Updated: Jul 22, 2022
One of my favorite football movies is The Replacements. In it, a collection of non-professional athletes are brought in as substitutes for professional players who are on strike. The thing that unifies them, despite their diverse backstories, is the fear of returning to where they came from, lives that are clearly not ideal hence stepping in as scabs. During one game, things start to go in the wrong direction for the team and they being to discuss “quicksand”. Keanu Reeves’s character, the quarterback, defines quicksand, stating “you try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink, until you can’t move, can’t breathe… because you’re in over your head.” The players agree that this is their biggest fear, the inability to escape a process leading to oblivion. Fear, for them, is a self-perpetuating compulsion leading to oblivion.
Do you have The Fear?
A few months ago, I noticed that I was compulsively hesitating. Historically, I’ve taken action. I prided myself being able to make things happen when the odds were against me. While taking action often led to defeat, it never felt like failure because I’d tried to do what was right. There were some great successes along the way.
Then, I stopped taking action even when something felt right. I noticed that I’d convinced myself an idea had no merit, that too many people were already doing something for me to enter the space, or that it was destined to fail. So, instead of taking action and finding new opportunities, I’d do nothing. This led me to feel like I couldn’t achieve anything because I hadn’t (the scope of memory for successes seems very short) and thus I would be even more nervous about the next opportunity. Quicksand.
Those practicing FIRE may be hindered by The Fear. Achieving FIRE is one great success and achievements on the other side may not feel like much. As the timeline extends, the opportunities to achieve these successes may become less common, the absence of success leading that the fear that success is no longer possible. Then, a practitioner may not want to attempt any type of action lest The Fear become any stronger.
The key is to move forward. Action, even if it leads to different ends than initially intended, leads to opportunity. Opportunity with sustained action leads to successes. It’s the only way to get past The Fear.
So, this is intended to be encourage engagement with new opportunities in your chosen area. This could be a new hobby, employment opportunity, project, or friendship. The Fear is what keeps you from moving forward, tells you that something is not worth the effort or won’t be successful or won’t actually turn out the way you want it to. Ignoring it and moving forward anyway is what breaks the cycle. That, in itself, is a success.