Reading: 10 Tips to Face Fear, Desperation and Doubt in Your Reinvention

Second Acts

10 Tips to Face Fear, Desperation and Doubt in Your Reinvention

Learn how to grab onto your passion and just go for it

By Genevieve Piturro

You’ve decided to do it. It’s time to live your purpose and stop dreading the morning alarm. You’ve summoned your courage; you’re feeling strong and ready to forge a new future because you’re tired of telling yourself, “there’s got to be more than this.” 

And I can tell you, there is.

I made my move 20 years ago when I had an “AHA” moment. I was reading storybooks to children in shelters and when I saw them head off to sleep in the soiled and too-tight clothes they’d been wearing, I began bringing them pajamas. When a little girl asked me, “what are pajamas?” my career as a VP in television syndication went out the window.  

meaningful change

That night I vowed that nothing would stop me from making sure these children felt loved at bedtime. I became obsessed with my mission, and while that deep determination was key in starting Pajama Program, fear, desperation, and doubt taunted me along the way. I had to learn to fend off those demons and refuse to buckle when they banded together to take me down. I had to be raw, honest, and vulnerable, and you’ll have to do the same if you want to make your dream a reality. Grab onto your passion with a crystal-clear intention, sheer grit, and a gigantic dose of audacity. And here’s a truth you can’t hide from: sometimes you just have to do it — afraid. 

Along the way I learned 10 tips to keep the fear, desperation, and doubts at bay:

  1. Hand-write a promise letter to yourself about achieving your dream. 
    Hand-writing it affirms your intention and calls on the universe to help bring you what you need.  Date it and sign it.
  1. Fill a box with past accomplishments. 
    Get a shoebox and index cards. On each card, write down one thing you’ve done that you didn’t know how to do at the start. Fill the box. On days you’re doubting yourself, read a couple of cards and state your new intention boldly.
  1. Make a list of people who love you.
    This is your cheerleading squad. Be honest with them about your dreams, fears, and doubts. Trust me, you’ll need them to help you up when naysayers knock you down. When I confided in a friend that I was thinking about leaving my job to provide pajamas and books to children in shelters, she assaulted me with questions like, “Why in the world would you do that? Do you really think pajamas are going to help them? How will you make any money?”

    I didn’t have my cheerleading squad in place that night, but I did the very next day.
  1. Make a list of the smartest businesspeople you know.
    When you get stuck, choose one or two who probably know how to guide you to your next step and ask them for advice. Joi Gordon, the CEO of Dress for Success, was one of my smart businesspeople. She didn’t know me when I first called her, but she heard my passion (and desperation) and agreed to meet me. For years she’s shared her advice and suggestions.
  1. Take a chance on an idea from someone in your inner circle – no matter how odd it sounds to you. 
    During the 2007-2009 recession, nonprofits like Pajama Program were at risk of disappearing. I was desperate to raise funds. On a board call, one of our members had an idea. “Let’s have a bowling event, everyone loves to bowl!” she said. Everyone? Does anyone in New York City even bowl??  I thought it would be a disaster. I’d never been more vulnerable – I knew my heart would break if Pajama Program folded. With no other ideas, we decided to try it. Magic happened. Lots of people showed up to bowl! Everyone had fun, something we all desperately needed then. Everyone rallied to meet our financial goal. Several of my nails broke that night, but thankfully my heart didn’t.
  1. STOP.
    When you’re so overloaded that your brain feels like it’s breaking, force yourself to STOP. Take a walk. Meet a friend. Have a glass of wine or a cup of green tea and cookies. Watch your favorite movie. Visit your mother. Talk to your partner. Sometimes you need a major time-out to ward off impending insanity — or divorce. My husband made me STOP many times over the early years of Pajama Program. But I’ve learned it’s much better on your marriage when it’s a self-imposed STOP.
  1. Meditate in the morning.
    Then go about your day, always ready for inner guidance. The more you meditate, the more you’ll receive signs nudging you in the right direction. On a NYC subway shortly after my meditation, I saw the name of my new project in my mind’s eye, “Pajama Program,” and I knew it was right.
  1. Cry. 
    I cried until I was raw. Sometimes I was terrified I’d fail and disappoint so many people, especially the children. But crying can cleanse our souls, purge the negativity we’re keeping in. Let your tears flow, sob, feel the anger and let the fear bubble up. If it takes all night, let it. You may wake up with new vigor and fresh ideas.
  1. Laugh your ass off!
    What will it take? Do it. Watch it. Read it. Laughing is a surefire way to forget your problems — and you’ll sleep better, too!
  1. Help someone.
    A short visit, a call, a small gift, or a meal may be all it takes to turn someone’s day around. And you’ll be amazed how it turns you around too.

A bold move takes courage, faith, and an ability to train yourself to look up when your instinct is to look down. I’ve learned if your heart is crystal clear, put it in the driver’s seat. Your brain will figure out how to make peace with it and help you thrive under these new circumstances. But expect nothing to be the same. You, your work, and your relationships will be transformed. And there’s no going back!

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