This is a letter to anyone engaged In activities that persistently question their sanity.
I always check Reddit for content ideas. Some days ago, I found a question on a Subreddit, and it stayed with me for days until I did something about it.
It resonated with me because I saw it at a time when I was confused. Should I change my career again in one year? You see, I started my career in architecture but changed to freelance content writing, then switched to Search Engine Optimization, all within a year. Yet, I might soon be in school again, starting a career in Web Programming after all the self-studying I have done.
So when I saw that post, I couldn't stop asking myself questions. What if I fail? What if I never become professional enough to make good money to sustain the life I dream of having?
I read the helpful answers on the subreddit. Days passed, and the question persisted until I began to write.
Now, this is a version of what I wrote for all of us who are worried about a journey we have just started, either that is running a startup, changing careers, or working the thin and scary line between optimism and despair.
First, cheers… for wanting more out of your life than what you have at the moment.
If you have lived on this earth for twenty-five years, some things are obvious to you. Bees sting. Snakes bite. A pond filled with crocodiles is a dangerous playground. So you don't have to do something stupid and expect your story to be different. You don't have to jump into things blindly, thinking it's safe. Instead, get into things with the knowledge of the risks, obstacles, and benefits. If not, step back and try again only if you have done your homework.
At some point along the line, you would come across people, shallow-thinkers, people who played things safe, people who would consider you insane for dreaming too large. Why would he want to be great?
This problem is a better one to have. Physical-mind battles are better than the inner voice that keeps you in your comfort zone forever. Do you know why? Unlike haters and saboteurs, the inward limitations you put on yourself follow you everywhere you go, even when you sleep.
The thing that makes you ask that question, what if I fail, is the fear of traveling for too long on a road that might not lead you to glory. Sadly, this isn't a game. There is glory, a prize, but they aren't permanent. And you should be the judge of what it would look like. Not your parents. Not your society. After you got out of college or university, you might have realized this truth and asked, what next? When you get the job, you will ask the same thing again and again till you die. What's next? What's next?
You alone understand your desires and the challenges you have endured.
No one has a perfect idea of how to navigate life. What seems like an ideal life only looks like that when you look back. A good life is usually boring and mundane for some parts of each day. Life still involves activities like tying shoelaces, deciding what to eat, and going to the toilet. So while you are embarking on a journey or taking a project, one thing you might ask yourself is, "what am I getting out of this after the boring stuff?"
At every moment of my life, I know I am choosing the kind of future, startup, or growth I want. It's not different from walking around the city and looking for a restaurant. It's more than just eating, after all. Is the experience worth it? Would I recommend it? When it is time to leave, I would like to say, wow, that was a great experience. Your life is more than the end goal, the imagined final destination. Stop, ask yourself, will I enjoy this journey? Will it lead me to where I want to go?
I know the type of life I want to live. You do, too. Mine involved working remotely, building things, understanding the limitations that come with being creative, and playing around it, like I would break the rules.
I started learning SEO in early 2021 because it's possible to work remotely — travel, earn and work all at once. Life could be a merge of work and living. When your work is part of how you want to live, work-life balance seems like an interesting topic.
I know the kind of experience I wanted, and I signed up for that, just like you are doing or about to do. Hopefully, things work for me.
It's hard to fail. My definition of "failure" is so low that it looks impossible. When I hear the word, my mind goes to the lowest possibilities, like losing all my money and living on the streets. So it makes my risk-taking process come with a small saving in case things get out of hand. Yet, the feeling is still there.
If you ask the same question again, what if I fail? Try to get your picture of failure.
Does it mean I don't get jobs? Then I would switch careers? I am not thirty yet.
Does it mean I don't get rich? Then I will try harder to get rich. I have an entire life to achieve that, and education is my footstool. So I keep investing in it.
I know the risk and what I have to do, and I have chosen a safer and less risky option that couldn't lead to losing everything.
Probably, you are defining failure according to society's terms.
Failure: not getting rich.
Failure: not getting to the top of The Forbes list of 30 under 30.
Failure: not selling your startup ideas to venture capitalists.
What if failure means something different, something more personal?
What if a failure doesn’t have to do with the amount of money you make?
What if your definition is something peculiar to your past? Maybe an event has happened to you, and you don't want that to repeat itself ever again.
Life, after all, is a mystery. You can’t accurately predict it, but you have to paddle your canoe with the hope that your final destination will be more desirable.
Define failure and success on your terms.
Don't get me wrong, the list above are examples of failures. But my definition of failure has shifted over the years. It includes sitting down in the same position without taking action, losing all the money I have, and living in one place my whole life.
What is your definition of failure?
The title of this article is what if I fail?
What if you fail? Can you picture it?
Now it's time to create your backup plan, and I suggest things you can do. I am not into a startup (yet), and I might not give you great pieces of advice like this one, but I hope my writing helps.
And when the question, what if I fail, revisits you in your dark times, that's your cue that something great can happen to you at the end of that journey if you go for it.