For a long time, I’d been satisfied with my life, but didn’t find the freedom I was looking for. I grew up naturally being able to remain positive and push through challenges, but I saw that I was living life inside my own box, not challenging myself and doing things I loved – work that I loved.
As far as I remember, my eyes were shut to doing work that was uniquely me; I was unaware that this could be a real, valid way of life because what I knew was my degree (which I wasn’t stoked about) and working a job for four years that paid the bills. That’s all I knew – how to do things that simply paid the bills.
This went on until I saw that my freedom lay directly inside my fears.
My moment came in early January 2011, when I wrote a prayer in my journal that would forever rock my world. I asked God to give me something I was passionate about, something that intimidated me. I wanted something intimidating because anything less, I knew, wouldn’t be worth my time. If I wasn’t uncomfortable, it wasn’t worth pursuing.
In June of 2011, just six months after my prayer and months of mental preparation for the change to come, my husband and I decided I would leave my full-time job to stay home with our daughter and start my coaching business. We didn’t have a year’s salary saved up or a back-up plan. We just knew it was time to make the decision and deal with the consequences because the risk was worth it.
And as life tends to do, it gave us exactly what we asked for: challenge and intimidation. Two weeks after I quit my job, my husband got laid off. Without the security of a stable income, I felt totally lost. I just couldn’t understand or believe how this could be happening.
I had always felt that I was meant to be an entrepreneur, I knew I was meant to change the world, but all I could see were my fears ahead of me – they covered my eyes and took me to a world of scary stories I believed would come true: our cars would be taken away, we’d lose our house, my business would fail and I’d have to go back to a day job, our daughter would go without the things she deserved.
This fear literally took months away from my life. It stared at me straight in the face when I woke up and lay down with me when I went to bed. It continued until a friend gave me a prized piece of advice that turned into a mantra I came back to over and over again: “Don’t consume yourself in worry, focus instead on helping one person each day and your problem will work itself out. This way you won’t waste time fearing what will happen tomorrow.”
It slowly started to sink in that despite my looming fears, this made sense as a place to begin. And while it seemed obvious to do, it had never occurred to me while I was in the claustrophobia of my own fear.
I slowly began to see my way out and begin a new journey. Shifting my focus and switching gears ended up being the best thing for myself, my family, and my business. Helping others instead of being consumed in my own problems somehow gave me the clarity I needed and opened my eyes as to what I needed to do next.
Exactly one year after my prayer of taking on something I was intimidated by, I founded End Sex Trafficking Day, the immensely intimidating philanthropic project that required me to ask big-shot business people if they would contribute an essay to a book to raise 10K to attempt to put an end to, or at least curb, the tragic statistics of millions of women being sold into sex slavery around the world. I wanted to generate awareness for this issue on one particular day and publish a book with all the essays. Turns out this was easier to think about than do! It took massive courage and I was hit with fear every single day – I feared no one would say “Yes,” that I would fail over and over again, and that I would embarrass myself.
The reality? Not many fears over the last two years have come true. Sure, I’ve been embarrassed, sure I’ve gotten some “No’s.” but nothing I couldn’t easily recover from. And how did I find freedom by meeting these fears? Because if I hadn’t taken on my fears, dove face first into them, I would not be doing what I do today – my dream, my love, my ultimate passion – which is running my business and creating the change I want to see in the world. I woulnd’t be doing what I love. I wouldn’t be fighting sex trafficking, I wouldn’t be helping women rocket their own revolution as I did, by building philanthropy into their business model. I wouldn’t be at home with my daughter.
What I learned is that in order to find freedom, you need to recognize your fears. Respect them, use them as fuel for your rocket to TAKE ACTION, just like the fuel in a rocket powers it’s upward motion. If you let your fears keep you from making things happen, nothing changes, t won’t even if you wish it to. You must make the decision to move forward regardless of what your fear tells you. And once you do, you’ll see your freedom lies just beyond your greatest fear. It is a paradox, but it is the truth.
About: Erin Giles is the founder of End Sex Trafficking Day and is a business coach that teaches women how to build a big philanthropic project into their business model. You can get started today by enrolling in her free 3 day workshop, Ignite Your Revolution by clicking here.