What’s Your Worst-Case Scenario?

When you want to quit your job and work for yourself full-time, it’s easy to fear that the worst will happen after you take the plunge. What’s “the worst” generally look like? Let’s see here…

  1. Your business idea doesn’t take off
  2. You go broke
  3. You get into debt
  4. You lose your home
  5. You have to move back in with your parents
  6. You have to get another job


Well, with the exception of #4, I’VE DONE ALL OF THOSE. (I only haven’t done #4 because I never had enough money to buy a home in the first place.)

Why am I telling you this? Because after all of that, I’m still okay. I’m still plowing ahead, still doing what I love to do and still finding a way to make it happen.

image51Is it scary? Yes! It’s absolute terrifying at times. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. If you like to feel safe and certain, this is not the lifestyle for you. But in my case, even though all of the worst-case scenarios listed above have take place, my life still goes on.

What this means is that no matter what happens after you quit your job, chances are that you will be okay, too.

When I interviewed Marcela Gomez, the President of the Hispanic Marketing Group in Nashville, TN, she had a similar story. When she lost one of her big clients a few years ago, she couldn’t afford to stay in her home any more. After having a thriving and successful business for years, all of sudden, Worst Case Scenario #4 was rearing its ugly head.

She told me that when things like that happen to her, she does a Worst-Case Scenario Exercise. For 30 seconds, she travels down the deep dark rabbit trail of the absolute worst-case scenario that could possible happen in her life if everything fell to pieces. For that 30 seconds, she plays out the most negative outcome that could take place. She shared that her worst-case scenario was that she loses her home, closes her business, and has to move down to Miami to live with her sister until she can pick herself back up.

Once she’s painted a picture of this scenario in her mind, she realizes that she’s going to be okay whether this comes into fruition or not. If she has to move to Miami and live by the beach, well, life could be a lot worse.

Today, she’s living in a hip condo in mid-town and still running a successful business. The worst-case never played out.

So here are a few things to keep in mind…

(1) Do you own Worst-Case Scenario Exercise. For 30 seconds (and no longer), conjure up your vision of the absolute worst that could happen if you quit your job and start your own business. Does it include something that I listed above? Better? Worse? Would you be living in a box on the side of the road? Would you be living on unemployment? What’s the worst that you see happening?

After 30 seconds, come back to reality and leave your worst-case scenario behind. Then read and consider the following…

(2) Remember that the worst-case scenario doesn’t typically come to pass. Humans seem built to worry. Thanks to our animal instincts, we always contemplate the worst instead of the best. We sit around and fear we’re going to fail, go broke, lose our assets, etc. We don’t think, “Man, if I make that much money with my business, I’m going to have to buy a big house with a big garage so that I can park my brand new car.” No, instead we go to negative town and hang out there.

The truth is that the worst case scenario that you thought up just now typically will never come to pass. In other words, people tend to spend all their time and energy worrying about things that never ever happen. It’s a complete waste of mental space. If worrying about it helped changed the outcome for the better, then by all means, worry away. But it doesn’t.

What’s going to happen in your life is going to happen whether you agonize over it or not, so I vote save yourself the mental energy and let those worries go and realize that the worst probably will never come to pass.

(3) If the worst-case scenario occurs, you will be okay. As I said above, multiple aspects of my worst-case scenarios have played out over the years, and I’m still okay. I have had business ideas that didn’t take off. I’ve gone broke. I’ve gotten into credit card debt. I’ve moved back in with my parents (a few times). I’ve gotten a part-time job to pay the bills and checked the Craigslist job postings more times than I’d like to admit. But I’m still here, I’m still moving forward and I’m still in the game.

After you’ve created your worst-case scenario in your mind, do what Marcela did and realize that even if this scenario does occur that it’s probably not so bad. You’re going to be okay. If you have to sell your home and buy a small condo or rent an apartment, you’re going to be okay. If you have to get another job, you’re not any worse off than you are now. If you lose your money, you can make more money.

Life will go on. I know this from experience and I’m betting you know this, too, from everything that’s happened in your life. So don’t be afraid to quit your job and take the plunge. Chances are, it will all work out great no matter what.

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