Paralyzing fear of the phone

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I just need to talk.  My story might be a bit long but I'm falling apart emotionally and gotta do something.  I'm a canadian living in Alberta and for the past 12 years I worked in the oilfield.  I was miserable out there, hated the cold, hated the overbearing control, just generally hated my life.  I decided two years ago to make a change and I went to school to become a financial advisor and graduated this spring with distinction.  

I was approached by the 3rd largest financial management firm in the country and asked if I wanted to open an office where I live, and they offered me an extremely lucrative contract.  I quit my full time job about 3 weeks ago and began working trying to build a client base.  

Most people would kill to trade places with me.  I'm a dually licensed wealth specialist with a lucrative contract, I have all the equipment (new computer, camcorder for social media, briefcase, business cards and professional card holder), new professional clothes, a headset for making phone calls and I even set up my own call center in my basement complete with a one click dialer on my computer.  --- one problem:  I freeze solid when I attempt to make a phone call.  

Its so bad I'm absolutely paralyzed by my fear.  I sit for hours and hours writing and re writing my script, editing my mission statement, checking and rechecking emails.  Once in a while I psych myself up enough to actually dial the phone and then hang up before anyone can answer.  If someone does answer I studder and stammer and make just enough sense to introduce myself and let the other person know who the bumbling idiot is.  It's embarrassing and my fear is slowly eroding my professionalism.

My mentor calls me a "hotshot financial planner"  I'm good at what I do in terms of finance, but I never signed up to be a telemarketer.  Unfortunately he also told me that I must cold call, that this job is 90% built on cold calling for the first 2 years until I get enough clients and referrals to keep me busy.  The only thing between me and $350,000 a year business is my fear of the damn telephone.

This morning I had a breakdown.  I sat at my desk in my basement from 9:30 am until 12:30 afternoon and started feeling uneasy.  I realized I'd wasted 3 hours (enough time to call 150 people at least) and then started to cry.  I got angry and threw my cell phone at the wall and it broke into 500 pieces, I screamed at walls and ended up crumpled up on the floor crying.  I want it soooo badly.  I can see myself with the freedom and the lifestyle, I have definite goals, I have done the sales training, I have everything.  If I can't get past this fear though I'm going to spend my life in misery out in the oilfield, nightshift at 2 am, knee deep in mud in the pouring rain, carrying iron that weighs more than I do with some a**hole yelling at me.  I'm scared, I'm anxious, I'm crying and I don't know what to do.


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  • Posted

    How awful for you!

    Didn't you know that 90% of your new job would be cold-calling?

    Have you always had a fear of using the phone?

    Go to your doctor. Ask to be referred for CBT.

    And explain to your manager what's happening - unless he's a psychopath, which a great many presidents of financial companies are.

    Can you take some sick leave while you sort this out?

    I feel so sad that you've hit this brick wall. Are you married? Could you try making 'fake' calls to your partner to see if you can improve?

    Maybe this job isn't for you, though. 'The love of money is the root of all evil.'

    Money doesn't matter. I'm a nurse and I've always had JUST enough to pay the rent, feed the family and pay the bills. My husband retired some years ago so he contributes what he can.

    Our children are now grown up and happy. We gave them love and respect and taught them boundaries. Our reward is four wonderful children, all so different from one another, but who are glued together. If one has a problem, the others rush to help.

    Maybe, just maybe, your priorities are wrong?

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    • Posted

      I have complete control of my time. Nobody is forcing me to work or not work, I have no sales quota. I'm completely independent, the company I represent is a general agency that works as my back office.

      And I really hadn't ever been faced with this before. I've always been bad on the phone but figured it would get better with time and practice. In my past careers we didn't use the phone.

      On the business side I don't come at this from an evil place, it's not money that I love it is freedom. I have a passion for living freely and teaching people strategies for building passive income so they too can live more freely and have more choices on how they want to spend their time.

      I ask people all the time if there was ever someone who had passed that they wished they'd spent more time with, and then ask isn't it sad that we are controlled to the point where we have to choose our jobs over the people we love the most. Everyday without thinking about it we choose money over what's truly important because we have bills to pay and need to feed our families. How would that change your life if you had enough passive income even just to pay the basics? That's what I teach people how to do.

      Great as that is though yesterday i had a full on breakdown. Today I feel a bit better but I am extremely tired. Its 10 am and I feel like I could fall asleep sitting up. I had one person yesterday suggest that I'm scared because my sales skills are low. I'm going to spend some time on that. At this point I have too much invested in terms of time, money and resources to simply quit. Somehow I gotta get over the fear to some level. I really don't want to feel like I felt yesterday again.

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    • Posted

      I'm sure you don't want to feel like you felt yesterday again.

      How sad that people answered "MONEY".

      What did you mean by 'people who had passed'? Passed exams?

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    • Posted

      One of the reasons I chose to do what I do is because I lost a very close uncle 7 years ago.  He died from complications related to Crohn's disease.  I was out working in the bush when I got the news and when I asked to go home they told me I'd get to go when the shift ended (3 days away).  

      For years I felt chained to my equipment.  I had someone telling me what time I had to be up, someone else made all the meals so I had zero choice over what I ate, if I had to use the washroom I had to ask, and when we were working there was a guy on location whose job it was to get in your face and yell at you to keep you moving.  We had one guy come from the army and he quit to go back to the army because he said he was going to hurt the crewcabber if he yelled one more time.

      After a while though you get good at your job and they don't bother you as much, but then you start resenting being away from home for 2/3rds of your life.  I'm married and have a 7 year old son and for years I missed birthdays, anniversaries, parties, ski trips, and the rest of life.  Sadly we had built our life around the money I made working out there and I became shackled to my job, unable to leave. 

      Two years ago the oil market crashed and they cut our wages.  For 15 months they continued to cut and cut and cut until it became pointless to work there because we could make as good a living working in town.  When the market crashed I had already been considering doing something different because I just didn't like the environment and so I enrolled myself into distance education to become a financial planner.  For two long years I'd work 12 hours and then head back to camp, work out and then hit the books until I fell asleep.  If I was doing refueling on the job I would do my round of fuel as fast as possible (3 hours or so) and rush back to the break area to read until the next round of fuel needed to be done (about 15 minutes).  This spring I graduated, I passed 6 exams, got licensed in both securities and insurance, and I am now working towards the CFP designation.

      Fast forward to today and I know that the oil crash forced me to do something different.  I am not just a planner/advisor I'm a professional investor, in the past 2 years I have done 35.3% and 137.4% in the markets and get about 12% of my income from passive sources.  I have learned along the way that as the passive income grows I get more and more freedom.  Eventually I would like to get 100% from passive sources and I have an ability to teach other people what I do.

      My grandfather is 84 years old and I love spending time with him.  I look at it and think about how if he passed away wouldn't I regret spending so much time chasing a paycheque instead of spending time with him? Is money that important to me?  Clearly the answer is no, and that is the hard question I had to ask myself.  It's why I choose to do what I do.  Like I said, I have the motivation and my why is powerful enough, I just have to conquer this fear of calling complete strangers.  

      Maybe its as simple as framing it right.  I'm not calling to annoy them with another unwanted call, I'm calling to liberate them.  I dunno, that last part was just a spontaneous thought.  

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  • Posted


    Maybe in the meantime of overcoming a fear that you are not the only one to have, would it be possible to find someone to do the calling for you.

    You obviously have the script ready to go.

    Maybe you could adjust it so someone else could call on your behalf for a while until you are more comfortable with it...?

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  • Posted

    Every morning when you awake and every night before bed see yourself making code calls and it being recieved well. Get it our of your imagined mind that this has any negativity cinnected to it. It is purely imagined okay. You can get oast the fear by challengint it. It is fake and made up. Just you agreed to roll with the fear. You know what to do, do it. Figure out whats behind it. Better here is find a hypnotist and immediately go. This can be altered. You feel you are bothering people, you are not code calls are a part of the job and there will a few daily that are very interested in what you have to offer. The ines that arent allow that to fall by the wayside. This isnt something to fear rejection is normal and has nithing to domwoth you personally.  See it feel it and know this is a challenge not a fear.
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  • Posted

    Hello dilkenny

    Get your act together, I usd to work for a telephone company and used to have problems talking over the phone, you need theraphy and need it quick or you will loose your contract and the job you have strived for or you will end up in the back of beyond covered in muck and frozen to the bone.

    One way we usd to deal with this was to open up a line with someone you know and just talk, eventually you will becom used to the phone and making calls.

    We used t have a switch on internal lines and would talk around the office, we would make lists and numerical numbers that had to be sent and reiceived eventually we became proficient in dealing with complex calls and it became second nature to us.

    Personally with all the technology around today and talking or typing to everyone I just have problems with relating to your fear. You are talking or should I say typing to people a world away from you who you will never meet or see, you are in Canada, I am sitting on the border between Scotland and England, if you can converse with me I just cannot see the problem. If I was in Canada would that make any difference. Could it be you are frightened to get your new job started ??

    You know what you have to do. You have a lucrative work ehtic use it


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    • Posted

      Thanks Bob. No I'm not scared to talk to people in general.

      When I get going sometimes I overwhelm people with information. Thats why my mentor calls me a "hotshot financial planner" thats not being boastful, its actually a rip off from the movie Shawshank redemption where the inmates all are intimidated by the guy until he does all their taxes and they learn to trust him. Thats me...if I get fired up I will try to teach you value investing, swing trading, options and infinite banking all in an hour. I'm very passionate about it and love to talk about it and teach people what I do.

      Trying to get people who will listen is another story. Thats where the telephone comes in. There are lots of ways to generate leads but as a newbie the telephone statistically is 6 times more powerful than social media, a website and mailouts combined. Its also far less expensive, which for a new business the marketing budget should be kept in check as a percentage of total revenue, so cold calling is really the way.

      After yesterday's breakdown I didnt work for the rest of the day. I decided to go to work with my mentor directly for at least 2 weeks. I figure there has to be a reason I am so afraid. Its not a normal fear, its absolutely paralyzing. Maybe its a skill that I simply don't have. Maybe it can be learned? I'm going to find out.

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