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You want to make a bold change in your life but your options feel risky.

What if you leave your job and can’t find another one?  What if you start your own business and get sick without health insurance?  What if your spouse gets tired of supporting your dream and leaves?

There will always be two choruses: those who think you’re crazy and those who advise “everything will be fine.”

Deep down, you want to listen to the voices of encouragement.  You want to give more room in your life to the positive instead of the negative.

But the negatives are pretty persuasive.

The truth is, neither group has any better idea what’s going to happen than you do.

They don’t know how committed you are or your level of grit.  They don’t know what skills you have, which you still need to develop, and how those compare to others in the field.  They don’t know your network or how much they love you.

Instead of asking whether bad things will happen if you make a change, ask how capable you are to deal with those events should they occur.

I recently wrote a post for Man vs Debt called How to Save Money Doing What You Love.  In the comments, one reader said

You’re right, I really shouldn’t use my finances as an excuse to stay in a soul-crushing career, but for now I have to put my head down so I can pay off some debt and accrue some extra savings before I take the leap. It’s hard not to be practical with a mortgage and a baby on the way.

He sounds a bit sheepish, at least to my ear, as if I was trying to convince him personally to leave his job and start his career anew tomorrow.  But in fact, he and I completely agree: practical is good.  Make a plan to pay off your debt … and do it.  Make a plan to sell or rent your house, or build up emergency savings, or provide stability for your spouse while they try something new.  Whatever your obstacle, make a plan to deal with it and do it.

But don’t mistake being practical for never changing.

Because there’s a hidden assumption here we have to address: no one can tell you everything is going to be okay even if you attempt to keep everything the same.

Several of my clients were unexpectedly laid off while going through my No Regrets Career Academy.  Career change went from feeling risky to essential.  They were glad they’d invested the time in developing a plan for change.

Being static is just as risky as changing.

So plan for the potential of an opportunity as much as you do its failure.

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27 Responses to No One Can Tell You Everything is Going to be Okay

    • On
    • May 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm
    • Barbara
    • Said...

    You are so right. Nothing ventured nothing gained comes to mind, BUT have a plan.

    On the flip side I think many people use their financial situation or family responsibilities as an excuse to avoid potential failure.

    Personally I know I was never able to give my family what they really needed, a happy wife and mother, when I was miserable in my work. In those cases taking a chance on something I loved to do seemed worth the risk. The old saying, ‘when mama ain’t happy nobody’s happy’ comes to mind.
    b

    • I found the same thing, Barbara. I’m much better able to live up to my own visions as a mother/spouse when I’m fulfilled by my work.

    • On
    • May 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm
    • Ritu
    • Said...

    Change is such a scary word for a lot of people, but I agree, no change can be just as scary. The thing is that no change *sounds* so much more comforting and secure.

    Bottom line is that change WILL happen, often without our permission. But knowing that, as I grow older (and hopefully wiser;), I place more value on having a plan than fretting on what outcome change will bring. Ont he other hand, NO change would be so boring!

    I find the concept easy to understand, but a little more challenging to apply ;)

    • I’m always a bit aware of the fact that I LIKE change, and thus my perspective on the matter may be biased. That’s why I love sharing these ideas with the community and getting feedback. :)

  1. Hi Jennifer,

    You are right we always need a plan. When i got my divorce, I had a plan before I did it. At that time i was a Mary Kay consultant. I built my business up and than got the divorce, becaue I knew that it was going to be on my shoulders to provide for 3 kids.

    Now when I started with my website, I had lost my job, but was lucky enough to have a spouse that told me to go for it, even thought computers really were not my think. I have learned a lot and keep learning. No I am not where I want to be yet, so he can retire, but all good things take time.

    Like you say you need a plan, but you can’t wait until all the lights are green, this does not happen and before you know it the “I wish I would have’s come.”

    Make a plan and work part time around your new love if you have to and build it before you let go of the weekly pay check.

    i always say, “Where there is a will there is a way.”
    Dreams are for a reason!
    Blessings to you, Jennifer and thanks,
    Debbie

    • Debbie
      Yes, some situations so clearly need a plan, but our emotions often get in the way. I think your “all good things take time” attitude is helpful too. We are resilient if we allow ourselves to be!

  2. My favorite line in this post is: Instead of asking whether bad things will happen if you make a change, ask how capable you are to deal with those events should they occur.

    For me, this turns the mind toward resourcefulness, looking at strengths and weaknesses, and a Can-Do attitude. All of which give confidence when change happens—planned or not.

    • Thanks, Shawn. Mental reframes are something I try to specialize in, so I take that as a compliment. :)

      • Great specialty! I can see it now…

        (Announcers voice) You can have the best plan in the world but if your frame of mind is “I’ll never be able to pull that off” then it’s time to call in the… (music buildup) mental reframe specialist! =)

    • On
    • May 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm
    • Elizabeth
    • Said...

    >>Being static is just as risky as changing.

    This is the truest statement I have ever seen. Wow! Simple and powerful. Thank you!

    • So glad it resonated with you, Elizabeth. That’s my job as a blogger, after all. LOL

    • On
    • May 15, 2012 at 11:32 pm
    • jo
    • Said...

    Hi Jen Annabel Candy told me that we are interested in similar stuff so am now an excited subscriber. I loved this post – I decided that it was time to take the plunge into new adventures last year. I launched my blog and online art galleries this year. I sorted out the practicalities before I started (kinda sorta). It is early days for me (and was initially really scary) but do you know, even if I bomb in this new venture I will never regret having given it a go, learned stuff and met great people on the journey. :) Jo

    • Great to meet you! As I always say, a friend of Annabel’s is a friend of mine.

      Totally agree with you, and that’s how I looked at starting my own business too. It was worth giving it a go, even if it failed. I HAD to try. And I’m so glad I did!

  3. Jen this post is a good reality check. I absolutely love it. Allow me to quote one my favorite books, “Anybody can wish for riches, and most people do, but only a few know that a definite plan, plus a burning desire for wealth, are the the only dependable means of accumulating wealth”. Like you have said…whatever your obstacle, make a plan to deal with it and do it. Which is so true.

    Veeh.

    • In my family, I’m known as “The Planner,” usually with some frivolity. However, it’s usually the missing link when it comes to our desire to improve our situation. We accept, wrongly, that if we can’t do it today we can’t do it at all.

  4. Pingback: Link Love 5/18/12 | Cordelia Calls It Quits

  5. Static leads to lethargy and inaction just as much as it drives some to risky, impulsive behaviors, indeed.

    The truth is that so many individuals resist change. For those willing to suspend certainty and instant gratification, small incremental changes will do the trick until the mortgage becomes manageable and the baby more independent.

    Sadly, those who are stuck will value blaming others more than doing something about it. In business, I’m constantly searching for the intrepids. Even the small intrepids :).

    • If this blog had a like button for comments, this would get it! Thanks for such a thoughtful response. Great add to the discussion–I especially like that last line: I’m constantly searching for the intrepids, even the small intrepids. Yeah!

  6. Hi Jen,
    Life is too short to wait for the perfect time. There is no such thing and security of any kind is an illusion.

    When you have a soul-crushing job that pays well it is almost a curse. But obstacles are only in our mind.
    We set ourselves up by automatically expecting the worse but it’s just as easy to learn to expect the best.

    • Yes, I think that’s the big myth, that money will set you free. It doesn’t. People tell me they can’t afford to change jobs regardless of income. It’s mindset (and careful planning) that sets us up for success.

  7. I’ll be quitting my job in a month. you’re right, no one can or will tell me that everything is going to be okay. I’m scared at the thought of not having that regular income, but I also never felt so relieved and happy at the thought of finally doing what I love.
    I guess it’s easier for me because I’m single. It’s like a release because I’m not known for being the risk-taker in the family. But I’ve been so “trapped” for so long that I just need to go for it.

    • Glori,
      Wow! Big news! Sounds like you are in a good place and have that quiet confidence which is so necessary. Please check back in and let me (us) know how things are going as you make your transition. We all want to help you succeed!

        • On
        • May 18, 2012 at 9:46 am
        • Sarah
        • Said...

        Wow, Glori! Me too! I’m definitely scared at some level, but I know I’ve prepared the best I can. I’ve been trying to focus on all the resources I have and sources of support and other times when I’ve done challenging things rather than worrying about bad things that could happen. Cheers to both of our success! And great article, Jen – this was very helpful.

        • I’m so glad this could be there for you when you needed it, Sarah. That’s the best a writer can do. Now you just keep doing your best, and we’ll definitely be here to support you every step of the way. Hugs!

  8. Hi Jen – Having a plan and some savings is a great thing, it’s very hard to recoup financial losses, so it’s good to have a pan to navigate a change in career. good stuff.

    • On
    • June 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm
    • Andi-Roo
    • Said...

    I loved this post because it was exactly what I needed to read right at this very moment in time. My hubz & I are so excited about blogging — we enjoy the time we spend together doing complimentary work toward a common goal, & seeing what we are building slowly grow is like watching our child blossom. Unfortunately, both our families think we are “nuts”. My sister thinks I’m “consumed” with “a nonsense side-hobby”, & my hubz’s brother thinks I need to get a “real” job. I’m so glad my hubz is supportive of my writing, but it’s tough fighting status quo, static extended family, traditional methods… *ugh*… I could go on & on. Anyway, thanks for giving me the “chin up” I so badly needed! :)

    • Sorry to be so late in replying, Andi. It IS hard to fight the status-quo, esp. when it’s family. I find the solution is to limit your time with those people until you reach some level of traditional success with your new venture. Everyone thought I was crazy to start blogging (some people honestly laughed at me), but hardly anyone says that now. In fact, some of my old co-workers and bosses now use me as a consultant for their social media projects. I’ve proved myself and that a big source of pride for me. So hang in there!