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Comments

  1. Gabriela Thuemmler says:

    Hey Shola,
    I just wanted to drop you a short message to say Thank You.
    I had a tough time, following your posts helped a lot to stay calm and relaxed to not loose hope.
    It’s absolutely true that we have to get off from the fence otherwise we are stuck and nothing will change, or we will never achieve our goals.
    Let me tell you a weird thing: You mentioned in your you post action against a bully.
    I have written a statement today and posted the message to the headquarter of the company.
    Over a period of 2 years I have been bullied and got fired for No reason.
    The letter will hit them like a bombshell I do hope they wake up and take action, however if not it was worth it to give it a try by telling the truth. We spend so much time at work nobody should be bullied it causes so much damage.
    I had already posted the letter as your newsletter hit my inbox, sounds like magic ;0)
    Thank you again
    Gabriela

    • Hi Shola & Gabriela,

      I, like Gabriela made a formal complaint of bullying and after 5 years of evidence finally had complaint upheld by an independant investigation. I expected immediate justice however over 2 years later, that justice is finally coming to me piece by piece.
      Some people had told me thru out the ordeal to leave it and walk away due to the huge amount of stress it entailed, however after the turmoil me, my family and my close friends went thru during this ordeal, I confirm whole-heartedly the best decision i made was to take action. I will never regret what i had to go thru as the outcome for me personally was liberating, gave me strengths, skills and attritubes i never knew i had, i now feel fearless to stand up to wrong-doing and appreciate my self worth and me as a person. No-one will ever make me feel worthless by their inappropiate behaviour again.

      Oh and yes, i trained hard and ran a marathon to help manage my stress so all in all, i am very proud of me!
      Never be afraid to take and follow that first step! 😉

      • Nicola, that is such an inspiring story–thanks for sharing that with us. I’m so glad that you did something about your situation, because in the face of wrongdoing, silence only helps the oppressor, never the oppressed. I honor you for finding the guts to get off the fence to do what was right, even if it wasn’t easy. And like you said, it helped you to find strengths and abilities that you didn’t know that you had–and really, that’s main point of jumping off the fence in the first place. Well done!

    • Thanks so much for the kind words Gabriela, I really appreciate it! I’m so glad that you’ve found my words to be helpful :). I’m very happy to hear that you sent a message to the headquarters of your company about the bullying that you dealt with. Like I said, it takes courage to jump off the fence, and even if it can’t erase what happened to you, at least it may have the power to stop someone else from dealing with bullying at that company in the future. Good luck and I sincerely hope that it works out!

  2. Hi Shola! this is so true! I started running two years ago, last year I made the big decision to run a marathon, a lot of people told me that it was too soon, and that I wouldn’t make it (haters) and guess what? I signed up for it! I have been busy training for my big day, in three months, August 30th, I will be running and finishing my very first Marathon! We are capable of doing great things, and of course there will be people who will tell you otherwise, but the secret is to listen to that little voice inside of you that says “We can do this, lets go!”. Next year I will sign up to swimming lessons (I don’t know how to swim hahahaha) so I can compete in my very first triathlon! who says we can’t do anything? I’m getting off that fence and join the big rodeo called life 🙂 have a wonderful day Shola! hugs to you!

    • Right on, Sofia! The naysayers and haters who tried to tell you that you couldn’t run a marathon were really saying that they don’t have what it takes to run a marathon, and they tried to put their limitations on you–I’m glad that you didn’t listen! And trust me, when you complete your marathon, the triathlon will be just another barrier that you’ll knock down like a champ (even if you can’t swim yet ;)). I believe that most of the limits that we set for ourselves are purely mental, and the biggest step toward doing the seemingly impossible is to get off the fence. Coincidentally, August 30th happens to be my youngest daughter’s 4th birthday, so I will definitely be celebrating with you on that day! Go get it, girl!

      • Wooow!! such an amazing coincidence! Congratz to your beautiful daughter!! thanks for the cheers!! 🙂

  3. Thanks, I really needed this

  4. Shola, thank you, much to think about. I’ve spent too much time on that fence already. We convince ourselves we’re sitting there making a perfect plan, or waiting for the right time, or just waiting to feel brave. All the while, we are really giving up in advance, and settling. I just came across a great jiu-jitsu quote, that seems true for life in general: “There is no losing, only winning and learning.”. It’s hard to perceive a failure as “learning”, but that’s what positivity is all about, right? Thank you Shola, for the reminder and the support.

    • I love that quote, Donna! If everyone thought of trying something new as either an opportunity to win or an opportunity to learn, what would there be to fear? There would be no need to settle, make lame excuses or quit before we even try. But it all starts with the belief, and if you have that belief, it makes taking the first step that much easier. Thanks as always, for your fabulous comment (and quote!)

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