What if everything you imagine is going to happen never happens?
What will you have missed out on?
“I am an old man and I have known a lot of problems, but most of them have never happened.” -Mark Twain
Many entrepreneurs and business owners have had to take risks and put themselves outside their comfort zone to get where they are. They had to stop asking “what if” long enough to jump in, despite their nerves and/or fear. Sometimes it is better to be able to say “I did it and this happened …” than to say “I didn’t and I don’t know what would have happened.”
Are you letting fear hold you back? Do you have “what ifs…” that are haunting you?
Consider these 7 questions to help you overcome your fear. As you answer, you might want to write out your answers, focusing on the first things that come to mind without thinking too much. This is more about figuring out what is holding you back from living your entrepreneurial dream and what thoughts are haunting you, than about the quality of your answers. As long as it makes sense to you.
- What is the worst that can happen? Define your biggest nightmare about what could happen, whether as part of working for yourself, starting a business, or even just starting something new. Whatever doubts, fears, or “what ifs” that scare or worry you the most, write them down.
- Could you fix it? How would you regain control? Define what steps you could take to get back on track or fix the issue if the worst happened. It might be easier than you feared.
- What are the most likely benefits? Now that you have thought about the worst that can happen, think about the most likely benefits or positive scenarios. These could be personal and internal, like confidence or self-esteem, or professional and external, like business growth or networking or living your entrepreneurial dream finally. Then consider: What effect will the most likely outcomes have on a scale of one to ten? How likely are you to get at least a moderately positive result? Are there people less qualified than you who have done this and succeeded?
- If you had to start a new path today (ie. if you got fired from your job, your business plan flopped, etc.), what would you do to regain financial control of your life? As you imagine this scenario, answer questions one through three again. With the many ups and downs of the business world and economy, it is likely that you will have to pivot if not completely start over at least once, if not many times, as a business owner and entrepreneur. So, it is good to have a backup and a “reset” plan. You may also consider the scenario of leaving your job to try other options, asking yourself how you might return to your current career path in case of absolute necessity.
- What are you putting off out of fear? What we fear the most to do is usually what we need to do the most. That phone call, that conversation, actually starting your business, whatever. It is probably the one thing that because of the fear of unknown consequences I preventing you from doing what you need to do. Define what is the worst that can happen to you, accept it and do it. Make the decision to do one thing every day that scares you.
- How much is it costing you (financially, emotionally, and physically) to postpone acting? While we often get stuck worrying about the possible disadvantages of acting, it is also important to weigh the grave cost of not If you don’t pursue what excites you, where will you be in a year, five years, or ten years? How will you feel in ten years if you let that time pass doing what you know does not satisfy you? If you see yourself ten years from now and you know with 100% certainty that it is a path of disappointment and regret, then not acting may be the greatest risk of all.
- What are you waiting for? If you can’t answer this question without resorting to the typical excuse of “it’s just not the time,” the answer is simple: you are scared, just like the rest of the world. And that’s okay. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you’ve answered the other 6 questions (assessed the cost of failing to act, determined the improbability of most missteps and chances of remedying them, and realized the benefits of acting), then look back at your answers and you’ll probably see that it’s worth it to act now. Just do it, to quote Nike.
If you are honest with yourself and ponder these 7 powerful questions, then they can help you achieve what fear has made you put aside for so long. It may not be easy, it rarely is, but it CAN be done and you just might excel at it.
Don’t dwell in “what if’s.” Don’t let fear stop you. Grab hold of your desire to take your life, your company, your career, your dreams, your emotions, to another level. Create a better future for yourself.