This is Question 12 of 52 asked and answered in my book Your Biz Your Way.
“A lot of people are afraid because they have never tried anything different. My fear comes from having tried and it didn’t go to plan.”
What your question reminds me of is what they say in the financial world of investments:
Past performance is no guarantee (or even indication) of future results.
My first ever personal development book and one which would still be in my top 10 is Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers and it is still the only antidote to fear, that ghost who visits me in the night but tends to disappear again in the daytime when I feel like I can do something about my nameless dreads. Or when the full glare of daylight enables me to see them for the spectres they are.
I’m writing elsewhere in this book about fear for it is a recurring theme. I don’t think it ever goes away. Yes, you meet fearless people. But I’m not sure I’d want to be fearless, would you? I think there are some things it is healthy to be fearful of – sharks, snakes, texting while driving, going too near the edge on the top of a very tall building which doesn’t have appropriate safety barriers in place. Those fears are how I keep myself alive, I respect them.
There are a couple of things I’m fearful of (skiing, for starters) and at least one thing I wasn’t fearful enough of (the big waves at a beach on my favourite Caribbean island that took one of my nine lives and is still the stuff of nightmares).
What we don’t want to do is to become fearful of everything. And I can see how one or more bad experience, of the sort I know you have had, might make you more fearful that your next Big Gamble won’t pay off either. But hey, it’s a life and, as my brother always says, life is a dangerous sport. That’s if you play it right. That’s how we know we are alive, fully alive, not living a half-life.
When it comes to fears, by the way, if you have a logical brain and this wouldn’t frighten you too much, there’s a book I remember enjoying a lot called Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear by Dan Gardner in which he teaches that we are frightened of all the wrong things. We should be frightened of diabetes but we are not, we are frightened of heart disease and cancer. We should be frightened of driving a car, but we are not, we are frightened of flying. We get it all upside down. Things that are risky don’t appear so to us. Things that aren’t, do. Go figure. We are illogical creatures basically, or we simply haven’t studied enough science or stats.
Your concerns appear well-founded. One big bad experience (and some small ones too) does tend to put you off a bit and start to worry you more (than when you were younger and less concerned) about “getting it right” next time. But with your previous adventure, you did rather rashly jump off the metaphorical cliff. With your biz, it’ll be much gentler and you’ll be able to tweak as you go. There are ways you can protect yourself and make it feel safe for as long as you need that. Think of it like training wheels on your bike.
Here’s a final thought. How about re-framing fear to uncertainty? Uncertainty is a given with self-employment. It is something we adapt to, it becomes our new normal and, in the end, it feels good. Risks can be quantified and we can break them down into smaller ones if you feel you need to. I don’t think you will. You’ve learned from your Big Bad One, that’s what we are supposed to do. This time will go more easily and you will be fine either way, Brave Bird that you are. And this time I’m going to be here with you. And two always makes it feel easier, don’t you think? We’re in this together.
These are feelings. They are giving you useful feedback. And you can thank them for those messages and re-interpret them. Just because your Mum says you are to be careful before crossing the road, doesn’t mean she expects you to get run over. Take care, that’s all. Take care.