“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.”

- Marilyn Ferguson

A brilliant quote. But it is often hard to first get past the side of fear. And your career is no exception.

Think back on how many times in your life you took a leap of faith and it surprised you. You looked back and wondered why it took you so long. Fear of change just kept you frozen in career inertia.

Staying with the familiar and routine seemingly creates less stress - on a superficial level. It’s much easier to follow routine and keep things predictable. But the underlying anxiety of knowing you’re not following your gut can far outweigh the stress associated with finally making a change in your life.

If you confront fear, you may finally allow yourself career freedom in 2015.

Another way to view the above quotation is this: You can use fear as your best ally in career advancement. Without understanding your fears, you’re at their mercy. And without taking intelligent risks, you could languish in a constant state of stagnation.

The economy has made strides in job growth this year…and that means that 2015 could be a great year for you to leap out of your comfort zone. This is an opportune time to revisit all aspects of your job: responsibilities, work environment, resources, career passions and work/life goals, so that you can make actionable changes in the New Year. T.S. Eliot said it another way, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

Neutralize Fear

Here are some steps to consider. First, try to identify your fears and why you’re holding them. Look at your past work situations to see if you’ve been replaying prior experiences and “stories” that are no longer valid, or…were never valid!

Commit to writing each of these beliefs that keep you in a state of limbo - and then provide a reality check against each one so you can review the real facts.

Now make a list of your strengths and achievements. Do these accomplishments align with your true career passions? Are you fulfilled? What is your state of mind as you get out of bed to go to work? People expend far more effort researching their next vacation than they do planning their future. But a little reflective time goes a long way.

Don’t Curb Your Enthusiasm

Design your career objectives based on what would bring you the greatest long-term happiness — without being afraid of going off-road. Think with your heart, not head. Hypothetically, is there a career you’d pursue for free if money weren’t an issue? Financial resources often follow after you pursue your real passion because you’re now wired to fully enjoy what you do; it’s not drudgery. Your enthusiasm, commitment and outlook are bright…they’re no longer in question – and it’s contagious as you network – online or offline.

So for example, don’t update your resume. Rewrite it. You may literally turn a new page.

What is Your Dream Job?

If you can envision it, you can attain it. Write out exactly what your dream job looks like: your boss, co-workers, the nature of the work, type of company, location, your desk, and any other details that help build an exciting vision. Is there a disconnect between your dream job and your current one? People leave bad bosses not jobs…so make sure you've confronted issues such as Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT) manager tendencies that you have come to accept over time.

You may ultimately envision your current position as your dream job, but may decide you have certain adjustments in mind, such as better communications with your manager or co-workers, new job responsibilities, a need for more travel as part of your vacation time, a more collaborative work style with your boss or team, and so on.

As you continue to journal what comprises the ideal job, you’ll likely refine it over time. You’ll be thinking about it as you go about your day; revisiting your thoughts and making adjustments. As they crystallize, you may have a feeling of liberation that you never experienced or expected. You do have the ability to rewrite your own script and make things happen, if you can refuse old ways of thinking.

The hardest step is to spend the time identifying and dissecting the fears. Only then can you mentally prepare for your exciting future, which will likely be a labor of love. Indeed, on the other side of fear is true career freedom.

Image credit: Dreamstime.

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