Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Scott Dinsmore of ReadingForYourSuccess.
Have you ever been in a situation you weren’t too proud of, but haven’t done anything about it? Maybe you’re in that situation right now.
The most real example to so many of us is being in a job we don’t love (or might even despise). We know we could be spending our time in a more fulfilling way that leverages our natural strengths and likely adds more to society. But then nothing gets done about it.
Why don’t more people pursue their dreams?
I constantly talk to friends, colleagues, clients and even your average person on the street who tell me they’d love to do this or that. And they say it with awesome passion in their eyes.
Then I ask when they plan to start or why they haven’t yet. Immediately their physiology changes-their posture slumps, their voice quiets and their face tightens. You can immediately see it. And the excuses begin: I won’t make enough money, I may lose my job, it might fail. The list goes on.
No matter the excuse, they are all rooted in the same emotion: Fear.
It’s so easy to think about the worst possible outcome of what we’re attempting. And then as we focus on it, the fear intensifies. We develop all kinds of details and stories of how bad it could be. Then we attach emotions to them. Most likely the fear of failure and not being enough. All of a sudden our worst case feels so likely that we’d never think of giving our dream career a shot.
What’s really your worst case scenario?
To have a shot at taking that leap and living our dreams, we must take the time to conceptualize our realistic worst case scenario. Is it really that you are going to end up on the street starving or become unemployable? I doubt it. These are extremes and rarely apply. We develop them in our mind to keep us from going out on a limb. We may think we do it to protect us from failure but all it really does is sabotage us from reaching our highest goals.
Let’s say for example you’re working for a big corporation and you have a dream to spin off and start your own nutritional services business (or whatever). The initial thinking usually goes as follows: If I quit my job and try to go off on my own, it might not work. I might fail. If I fail it will ruin my credibility and I will no longer have a job. People will see me as a failure. If I don’t have a job then I won’t be making money and I won’t be able to support myself or my family. If I don’t have an income, then I will end up starving on the streets.
Before you know it, trying to start a business has turned into starving with your family on the streets. Our minds have linked one to mean the other. Sounds wild but this thinking is all too common. Even if we don’t think that specifically, a lot of our fears are subconsciously rooted in these types of outcomes.
Your worse case is often your current case.
Now let’s see what our honest worst case scenario is. I quit my job to start my business. The worst case is still that it fails, but what does that really mean for me? Well, if I left a good impression on my boss (as you always should) then he’ll likely be happy to take me back or at least refer me to someone else in need in the industry.
I still have my previous skills and could likely find a job doing something similar to what I was doing in the past. I also have a unique story of attempt and failure that has made me a better, smarter and more experienced contributor to society. Now my worst case has become my current case. As soon as you realize that, the world is at your fingertips. How could you not give it a try?
Sure maybe you can’t get a job in your previous industry right away. You’re forced to try something new, pick up some odd jobs or even move in with family or friends for a bit. Since you were unhappy to begin with, trying just about anything else would be an improvement. These are not awful things. They will humble you. They will make you grow. That’s good. Especially when you realize the trade off is doing something you hate. Getting out of that is worth almost any cost.
Taking chances is all about risk management. It’s possible to set things up so the risks become minimal. Such as:
Ask to work part time so you can get a start on your new idea
Ask for a sabbatical or unpaid leave to test the waters
Make yourself incredibly valuable at your current job so they’d love to have you back
Find someone else doing what you love and find a way to work with them
Often once you get an idea for your true worst case scenario, it can become your best source of inspiration.
How to turn your supposed worst case into your most powerful motivator
Be honest. Use the above scenario as an example. How bad could it really be? What options do you have if things don’t work out? Remember, you are smart. You are skilled. And if you’re going after your dream, you have passion on your side. That is unstoppable.
Know your alternatives. List all the places and people you could potentially work with if things don’t work out. Get in touch with them. Form relationships. Let them know what you’re doing and possibly begin working with them from the start. Most will admire your courage.
Know the details. How much do you really need to make to get by? I’m not talking about what your used to making. How much can you make from your new gig and how quickly? Knowing the facts often takes off a ton of pressure. You’ll quickly realize you don’t have to have your monthly housekeeper, weekly fancy dinners or too frequent shopping trips. We need very little to actually comfortably get by. This is the perfect excuse to simplify life a bit.
Find new models. If you’re embarking on a new path, you need to find new models and mentors for success. As I began to take my writing and coaching more seriously, I searched out people like Jonathan who have found tremendous success and fulfillment in it. This helps keep the fire alive and learn what you don’t know.
Build your story. Life is about your story. It’s not about the things you check off your list. It’s about the person you become as you succeed or fail in your various endeavors. Be confident that summoning the courage to go after a dream, even if followed by a temporary failure, still makes you a stronger person. If things don’t work out and you head back to the work force, your story is what will ensure your reentry. Every one of us has a story worth telling. No matter your life situation, engage people with it and every experience will be an asset.
It all serves us.
If you haven’t already, adopt the belief that everything happens for a reason. There’s no other empowering way to see it. If you fail, it’s because there are better things in store for you. If you succeed then you’re granted a taste of your dream. Both are just as empowering. Know this to your core. Taking a leap requires some faith-in yourself, your creativity, your ingenuity an in the world.
Life is full of reasons to not get out on a limb and experience your life vision. If you prepare for your worst case scenario, you’ll find it makes the odds of it happening much less likely. And in the event that it does occur, you’ll be ready.
We all have dreams. Be one of the few to make them reality. Once you realize your biggest fears of failure will likely leave you right back where you started, they become your best motivation to go out and tackle the world. When your worse case is your current case, what do you really have to lose?
It is life’s toughest challenges that serve us most to grow and experience further enjoyment. Embrace the challenge and experience life on your terms.
About the author: Read more inspiring articles from Scott Dinsmore at Reading For Your Success where he is committed to helping you discover your own path to personal and career success, on your terms, through “action-based reading.” Subscribe here for Scott’s future articles.
photo courtesy of KatieL366