Menu

Do What Excites You: How to Push Through Fear & Make Bold Choices

Woman traveling in Milan

“You’ve got to do things that feel unnatural if you want to grow.” ~Jon Morrow

“You’re leaving, aren’t you?” my boss said.

“Yes,” I nodded.

“What do I have to pay you to make you stay?” he asked.

I just stared at him. No words would come.

“There’s nothing I can do, is there?” he said.

More silence. But my inner voice was anything but silent. I was consumed with doubt and deafened by the bloody battle raging inside my head.

On one side was caution, armed with the strong, fight-to-the-death breed of soldier. Her battalion was fuelled by countless victories over the dozens of glorious ideas that had fallen on their swords before.

On the other side was courage, armed with nothing but hope and crazy determination. There was no battalion. Only a thin veneer of pluck.

Courage won. Only just.

I could have balked at any moment, backed down from my insane plan and taken the easy way out. I could have taken the lucrative job at one of London’s top investment banks that was being offered to me on a silver platter.

But my gut screamed, “No, you’ve got to go! You’ll never find what you’re searching for if you stay.”

Days later, as the plane touched down in the Russian capital, my breath caught in my throat.

A lone, skinny, baby-faced blonde with a crazy notion to catch the train across Siberia.

What the hell was I doing? Caution had stowed away in the recesses of my mind and now screamed in my ear.

Was I mad? Probably. Was I terrified? Definitely. Was I excited? Out of my skin.

Looking back, I believe courage won the battle that day because it was backed by my overwhelming desire for discovery. I wanted to discover the world and my rightful place in it.

And the reason it won? Because I listened to my subconscious mind.

The subconscious mind is the feeling mind. Its ancient roots are primitive, and it’s the home of emotions such as fear, anger, and desire. The subconscious is powerful and tireless. Within it, both my fears and desires became formidable forces. But desire was stronger.

The subconscious’s nemesis, the conscious mind, driven by logic, reason, and foresight, showed its face in the battle that day as caution and attempted to derail my desire.

But it’s a fundamental truth that whenever the two minds are in conflict, the subconscious always wins. Deep emotional feelings overpower reasoned thought every time.

Deep inside my subconscious mind, I knew I was searching for something I could only find by pushing myself to my limits.

I knew I’d never find it if I continued with my dreary job. I knew that if I’d not found it in my current life already, it wasn’t there. I knew I needed to look someplace else.

I knew I had no choice but to go.

So I went. Here’s what I discovered on my journey.

Discovery #1: Fear works in two ways: it will make you run or it will paralyze you.

Fear is a curious beast. It manifests itself differently in everybody, but the result is always the same – you fight like heck or you run as fast as you can. But you can’t run or escape a mental threat, so escape becomes paralysis. You escape through inaction. By avoiding the decision itself.

I experienced both impulses, avoiding and fighting, that day. Terrified by what lay ahead, I nearly caved and said “yes, I’ll stay,” as it was the easiest way to flee my crazy idea. But my fight response kicked in, fuelling my swift and steadfast decision to go.

Discovery #2: For every decision you make, caution will present hundreds of safer alternatives.

Successful life decisions are all born as “what ifs.”

It’s easy to be confused by the volume of possibility and the memories of past choices, and miss the best decision.

Sure, I could have decided to take the banking job and make lots of money. I could have decided to build a great career with the help of a strong advocate. I could have decided to remain in the U.K. long enough to secure citizenship that would open doors in my future.

But the strongest and best decision for me was to leave. Because when I fought through the waves of fear and listened to my deepest desires, going on this journey felt right. The prospect filled me with the most glorious excitement out of all the possible outcomes.

Discovery #3: You’re sharply aware of every door you close but blind to all the doors you could open.

It’s true. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. The trouble is that it shadows our foresight. I could clearly see every door I was closing that day. Each opportunity reared its stubborn head as I slammed the door in its face.

But when it came to my future, I was blindfolded.

None of us have a script for what lies ahead, but we all have a critical role to play in casting the characters and choosing the scenes.

I chose to be a bold, fearless character that day. I wrote the opening scene and stepped through the door.

Discovery #4: Every fear conquered today makes tomorrow easier.

Life isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s damned brutal sometimes. But every battle you face makes you stronger. You’re better equipped to deal with the next inevitable blow you face.

I faced my fear that day, and in the days that followed. The moment I stepped onto the airport tarmac with my heart in my throat, I wanted to run. The moment I arrived at the crowded train station, feeling confused by the language and scared by the strange faces, I wanted to run. The moment the train shuddered to life and began its fourteen-day journey across Siberia, I wanted to pull the emergency break and run.

But I stayed. My resolve had been fortified by my hard-won battles of yesterday.

Discovery #5: The only wrong decision is the one you don’t learn from.

Everybody’s afraid of making the wrong decision. We’re all afraid of consequences we might not foresee.

So how do you know if you’re making the right decision? You don’t. I believe no decision is the wrong one unless you fail to learn from it, whatever the outcome.

If you’re stuck and can’t make a decision, change your view. Take yourself somewhere quiet and think through your options, taking note of how you feel during each moment. The answers are there.

Why my triumphs can be yours too.

My decisions, fears, and triumphs aren’t so unique. Everyone experiences them. You experience them.

Sure, I took the train across Siberia on my own. Not everyone does that. But you can catch your own train.

Your train can go to a safe, predictable destination. And that’s just fine if it’s what makes you feel good deep down.

But your train can also go somewhere uncharted.

It can go through the door to life-changing self-discovery.

Self-discovery that can only be fast-tracked with a bold, insane-feeling decision.

A decision that will sit high atop a mountain of arguments and alternatives.

A decision that will wear the scars of the fight it had with caution, fear, and desire.

But if you think about it long enough, and listen to your subconscious mind, its power will win the fight.

And you’ll be the one writing your life script.

That’s what I chose. Will you?

Profile photo of Miranda Hill

About Miranda Hill

Miranda Hill helps life-hungry souls get unstuck from the chaos of life. If you want to stop spinning your wheels, hopping from one thing to the next in search of answers, download her "De-Stress In 5 Minutes" [www.grablifego.com] quiz and live more positively today.

See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!
Announcement: Tired of feeling stuck? Learn to let go of the past & create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Wonderful article, Miranda! Describes very accurately my feelings when I sold all my belongings to move abroad as a lone, not so skinny, baby-faced brunette! Sometimes deep down we know exactly what we need to do next but fear and self-doubt are sometimes hard to push through. Thanks for this lovely reminder!

  • Thanks Berni. It’s so true, deep down I believe we do know but life’s chaos makes it hard to read the signals sometimes.

  • Charlene Gracie Anestis

    A very powerful story Miranda! I love #4 such a great vision of your journey, It has been a part of my recent journey as well, conquering fears.

  • Tom

    @Miranda,
    Very motivating post. I think everyone who goes through life are faced with life changing choices at certain stages of their life. There is an option to remain idle and not make a change or to make a change for the better or sometimes for the worse. I think it’s very important to make the decision without regret despite the uncertainty that awaits. This hits home with me and this theme of critical decison making will be one that I’ll continually face.
    Yours truly
    Tom

  • Ann Davis

    Miranda,
    You put a smile on my face! I’ve traveled, alone, afraid, excited…
    This post has brought back good memories.
    Nicely done!
    Ann

  • Nicki Lee

    “Fear is a curious beast. It manifests itself differently in everybody, but the result is always the same – you fight like heck or you run as fast as you can. But you can’t run or escape a mental threat, so escape becomes paralysis. You escape through inaction. By avoiding the decision itself.” You summed up my problem exactly, Miranda. Still building up to catch my train!

  • Thanks Nicki. Inaction and avoidance is such a common way to allow fear to win. There’s a saying that I love, “Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it”. All the best catching your train.

  • Travel creates the best memories doesn’t it. And it’s even better when you take the time to revel in the memories so you holiday lives on and continues to make you smile long after it’s over.

  • Hi Tom, you’re so right. Life throws us curly and difficult decisions at different times. Many times these are linked to stages of change. As long as you trust yourself and go into your decision as informed as you can be in your current situation, you need to back yourself and look forwards with positivity, not backwards with regret.

  • Hi Charlene. Thanks so much for your comment. I love to hear what parts of my story have resonated with others. Facing your fears certainly toughens you up. I’m so pleased to hear you’ve been conquering your fears in life too.

  • Very well said. Anytime we challenge the paradigm that is stuck in the subconscious mind we run right into what I call the Terror Barrier. We have to fuel the new vision of where we see ourselves going to get to the other side of this fear. Calling up that vision is something we should do daily.

  • Well said Jeffry. I love your term, the ‘Terror Barrier’. There’s no easy way over it, you’ve just got to charge ahead fueled by your vision. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Timbo813

    This is one of the best articles I’ve read on the topic of overcoming fear to make bold choices. One particular paragraph really grabbed me – “On one side was caution, armed with the strong, fight-to-the-death breed of soldier. Her battalion was fuelled by countless victories over the dozens of glorious ideas that had fallen on their swords before. On the other side was courage, armed with nothing but hope and crazy determination. There was no battalion. Only a thin veneer of pluck.” Wow! What a beautiful description of the internal voices that cause us to struggle with making a difficult decision. My hat is off to you Miranda!

  • Thanks so much for your kind words. Our internal voices are a force to be reckoned with at times. Oddly, they sound just like us, so they’re often hard to ignore. All the best with your decision making and finding the strongest, best decision for you in the future.

  • Amazing post, Miranda! Your writing is as sharp, inspiring and brave as the choices you made.

  • Great post Miranda. I really liked how you talked about the fear of a wrong decision, and the only wrong decision being not learning from it. I so agree. We become absolutely paralysed by fear of doing the wrong thing and never do anything worth doing. Well done.

  • Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.

  • Wonderful post Miranda – I did much the same thing but the other way around – I caught the Trans Siberian Express from from Beijing through to Moscow when Tienanmen Square blew up and left me stranded. One other answer to fear is to have an even bigger fear pushing you on:)

  • gen

    wow thank you so much this is such a powerful post article thank you again you have inspired me to become a better person better self really truly amazing thats what i want to do and be in my life

  • Thanks for your kind words Liz. They mean a lot.

  • Aha, so you know the eye-opening fun of the Trans Siberian Express too Laura. A great point as well, having a bigger fear pushing you will always get you going or make you make a decision.

  • Thanks for your comment Gen. I wish you all the best on your newly inspired life journey.

  • “The head may be right, but the heart is always right.” Great job, Miranda! 😉 #keepgrowing #keepcreating

  • Well done and well written! I didn’t get on a train to Siberia (great idea though), instead I moved to a different country. My fears were exactly like the ones you describe. In the end I followed my heart and haven’t regretted a single moment!

  • I agree Tim. I loved that paragraph. Great piece Miranda.

  • Deb

    Wow, this is exactly what I needed to hear right now. After many trauma and stress filled years, I am now in a position where I can afford to quit my job and live my life differently. I can do some things I’ve never had a chance to do. I’m almost 58 years old, newly divorced, and my 3 kids are all well, happy, and self-supporting. On one hand, I feel like it’s now or never (at least not until I’m old enough to retire), but there are a lot of “what ifs” holding me back – Fear of lots of things all tied up in security. Thanks for sharing your story, I feel inspired.

  • Hi Deb, sounds like you’re at an exciting cross-roads in your life. No doubt you’ll have lots of fears but I love the saying… you fears are there to remind you that something is worthwhile. All the best with everything.

  • Jack Sparrow

    Thank you for this article! It reminds me of the saying “feel the fear and do it anyway!” As far as I know the only difference that courageous people have is that they continue through the fear. With time and practice this seems to get easier and easier. And I’m finding right now that I can practice this on smaller things – face smaller fears to get better at tackling bigger ones. Keep chipping away at it, it gets easier over time.

  • Miranda, this really is a super article, thanks for putting me onto it the other day. Having upped sticks from the UK to live in Paris back in ’96 when I graduated, I know all about the fear factor of living in a new city and travelling in an as-yet-undiscovered country. It was to be the first of many over the next few years. It is exciting and at the same time nerve-wracking.

    All the points you make are spot on. I was particularly taken in by “You’re sharply aware of every door you close but blind to all the doors you could open.” How true that is.

    Feelings of fear, anxiety and apprehension only seem to grow as you get older too… until, that is, you remember how important it is to take action and keep moving forward.

    During the coming year, that’s what it’s about for me. Channeling the fear into forward momentum and quashing the incessant internal voice that insists on dissuading me from getting out of my comfort zone so I can fulfil a higher purpose by finding and serving my audience.

  • This is a really accurate article, and I could see myself through all of this. I’ve also had the wonderful opportunity to study fear (being formally paranoid;-) , and completely agree with what you say of it.

    Fear is a funny one. If you are too fearful about life (depression, OCD etc), one of the great ways to help yourself is to let the fear, ‘wash’ over you. Then something happens. It turns to excitement.

    I think our negative emotions are kinda like that. With awareness, you can help transform the emotion to its positive counterpart. Another one is anger, where if you were to be mindful of it, is actually compassion.

    Thanks for posting

  • Jennifer Smith

    Great article! So, true: “The subconscious mind is the feeling mind. Its ancient roots are primitive, and it’s the home of emotions such as fear, anger, and desire. The subconscious is powerful and tireless. ” – Trust our gut.

  • Thanks Jennifer, so pleased it resonated with you. Feeling our fears and worries is the first step to understanding them and being able to overcome them. So often the old proverbs have great truth, trust our gut is one of them.

  • Hi Julian, thanks for the great insights into letting fear wash over you. Awareness is everything and without it, one can never begin to overcome what is holding them back.