This article was originally published on Gen Y Girl on October 15th, 2013.
It was July. Hot. I was sitting on a curb in DC in business casual attire during my lunch break, sweating not only from the summer sun, but also from the decision I’d been rolling over in my mind for the past few weeks.
I wanted to leave my secure paycheck to start my own business. I wanted to do work that was meaningful and challenging and more ‘me’.
“What will you do if you fail?” my coach asked me.
“I’ll probably get a different job to fill in,” I replied.
I decided soon thereafter to take the plunge and give it a go. I handed my boss my two week’s notice, and I tasted sweet, sweet freedom.
Then reality set in.
I didn’t know what to do with my new workdays to be effective as a business owner. I didn’t know how to get clients. And I wasn’t figuring it all out fast enough.
As my savings began to dwindle, I realized I was up against the worst case scenario my coach had asked me about. I was failing.
What’s interesting is that I didn’t wind up homeless or penniless or in any of the other dreadful fantasies our fears can create.
Instead, I picked up my head and did what I’d previously told my coach.
I found another job to cover my living expenses. It was a position with some flexibility and a clear end time, both of which I hoped would provide me with the opportunity to learn how to run my business successfully.
It worked. I eventually reached the point of once again working full-time on my business. Only this time, I had a few years of part-time experience under my belt to inform my actions. Instead of wondering what I ought to be doing with my days to grow my business, I had overflowing to-do lists of ideas I wanted to try and tactics I had learned.
When I look back on my younger self, the one who jumped into the unknown so hopefully and, yes, so naively, I have to shake my head and smile. I shake my head because she was blatantly unaware of what she didn’t know. But I smile because of her courage to take a leap, to risk failure, and to act on pursuing her dreams. She understood that she might be making a mistake, but she was willing to try anyway, to learn, and to revise her plans as needed.
That first step of leaving an ill-fitting job in pursuit of my own business set me on a course that I never gave up on. I stuck with my dream even when it looked like it had failed. And while mine isn’t an immediate fairy tale success story, it is a story of success through persistence and perseverance.
So go ahead, take a risk.
Ask yourself the questions my coach asked me.
What’s the worst that can happen? What are you going to do if that worst case scenario happens?
And then follow-up with the question that matters most.
What are you going to do after that?
My answer was to keep trying, and that’s what made all the difference.