Overcoming our fear of change

June 7, 2017

Perhaps underlying surface fears is a basic fear of change. We humans are creatures of habit, and habits are hard to break. It takes nerves of steel to open a practice cold in today’s environment, yet several of my former students have done precisely that and are doing extremely well. So, it can be done, but I am quite sure they had their moments of fear.


 

The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

The dictionary defines fear as an unwelcome emotion caused by a perceived threat that something is dangerous or may cause us harm or pain.

A fear of some things is necessary and drilled into us at an early age lest we hurt ourselves, like a hot stove. We all have fears, whether they are of actual threats like venomous snakes (my biggest) or perceived threats like, oh, a zombie apocalypse. We are all human with more than our fair share of phobias and fears.

My fears have changed over the years. When I was younger, my greatest fear was dying before my children were grown. Now my fear is of slowly dying.

Previously from Dr. Bowling: Delaying the inevitable

I’m sure we have professional fears as well. Some fear losing their jobs. Some may fear their boss. I'm sure if we dwelt on the myriad threats facing optometry, we could become paranoid rather quickly. One of the biggest I hear is a fear of stepping out on your own-the fear of leaving a comfortable job with a nice salary and a well-established routine and going to another practice or of opening cold. These of course are normal.

 

Perhaps underlying those surface fears is a basic fear of change. We humans are creatures of habit, and habits are hard to break. It takes nerves of steel to open a practice cold in today’s environment, yet several of my former students have done precisely that and are doing extremely well. So, it can be done, but I am quite sure they had their moments of fear.

When I was leaving my first paid gig with an ophthalmologist to purchase my own practice, I recall waking in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking, “What am about to do?” Taking on still more debt, moving my family, venturing into the unknown, did I have fears. Years later, I awoke in the same cold sweat asking the same question as I was preparing to sell the practice and teach. In both instances, things turned out better than I expected.

Related: It’s about ocular health, not sales

It doesn’t have to be as big as starting a practice. Adding new equipment, relocating your practice, adding a new employee, or perhaps the worst, letting an employee go. All these scenarios can cause us to lie awake at night. Is it a fear of what might happen? Probably not. It is an underlying fear of change.

But change is good. Change forces us outside our comfort zones and as a result, we expand our vistas. I preached to my children as they were growing to never be afraid to take a chance. They took me quite literally, and I’ve had to bite my tongue a number of times to hold my opinion on their ventures. Again, it appears to be working out well for them.

I recently overcame another of my fears, a long-standing one. My first novel will be available on Amazon this fall.

Read more from Dr. Bowling here