Business scares me. There I said it.
I keep thinking I’m going to go back to a job. “One wrong move and you’re outta here pal” is the self-talk.
The recession scares the pants off me too. A few European banks are looking like they could fail. Add the threat of a nuclear war and you’ve got one hell of a sh*t sandwich. Right now I desperately need to hire a virtual assistant to help me with my work. Yet I can’t out of bloody fear.
The way we think about risks determines the decisions we will make. The good life lies on the other side of taking risks.
Here’s how to get better at it and embrace the unknown rather than fear it.
The reason millions of people quit their jobs
The turnover of people in jobs is nothing short of a religious experience.
The media mistakenly think it’s because people are pissed off with the conventional work model. Not really.
I quit my job 15 months ago. I did it because the fear of not knowing what it’d be like to work for myself was too great. Self-employment doesn’t work for everybody. Some people don’t have the psychology or discipline to do it.
But imagine living your whole life and not knowing if you could be bossless and still succeed. I want to know. Turns out millions of others do too.
Reframe the fear of the unknown into the fear of regrets. That’s how you find a secret stash of courage to take a risk and live for once.
We’re all scared
All of us fear the unknown.
It’s human nature. We want to be certain and we like to know where our three square meals a day will come from.
Illustrator Janis Ozolins has the strange answer:
When you want to make a bold move it’s normal to be scared.
The trick isn’t to escape the feeling and put your safety pants with brown stains on the rear back on. The answer is to do it scared. “Feel the fear and do it anyway” as Tony Robbins says.
If you’re not scared the opportunity is probably too minor anyway.
“Risk is a manmade concept that regulates the gap between average and exceptional”
Taking risks feels painful in the normal context.
When you place the idea in a blender and watch it get ripped to shreds, the situation looks different. Exceptional people become that way because they take risks and back themselves. Not because they’re smart or gifted.
If you don’t close the gap you never reach your potential. The saddest thing in life is wasted potential.
Past stability fools your future
I’m fascinated by mortgages.
Dry as hell, right? True. Hear me out. When you go to get a mortgage they do a lot of income checks. They look at your past paychecks. They assume that your past salary will be your future salary.
Why? That’s all they can go by. A lot of people do stay in similar jobs for most of their lives. It’s a decent guess.
The thing is you can be approved for a mortgage today and lose your job tomorrow. As real as that is, it’s not a factor in getting a mortgage.
Humans get so addicted to the stability of our current income that we take out more debt. We take on obligations. All we have, too, is the past as a data point for our financial future.
Then economic turmoil hits and jobs get cut. People have to pay their mortgages and can’t. They took on too much debt so they must exit. But everyone else is trying to exit at the same time.
So they lose a lot of money and can go bankrupt.
Past stability is a fool. You can’t count on it. All you can do is plan for it and assume everything turns to ashes a few times in your life.
We need the unknown to survive
Too often we avoid the unknown out of fear.
The trouble is we need both uncertainty and certainty to live a good life. Life is boring as hell when we know 99% of what will happen in advance. Uncertainty keeps things interesting.
It introduces some randomness that breaks our thought patterns and helps us access new ideas.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing — Helen Keller
You can always rebuild
I lost everything at 26. I lost it all again at 33.
Yet here I am with some success to talk of and a relatively good life. A close friend has been bankrupt four times. He wears it as a badge of honor.
“It’s not knowing I lost all my money. It’s knowing that I’ve learned the lessons already to make it all back again.”
He thinks of it as a game. He loves to go back to zero every now and then as he says it keeps him humble. What a wild way to think!
Yet it works. Once you know you can rebuild your life over and over again, suddenly, you stop fearing and start believing you can do anything.
That belief alone makes you unstoppable. Your success story becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when you think like that.
Why now is as good a time as any to give it a shot
Life isn’t as long as you think.
It all could end tomorrow. If you survive, it still ends quicker than you think. There’s no point waiting any longer. All you’re doing is wasting time that’s needed to turn your goal into a reality.
When we’re born we have nothing. When we die we have nothing. So what the bloody hell are you risking? Nothing. Nudda.
That’s what you’re afraid of after all. That if you take a risk you’ll lose something. There is no downside only upside.
So take a risk, face the unknown, and know that giving it a shot is far better than the pain of regrets.