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Back when Clarity on Fire was brand new, Rachel and I were seriously hustling.
(And trust me, that’s definitely not a humble brag. I am NOT someone who likes to hustle. Even the word hustle feels gross to me. But there’s no better way to describe what life was like back then.)
We were working at full-time office jobs, going through an intensive coach-training program, and getting our business off the ground simultaneously.
I recently looked back at my Google calendar from those early days, and I’m astounded by how jam-packed it is. I genuinely don’t understand how I juggled all of that!
So it’s no wonder I desperately wanted to quit the full-time gig and give all my energy to Clarity on Fire. There were so many days when I was this close to walking in my boss’ office and giving my notice semi-impulsively.
But I was terrified to take the leap. All these fears kept creeping up, and they all got back to the same scary question: What if I gave all my energy to this business … and it failed?
It was then that I had a realization that changed everything and convinced me to give this thing a shot:
ARE YOU ALREADY LIVING YOUR WORST-CASE SCENARIO?
When I thought about my answer to that scary “what if I fail?” question, I realized it wasn’t all that scary after all.
If I quit my job and focused on my business, and it didn’t work out … I’d probably just go back to working a steady full-time office job while I regrouped and started on a different idea.
Essentially, I’d go right back to doing what I was already doing.
Which meant that I was already living my worst-case scenario.
So best-case scenario, I would get to do what I love and make a career of it. And worst-case scenario, I would end up right back where I started.
It seemed like a no-brainer to me after that. Within a few weeks, I’d put in my notice and was on my way to full-time self-employment. (And the rest is history!)
A CLIENT OF MINE JUST HAD THE SAME REALIZATION
My client Jessica has been itching to move away from her hometown in Pennsylvania, and she just got a job offer in Austin.
She’s super excited, but also utterly terrified. Every time she considers accepting the offer and moving to Texas, all of these fears bubble up in her mind:
- I don’t know anyone in Austin. What if I’m lonely?
- What if I miss Pennsylvania more than I thought?
- What if I hate the weather?
- What if I feel like I don’t belong there?
- What if I lose touch with my friends back home?
So I asked her, “What happens if you take this job, move to Austin, and then realize it’s not the place for you? What would you do then?”
“Well,” she responded, “I’d probably just come back to Pennsylvania and get another job here. Honestly, I bet my current company would even hire me back.”
So I asked her:
IF YOU’RE ALREADY LIVING YOUR WORST-CASE SCENARIO, WHAT’VE YOU GOT TO LOSE??
With a few notable exceptions, most life decisions are reversible, at least to some extent.
So chances are, if you try something you’ve always wanted to do — or even just been curious about — and it blows up in your face, you can very likely go back to some version of your current situation.
- If you try for a new job in a totally different field and it doesn’t work out, you can very likely go back to doing what you’re currently doing.
- If you move across the country — or even internationally — and realize you made a mistake, you can always move back.
- If you start a business and it flops, you can always go back to working for someone else — or try another business idea!
- If you start a new exercise or nutrition plan and you hate it, you can simply go back to your old habits.
- If you decide to try a new class, a new dating website, or a new hobby and you realize it’s not for you, you can always back out.
I’m not saying that trying something, failing (or realizing it wasn’t right for you), and going back to where you started is ideal, especially if you’re not loving your current situation.
But if your worst-case scenario — as in, literally everything goes wrong and it’s a total flop (which is highly unlikely, BTW) — is that you end up right back where you are now … well, that’s really not so bad.
Yes, you might lose some time or money along the way, but you would also gain something infinitely more valuable: no regrets.
If you let your fear of the worst-case scenario prevent you from going after something you want, you’ll always have that voice in the back of your head wondering, “What if? What if I’d tried? What if it worked? How would my life be different now?”
But when you give it a shot, even if it crashes and burns, there’s a quiet inner satisfaction that comes from eliminating “what ifs” and living without regrets.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR WORST-CASE SCENARIO EVEN LESS LIKELY
I know some of you are like, “Yeah, yeah, Kristen, I hear you. I get that my worst-case scenario probably isn’t all that bad. But I can’t help it — I’m still scared to take the leap!”
Trust me, I get it. I’m about as cautious as they come, and I’m definitely a recovering worrywart. I’m as scared of change as anyone (even when I desperately want it).
So here are a few things to remind yourself of before doing something that feels risky.
Our human minds are designed for worst-case scenario thinking, and that makes sense from a purely survival-oriented, instinctual approach to life. It’s our brains way of trying to protect us in advance from danger.
But just because your mind is constantly worrying about all of the potentially disastrous outcomes, the likelihood of your worst-case scenario actually happening is very small.
Think about past times when you’ve worried about all the ways something could go wrong. How often did any of those horrible outcomes ever come to pass? My guess is very rarely … likely never.
BUT, in case you’re still freaking out about that highly unlikely worst-case scenario, there are a few things you can do to make it even lesslikely that your worst-case scenario ever actually happens:
- Do your research. Look into exactly what it would take for you to switch career paths. Go visit the city you’re considering moving to and explore an area where you might want to live. Ask if you can sit in on a class you’re considering taking before officially signing up. You can dip your toe into the water before diving in headfirst.
- Set up informational interviews. The very best way to find out what something — a career, a grad program, a city, an online business — is really like is to talk to people who are doing it! So set up a few coffee dates or phone calls with people who are on the other side of the decision you’re trying to make, and get your questions answered by someone who’s already living that reality.
- Make a solid plan. Figure out the first steps you’d need to take to make your idea happen, and break them up into the smallest, most manageable tasks possible. You don’t need to have a fully fleshed-out plan from A-to-Z — just a clear place to start, so you’re not overwhelmed by the enormity of the change you’re trying to make.
- Consider how you’ll handle potential difficulties along the way. If you already know what you’ll do if/when things don’t go according to plan, then it’s much more likely that you’ll stay the course even when challenges pop up along the way.
Now I want to hear from you. What do you really want to try, but you’re scared? In what ways are you already living your worst-case scenario? Share with me, in the comments!
Kristen (& Rachel)
IF YOU LIKED THIS YOU SHOULD ALSO LISTEN TO…
Change your bad habits (& get over your fear of failure) with Jessica Binder (March 2019)
Bust through any block with Ryan Mathie (January 2019)
Blog: When is it worth getting out of your comfort zone? (September 2018)
Blog: How you can stop freaking out about not knowing the future (April 2019)
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