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Are You Lost or Are You Just Afraid?

03/26/2015 05:34 EDT | Updated 05/26/2015 05:59 EDT
Michael Desmond via Getty Images
COUGAR TOWN - 'Pilot' - Courteney Cox stars as Jules, a recently divorced single mother exploring the honest truths about dating and aging in our beauty and youth obsessed culture, on 'Cougar Town,' premiering WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 (9:30-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. While most women in their twenties go through life experiencing the challenges and often humorous pitfalls of meeting men, Jules took on the responsibilities of marriage and raising a son. Now in her forties, she embarks on a journey to self-discovery whilst surrounded by fellow divorcees and singletons eager to live or re-live a time gone by. (Michael Desmond/ABC via Getty Images) COURTENEY COX

People say one of the hardest things to do in the pursuit of feel-good work is figuring out what kind of work you actually want to do. I agree with that.

Kind of.

In fact, I'd say it's something more like this: One of the hardest things to do in the pursuit of feel-good work is admitting to yourself what kind of work you actually want to do. There's a big difference between not knowing what you want and not admitting what you want.

Most of the people I work with come to me because they feel lost and they don't know what they want. At least, they think they don't know what they want. But more than half of the time -- heck, most of the time -- the problem has nothing to do with knowing; it's the fear associated with the desire.

There's nothing more terrifying than admitting what you actually want, especially if you think you can't have it.

For most, the problem isn't that you don't know what you want. It's that you're scared shitless to want it. Admitting that you want it means doing something about it. It means you're either 1) going to be on the hook for making it happen or 2) going to knowingly let yourself down. And I don't even have to tell you which of those two outcomes is more soul destroying.

Saying you don't know is the easier thing to do because that just makes you the poor shmuck who's in the dark. But I would toooootally pursue my passion if only I knew what it was. Is that really true? I'd be willing to bet that on some level there is a very wise part of you that knows exactly what you want.

Some people live their whole lives trying to hide from their own truth. Don't go through life willingly playing the part of the poor shmuck.

If this resonates with you then, honey, your problem is not that you don't know what you want. It's that you're afraid to admit it to yourself. And those are two very different things.

So what do you do when you're terrified of what you want?

First, you take a deep breath and admit what you want, even if only to yourself. Second, you admit that it scares the living crap out of you (you're not alone in this). Third, you deal with the fear. You examine it like a scientist. What exactly is it you're afraid of? And why? Dig deeper. Once you get close to your fear you'll figure out what makes it tick -- and that, my friend, is where the magical dance between fear and courage begins.

This is an excerpt from Be Your Own Career Coach: A Course for Discovering Your Calling.

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