Conquering the Fear of Change

“Growth and comfort do not coexist; it’s in the challenge of change that we find our true strength and value.”

Several years ago I found myself at a professional crossroads. I worked in the non-profit sector where passion often supersedes the pursuit of a bigger paycheck, but I loved my job and the mission of the organization I worked for. 

Unexpectedly, a recruiter reached out to me with an offer that seemed too tempting to ignore—a position that promised not only a role equally as fulfilling but also a $20,000 increase in salary. I was torn. I toyed with the idea of discussing a raise with my current employer, fully aware that such conversations were rare in my sector and typically resulted in modest increases, if any.

The thought of approaching my boss for a raise, especially months before salary reviews were even on the agenda, was scary. The fear of overstepping, of appearing ungrateful, or even the risk of jeopardizing my current position, weighed heavily on me. Yet, beneath those fears was a stronger, more compelling voice that reminded me of my worth. It whispered of self-value and the importance of advocating for myself, despite the fear, discomfort and potential for change that it might bring.

Change, after all, is scary! It evokes a wide range of emotions, from excitement to anxiety. It challenges our comfort zones, pushing us into the unknown, and forces us to confront the possibility of loss—whether it’s the loss of stability, familiarity, or the comfort of our current routines. The fear of change is deeply ingrained in our psyche, serving as a protective mechanism that has evolved over centuries. 

However, I believe equally powerful is the fear of stagnation—of missing out on what could be, of not reaching your full potential.  This fear propels you forward, encouraging you to take risks, to embrace the possibility of growth, and to pursue the realization of your dreams. This fear stems from an understanding that personal and professional development often requires us to step into the unknown, to get uncomfortable, to embrace change…even when it scares you. 

Balancing these fears—the fear of change and the fear of stagnation—is delicate. It requires introspection and the willingness to confront what you’re truly afraid of. In my case, it meant recognizing that the fear of not advocating for myself, of not pursuing what I deserved, was greater than the fear of change itself. It was a realization that, sometimes, fear is worth being uncomfortable if it leads to growth, new opportunities, and fulfillment. 

Ultimately, I decided to open up to my boss about the offer and my desire for a raise. The conversation was difficult, but it was also empowering. It reinforced the idea that valuing oneself and taking risks is important for personal and professional growth. Whether we choose to embrace change or seek improvement within our current circumstances, the journey involves navigating our fears and making decisions that align with our values and aspirations.

The outcome? My boss acknowledged my contributions and, after some negotiation, agreed to a raise. It wasn’t the full $20k increase, but it was significant enough to reflect my value to the organization and keep me engaged in work I loved. My decision to stay wasn’t solely about the money. There were other factors—my satisfaction with my role, and my passion for the mission. I was willing to accept less to remain in a position where I felt genuinely fulfilled and valued. 

In the end, the recruiter’s call served as a catalyst for reflection and action, not just about my career trajectory, but about the broader theme of change in our lives. Whether it’s contemplating a new job, seeking deserved recognition, or any other crossroads you face, the journey through fear and uncertainty can lead to profound personal growth and fulfillment. Change, with all its fears, is not just inevitable but necessary. And as I learned, sometimes, the fear of standing still is the push we need to move forward.

Remember, YOU GOT THIS!



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