Risk. It’s something I can’t get out of my mind lately. Anyone who regularly reads my blog or knows me, understands I have high aspirations, goals, and hopes. The struggle I have is if I should continue teaching.
While this is a huge topic explorable over multiple posts, I’ll focus on one aspect for now: risk. What is the reality of me leaving my position? Is it foolish to leave the safety of a consistent job and benefits? Do I have what it takes to work for myself, finding clients and making a comparable/better living?
One thing I’ve been going over again and again is a podcast from Tim Ferriss- Episode 17: The Power of Negative Visualization. It’s based on an idea Ferriss pulls from stoic philosophy, to define your fears instead of your goals.
He breaks it down into 2 steps:
Make a 3-column list. In the first column write all of the worst-case scenarios that might happen because of the thing you’re debating to do. In the second column, write all of the things you can do to minimize the items in column one from happening. And in column three, map out the things you’d need to do to get back to the status quo. From there, you can weigh out the possible effects of the decision and if you could live with them.
Take a few days per month to practice the “worse case” scenario; eat, dress, and live as simply and modestly as possible. This will help you determine if you could live with the worse-case and put what’s truly important in perspective.
As for step 1, it’s pretty straight forward, the worst-case scenario is I attempt to work on my own, fail, drain our savings, possibly have to leave our other company, and end up getting a crappy job I hate to get us back on our feet. In order to avoid it, I would do everything I’m already doing except with more time and motivation than I currently have. In order to attain the status quo again, I would need to apply at some new schools. My resume is up-to-date and I received 2 more letters of recommendation on the quality of my teaching.
With step 2, I basically do that now anyways. We live very simply. I don’t care about material possessions. For example, my car. I drive a 2000 Toyota Camry with no hub caps and a smashed in hood from where I hit a deer. Is it a little embarrassing? Sure. But does it matter? Of course not.
So after analyzing the negatives of leaving my job, the risks are minimal and the potential gains are tremendous.
However, my decisions don’t boil down to lists.
I’ll explore this further in my next post. For now, how do process difficult decisions? Are you a list-maker or visualizer? Do you have some other trick I should know about? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Brian Frahm (@frahminator) says
I admire your approach Jeff. I don’t have near the risk tolerance you do at this point – my corporate job pays too well and the perks would be tough to part with. Great post.
Jeff Large says
Thanks Brian. This is only the beginning…
Ryan A says
Would you consider posting that ‘three column list’? Every first time entrepreneur has to go through this same exercise.
Jeff Large says
Ryan, are you asking me to post “my” list or “the” list?