The Job of Your Life with Karen Schaffer

Get out of your rut and find your passion

Follow up thoughts on Self Trust and the WORST Case Scenario

Posted by Karen on February 17, 2010

I got a great comment on the Self Trust post I put up yesterday, and I started writing a comment response. By the end of three paragraphs it occurred to me it was a post in itself…

So here’s Caryn Reddick’sย comment:

Related to #1-4 above, I also recommended that you consider whether or not you are prepared to handle the โ€œworst case scenarioโ€. In other words, if you take a risk, and it doesnโ€™t pan out, would you be willing to accept the worst thing that could happen. If so, the risk might seem less risky. Often the worst case scenario isnโ€™t as bad as you think, once you really give yourself time to consider it. Again, great post.

Thank you Caryn for adding in that thought about the “worst case scenario” (for a related post by Caryn on her Original Success blog, click hereย it’s a very thoughtful corollary article that has great suggestions on how to deal with career-related fear).

Here was my “reply” comment that I’ve posted here instead.

A lot of people can’t even stand the thought of, say “wasting” money on a degree or further education or taking all these risks to put themselves out there and changing their mind. There are all kinds of obstacles that come out of, as you point out, fear. And fear is a very normal part of taking a risk into a new territory.

People often talk about “money” and “time” being the obstacles but there are others, such as wanting to get it “right” or being afraid you won’t really be passionate about it once you get there. In my book The Job of your Lifeย I devoted an entireย chapter on “Stories That Can Stop You” and how to think about them differently, including money & time.

Still, at the bottom of all these fears around making a decisionย is self trust. And Caryn draws attention to an important aspect of a big decision: can you trust yourself to handle the worst case scenario?

1) If you can’t even play it out for yourself by envisioning the worst case – slowly, step by step and grounded in reality (if it’s flashing before your eyes and you’re already going “no, no, no” that doesn’t count!) – then you’re not ready to make a decision. You have to be able to walk through the moments of what can happen, to say “What happens if I know that I don’t like it the first week on the job or the first day of class? What will my choice be? How will I decide what to do then?” or “What will I do if I work hard for six months and I’m not making money at the business? How will I live? How will I know to stop and do something else?”ย 

2) I also find that people who can move forward have developed a strong sense of resilience and ability to re-frame their experiences positively. If you can say “Well, that experiment didn’t work out, but I learned so much” and then really do the digging to figure out what you learned, there is always something that comes out of the experience. And often it’s the stepping forward, the readiness to take an action and show that commitment to the world, that attracts the attention of others and …a lot of times… the “real” path starts to show up.ย The career path you end up in may beย wildly different from what you expected – or only one degree away, but it emerges in part because you were out there declaring yourself.

3) This is not at all to say “push forward” when you’re not ready to make a decision. Self trust is about safety even as you’re reaching for something new. It may be about finding ways to explore the worst case scenario in a safe way – such as talking it through with a career coach, using energy work like EFT or Focusing, or finding ways to take smaller risks first. My example is that before I decided to apply for my Masters I took a course at the school I wanted to attend over the summer because I wasn’t sure. By the second day of class I was absolutely sure it was the right place for me and applied for the fall semester.

4) And yet at the end of the day, all you have is what you know about yourself – your strengths, your passions, your values, and a commitment to moving forward. You can support yourself in all kinds of ways, but in the end to move forward you need to trust yourself.

In Focusing training ( one of the things they say is: “You can only move as fast as your slowest part”. By sitting down and listening to the slower parts of you, the ones that are reluctant to make the decision, the ones that keep flashing the worst case scenario but are too afraid to interact with it and work through the feelings it creates…those are the parts you need to beย with. Sitting quietly with the parts of yourself that need to be heard doesn’t mean you won’t move forward – it means you will be able to move forward with all of yourself trusting that you can listen to yourself and adapt to whatever is happening in the present.

4 Responses to “Follow up thoughts on Self Trust and the WORST Case Scenario”

  1. Carly said

    Self Trust – how simple and how true. It reminds me of when I made the decision to quit my corporate job to launch my own business. So many people would ask if I had a plan or if I thought it was a good idea to leave all the “stability” of a “good” job for self-employment in a down economy. And the answer was that I trusted in myself. I trusted that this was the path I was meant to choose. I trusted that I would be successful. And by successful I don’t mean that I’m instantly making six figures and beating off potential clients with a stick (although that would be nice!). By successful I mean that I will feel strong. I will be using my strengths and letting the world see the best of me. And if the day came where that ceased to be true, I trusted that I could (and would) find a new path to take to reclaim that success.

    So not sure you were looking for my story but this is all I could think of when I read this. I was reminded that self trust is more than a thing to “get” or “do.” Its a state of being that radiates from your core. And when you feel it, you know it. And the truth couldn’t be any plainer or clearer.

    Thanks for helping me re-connect with my self trust Karen!

  2. Karen said

    That’s a perfect story Carly. I particularly like the part where you said “if the day came that ceased to be true, I trusted that I could (and would) find a new path to reclaim that success”.

    We must have trust in ourselves not that we’ve made the “perfect” choice and then must stick to it at all costs or fail, but that we’ve made a good choice, that feels right, right now with all the information we have…and we have the power to change it at any time, with more information and insight.

    Ah…I feel another post coming on…

  3. Caryn said

    Hi Karen and Carly,

    I found myself saying “Exactly!” a lot as I read your comments. I am a chronic class-taker. I have probably taken more classes in more subjects than anyone else I know. I always think about how to incorporate the new subject into my life or business. It drives friends and colleagues crazy – they are constantly saying things like: “Now you are studying improv comedy! I thought you were into neuroscience!”

    I actually giggle when I hear these types of comments. To me, building a life and career isn’t about choosing something and sticking with it forever. It is about building layers of interests and skills that make me happy and make a difference. And, to go back to Carly’s point, I trust that I have the ability to make it work, whatever it is.

    Okay, I’m jumping off my soapbox now… ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. galfromaway said

    And yet at the end of the day, all you have is what you know about yourself โ€“ your strengths, your passions, your values, and a commitment to moving forward. You can support yourself in all kinds of ways, but in the end to move forward you need to trust yourself.

    It’s funny… my fiance pointed this out to me, and lately it’s really been creeping back into my mind. I seem to have a lot of confidence in what I do outside of work, yet when it comes to my actual job there’s a lot of self-doubt and fear. It doesn’t help that I’ve had a couple of tough job experiences in the past 10 years, but it feels like I’m making excuses and fighting something that I’m not sure what it is but keeps creeping back. And when I read about people who take chances and find their passion and their niche, I feel a little bit of envy there…

    At any rate, I’m glad to have read this and been triggered to sit with whatever that “creeping back something” is, and see if I can sort out just what’s not fitting right with me.

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