The detours and shortcuts caused by fear

When I first started my book project I was on a trip. Usually when I travel and change the environment I’m in, I feel inspired and full of new ideas, as I am sure you do too. The idea I got this time was to write a book about detours and shortcuts and how people end up where they do in their lives. I wanted to write about the paths we choose, the hoops we jump through and the unplanned detours we take before we find the place where we were meant to be. Being a constant searcher myself and having spent most of my life on this quest, the topic fascinates me and so I jumped right in. I was so excited and motivated! I spent hours and hours writing and researching. The words were just flowing out of me and onto the pages.

But a few weeks into the project, something happened. It was nothing new to me. In fact, this was something that had happened almost every time I took on a new creative project, decided to start a business or make another big change in my life. I lost it. The energy, the focus, the momentum and the motivation – it was all gone.

Sure, day-to-day life takes a lot of time and energy and it’s to be expected that the excitement of a new project will start to fade once you are back at work, in your daily routines and in your home environment. However, if you really want something bad enough, you will make room for it in your life. You will find the time and energy to work on that project if you just have the motivation and stay clear on where you want to go and why. But if you lose that, you won’t get anything done, no matter how much free time you have. So I was stuck.

Again.

I couldn’t count the number of times in my life I had gotten all fired up about something, had a great idea, done my research, written business plans, read books and articles and thought that I had finally found that special creative outlet that would add an extra spark to my life. But every time, the same thing happened a few weeks into the project. I couldn’t focus; I would start questioning the idea and my own ability to pull it off. I would start to wonder if it was something I really wanted after all. And then I would give in and give up.

This time though, something was different.

I didn’t want to just back down, give up and surrender to my doubts. This time I had a completely different reaction altogether. I got angry. Furious even! I was so fed up with feeling that hope and excitement, only to watch it die again just as I was getting started. So on one of my long walks, I started really digging deep and analyzing why this always happened to me. I used the anger I was feeling to drive me to not give up until I had some answers. I didn’t want to let go of my idea this time, I didn’t want to do all the planning and preparations, but never get into the real action and take the steps to follow through. I refused to just discard another project and add it to the pile of unused ideas, while I continued on with my life as usual. So I peeled off layer after layer of possible reasons, excuses, obstacles and personality traits that could be standing in my way. What was it that was blocking me? I couldn’t figure it out.

detour_sign_detoursandshortcutsAnd then I stopped. Literally. I stopped walking. I didn’t want any distractions, not even the soft sound of my shoes touching the grass, to interrupt this moment. I didn’t want to miss anything my brain was suddenly telling me. I wanted to hear that message as clearly as I possibly could. I must have been ignorant or too stubborn to see the obvious. I must have been hiding behind so many excuses, that I had learned to believe them. Whatever it was, I will admit now, not without the appropriate amount of shame, that I had never, ever before seen that what had been stopping me all along, in all of my projects, dreams and ideas, had been fear. Go figure. I knew that I was worried about uncertain outcomes and failure, I knew that I had sometimes been shy or not felt confident enough to do things that I wanted to do in life, but I had honestly never seen the connection between my unrealized projects and fear. I had never before understood just how much fear had been running my life.

Now that I realized this, I got even more furious! I kept on walking with determined steps forward. I suddenly started to see how fear had been meddling in my relationships, in my career, in my choices of where to live and what to do, in my lifestyle, the group of friends I had spent time with – it was all over my life, but had been hiding from me all along! It had stopped me from moving forward with projects, stopped me from writing my books, stopped me from getting closer to my dreams, stopped me from taking risks and from making more money, new friends and anything else I had wanted at different stages of my life. When I finally saw that, I decided that enough was enough. I wasn’t going to hide again, I wasn’t going to back down, nor was I going to pick a fight with fear (that’s a hard one to win, anyway). So I did the only thing I could do.

I said to my fear; ”Okay, you want to challenge me? Game on!”

If fear wanted to interfere, I would give it more than that. If it could jump out of the bushes and try to scare me, I could scare it right back! I decided to put the spotlight on fear and lure it out of the shadows. I decided to give it more attention than it had ever asked for. It had been running my life, my friends’ lives and almost everybody else’s lives for far too long and I wasn’t going to stand by and watch it go on any longer.

So I decided to make fear the lead character. I put aside my book project on detours and shortcuts (for the moment) and instead I chose a new topic to work on – fear.

I was going to work with fear. Yes, with it.

Fear couldn’t stop me when fear was the subject of my project! So I started researching and writing about fear and how we can master it, how we can take control and create the lives we want without being held back by fear. I am still curious about the bigger picture of why we end up where we do and the inevitable detours we take along the way, but first things first. All these roadblocks of fear (which no doubt are causing many of the said detours!) need to be moved out of the way first.

So there you have it. The background to why I have embarked on another detour of my own. At least this one is for a good cause…

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My own detours and shortcuts in life

Exploring and observing everything around me is my thing. I wandered on my fair share of winding paths. I have lived in between five and nine countries (depending on how you count), spent months and months traveling to well over fifty of the world’s nations and moved house/apartment/room at least thirty or so times over the years. I just can’t sit still. Surprisingly enough though, I have actually lived in a small corner of Southern Sweden for over six years now. I guess it works because I constantly travel in my job. Or maybe I am just getting older and lazier.

I will go pretty much anywhere once, but I adore Italy and go there at least once every year to fill up on delicious food, awesome coffee, sparkling Prosecco and inspiration. I also always enjoy going back to the USA, as well as almost anywhere else that is warmer than Sweden (which doesn’t leave out many countries!).

Writing has always been my passion and I have been doing it since I was about twelve. It’s something I need to do no matter what, for work or for myself. Professionally, I have done everything from running a bar in the Caribbean to trying to manage a team of wild twenty-somethings at an IT company in Barcelona. Most of the time though, my work has been rooted in communication and marketing. I have also spent almost fifteen years recruiting and coaching staff and students, helping them to find the right paths in their lives and careers. Although I was often drifting around in my own life, working on and studying all kinds of unrelated subjects and projects, I always found it easy to coach and guide others in their lives. Or maybe that is exactly why I can do it. Those who can’t do, teach. Isn’t that what they say? Anyway, I guess this explains my fascination for life’s detours and shortcuts and the obstacles we believe stand in our way.

With courage and curiosity,
Mia

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