Your Next Big Move Should Scare You
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Your Next Big Move Should Scare You

Your gut says no. Here’s why you shouldn’t always listen to it.

Tue, May 23, 2023 8:36amGrey Clock 4 min

Melissa Ben-Ishay was scared when she walked into the first commercial kitchen for baking her cupcakes. She was scared when a publisher proposed she write a cookbook. And she was terrified when the board of Baked by Melissa, the company that bears her name but had long been run by more-experienced executives, offered her the CEO role in 2019.

“It was nauseating and emotional, like in my throat,” she says. She put the “Rocky” theme on her headphones. She considered her blind spots, like her lack of finance knowledge. But she didn’t say no.

“That’s just not an option,” she says. “You have to do the things that are scary.”

Big moments and decisions in our lives can make our stomachs drop. Moving somewhere new, getting married, starting a family—if we’re sizing them up realistically, maybe we should be nervous. (Newborns are exhausting; being a manager is hard.) More than half of workers in a recent poll ranked starting a new job as scarier than skydiving or holding a snake.

Just trust your gut, everyone implores when you’re staring down a new opportunity. It takes effort to distinguish between normal jitters and the kind of fear that’s a real warning sign, though. And it’s more work still to convince yourself to just do it, even if you’re doing it scared.

First, take a breath, advises Luana Marques, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of a coming book about harnessing anxiety. Calm your nerves by meditating, taking a walk or talking to a friend. Then, with clearer eyes, ask yourself: If I said yes, would taking on the discomfort of a new thing get me closer to where I want to be in my career or relationships?

Often, the fear cloaking our big decisions is “an anxiety toward your dream life,” Marques says.

The tough parts

For years, when Jessica Lapp thought about having a baby, she mostly felt freaked out. The wedding photographer, now 29 years old, would scroll through motherhood accounts on Instagram, where new moms lamented having no time to sleep, exercise or shower.

“Why would you sign up for this?” she recalls thinking.

Still, she could envision having a family with her husband. She began to poke at her fear. Was she focusing on the short-term trials of having a baby and losing sight of the long-term joys of having a child?

Fear can even be helpful, she realised, steeling oneself for the tough parts: the colicky baby, the loneliness of those early months.

“It’s the best decision I ever made,” she told me from her home near Charlottesville, Va., while her 1-year-old, Evelyn, napped.

It’s human to overcomplicate the moments that matter, and that’s OK, says Oded Netzer, a Columbia Business School professor who studies the use of data in decision-making. Research from Netzer and co-authors finds that, when faced with a clear but important choice, we start weighing factors that don’t really matter to us, such as the layout of a potential new office or lunch options at the school your kid would attend if you moved. Doing that makes the decision harder for ourselves, but it matches the gravity of the situation.

Spiralling into our fear, he says, ultimately makes us more confident in our call because we’ve done our due diligence instead of blindly trusting our intuition.

Comfortable, miserable

Not choosing is making a choice, too. Many clients who come to Tega Edwin, a St. Louis-based career counsellor, have stayed in bad jobs for years, terrified they’ll fail or be equally miserable elsewhere. And sure, they might.

Avoiding the unknown, Edwin tells them, guarantees a bad outcome: the job you already know you hate.

“I’m going to be in the exact same circumstance and nothing would change,” Danny Thompson, a software engineer in the Dallas area, says he figured when sizing up whether to try martial arts classes.

After gaining pandemic pounds, he was nervous to don the tight shirts required for jiu jitsu, afraid to be out of breath. Yet he knew there was no way his health would improve if he didn’t go.

“Fifteen seconds in, I was exhausted,” he said of the first lesson. Slowly, he got better. He participated in his first competition this winter, still scared, and placed second in his weight class.

Danger ahead

Sometimes you shouldn’t trudge ahead. Anne Mamaghani, a user-experience consultant in San Jose, Calif., felt torn when a recruiter presented a job opportunity that would have brought her near family in Indiana, exposed her to a new industry and boosted her title. The thought of wresting her two children, ages 10 and 13, from their school and community felt awful, though.

The stakes seemed too high to simply forge on, as she’d done in other situations. After all, it was her family members who would pay the price for a wrong call. After a couple of weeks of considering, she told the recruiter no thanks.

Learning to navigate change can be like building a muscle. When Mark Smith moved to Toronto from Salt Lake City a few years ago with his family, panic hit him on the first day of his new job.

“I just started thinking, what have I done?” he says. It took anti anxiety medication, a visit from friends and several months before he felt confident in his new life. That time abroad did bring him closer to his wife and son, he says, and proved his own resilience.

Smith jumped at the chance when the family had an opportunity to move to Italy last year. This time, he says he felt no fear at all.

“A good life,” he says, “requires a few risks.”


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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A ‘cheeky’ seat takes out the top prize at Australia’s Next Top Designers Awards

A cash prize from Kanebridge Quarterly magazine, offered for the first time this year, drew a record number of entries for the design competition

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A versatile stool with a sense of fun took out the top prize at the Australia’s Next Top Designers awards at Design Show Australia last week.

The ‘Cheeky’ stool designed by Maryam Moghadam was the unanimous winner among the judging panel, which included Kanebridge Quarterly magazine Editor in Chief, Robyn Willis, Workshopped Creative Director Olaf Sialkowski, Design Show event organiser, Andrew Vaughan and Creative Director at Flexmirror Australia, Matt Angus.

Designed as an occasional stool or side table, the Cheeky stool comes in a range of skin tones. The judges applauded its commercial applications, its flexibility to work in a range of environments, and its sense of play.

In accepting the $10,000 prize, designer Maryam Moghadam quipped she was pleased to see ‘other people find bums as funny as I do’. A finalist at last year’s awards, Moghadam will put the prize money towards bringing her product to market.

Winner Maryam Moghadam said the $10,000 prize money would be put towards developing her product further for market.

Australia’s Next Top Designers is in its fourth year, but this is the first year a cash prize has been offered. Kanebridge Quarterly magazine has put up the prize money to support the next generation of emerging industrial design talent in Australia.

Editor in Chief Robyn Willis said the cash prize offered the winner the opportunity to put the money towards whatever aspect of their business it would most benefit.

“That might be prototyping their product further, spending on marketing, or simply paying for travel or even childcare expenses to allow the designer to focus on their work and take it to the next stage,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be supporting this design program and nurturing emerging design in a very practical way.”

The Coralescence lamps from the Tide Pool series by Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa had strong commercial applications, the judges said.
The Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit is crafted from FSC-certified oak or walnut.

Two finalists were also awarded ‘highly commended’ by the judges — Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit and the Coralescence lights from Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa at Tide Pool Designs. The judges agreed both products were beautifully resolved from a design perspective, as well as having strong commercial applications in residential and hospitality design. 


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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