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Combatting the Fear of a Future Unknown

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Are your fears for the future holding you back from excelling today? Here are four doubts you need to leave behind.

It’s a terrifying time to be coming of age. Technology is changing the shape of the workforce at a pace so rapid it’s difficult to predict what our jobs will look like five years from now. We’re facing the consequences of climate change and financial crisis. We’re feeling forced to live beyond our means just to find enjoyment in our day-to-day. The neighbourhoods we played in as children are decorated with homes we could never dream of affording as adults.

And yet, it’s invigorating.

The newfound accessibility to information, tools and skills is well beyond anything the generations before us have ever experienced. We’re forming relationships with people who live halfway across the world, with the click of a button. The news can be reported in real time, from devices we carry in our pockets (or wear around our wrists). We’re building businesses and innovating faster than ever before, and these products and services we’re creating have the power to transform the world – all within our lifetime.

Millennials seem to have two clear choices when it comes to change: to live in fear or fortitude. And when you put it that way, is there really any choice at all?

It’s Time to Confront Your Fears

This means letting go of the fear of being wrong. It can be incredibly intimidating to live in a world of infinite information. Everything we do is captured in a photo or a Facebook status, and everyone we know has the opportunity to critique our actions. We’re judging our peers behind the protection of a computer screen – a place where an online search for a clever comment is a simple Command+Tab shortcut away (or Alt+Tab if you’re still on Windows).

But if you remove Siri from the picture, does anyone have all the right answers? The truth is, none of us really knows exactly what we are doing, and that’s OK. Life’s path is a winding one. The sooner you accept that, the better your chances of enjoying the ride. You’re going to make mistakes every now and again. But failure is normal and perfectly acceptable. It’s how you learn and grow.

Millennials also seem to have this fear of being unproductive. We’ve been labeled as the “lazy” generation – and we can argue all day long about whether or not this is true. The real question is: what if we removed the negative connotation attached?

We live in a world that attacks the act of “doing nothing” and yet glorifies the act of “busyness.” The latter has been found to harm your brain, while the former proves to make you happier. Research shows the act of doing nothing brings numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, decreasing tension-related pain, improving the immune system and increasing serotonin (one of the key contributors to happiness). This exercise is also known as “meditation.” But when we describe it in any other way, there’s a stigma attached.

And then there’s the fear of missing out – a fright so common we even have an acronym for it. (“FOMO” for all of you baby boomer readers). We are constantly comparing our lives to the status updates of our peers, constantly contemplating what we should be doing differently or where we went wrong. But the grass is always greener on your BFF’s Instagram profile. The truth is, she’s probably still paying off her credit card for that spectacular vacation she went on two months ago. And that promotion your cousin is celebrating? It still means working for the boss he can’t stand. There’s always something else going on beyond the newsfeed.

So learn to accept your own “behind the scenes” moments – or find a way to make a change. Embrace the situation you are in today, rather than wasting your time trying to filter it for everyone else.

Perhaps the most damaging fear of all is the fear of not being good enough. The danger of seeing everyone else’s success online is that it leaves you feeling inadequate in the pursuit of your own goals and dreams. But you are the one behind the wheel and if you don’t say, think and believe in yourself, it will be difficult for others to trust you enough to help you make your dreams come true.

The good news is we’re still young. The future isn’t here yet. Instead of fearing the unknown, we should focus on what we do have – time. There is plenty of opportunity for us to learn and grow. And if we find a way to take advantage of it now, our future selves will thank us.

What is the fear that keeps holding you back? How are you going to overcome it? Share in the comments below.


Charlotte Ottaway

Charlotte is Co-Founder and Managing Editor at The Reply. She is a writer, blogger and amateur photographer with interests in positivity, creative muse, generational differences and the future of work. She has written for Canadian Business, Zoomer Magazine, The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post Canada and other Canadian publications. At her company, Web of Words, she helps solopreneurs and small business owners create real human connections online through blogging and social media. Better known by family and friends as Carly, she currently resides in Newmarket with her husband and dog-child. To learn more, check out her website at and follow her on Twitter @charlottaway.