There is one thing that stops almost everyone from leaving a job they don’t like and it isn’t money.
There is the fear of not being able to get another job. Then there’s the fear of not being able to earn as much money (or no money at all!). To cap it all off, there’s the fear of failure. It’s this last fear that cripples all of us at some point in our lives. The fear of failure has stopped me from doing many things before. It’s what stopped me from leaving a job I was unhappy in sooner, and it’s what accompanies me to the computer every single day when I sit down to write. Fear is the single biggest career change challenge for anyone considering it. Fortunately I have found there are ways to deal with this challenge and I’m really happy to share them with you.
Learn to Love Failure
Many people see failure as a total negative, when it’s anything but. Someone posted the photo below on my Facebook page a few months ago and it really struck a chord for me, because it reminded me of what I was taught at school and by my parents.
Failure is just the first attempt in learning. I have failed so many times in my life, and I will probably fail a lot more, because it’s the only way I know how to learn. My failures have brought about all of my achievements in life, including the following in the past year alone:
From Failure to Achievement in 2015
Fail – Hundreds of thousands of words of attempted novels in the past decade
Achievement – 2 completed 2nd draft manuscripts in 2015, one with a professional editor and beta group for structural review and cover artist for initial concepts (see sketches below).
Fail – Hundreds of articles submitted and rejected for print publication in the past 2 years
Achievement – My article ‘Vote Janeway in 2015!’ appeared in the summer issue of Vector Magazine in June 2015.
Fail – Introverted writer and author unable to speak to anyone at my first conference in 2012
Achievement – I say ‘hello’ to someone at 4th conference in 2013, sparking a conversation that leads me to meet and share ideas with other amazing readers and writers. Learn that saying ‘hello’ does not automatically mean death. Go on to attend more events in 2015 and speak at one.
Fail – Got mocked at age 17 when presenting an analysis of the impact of Star Trek on modern culture and history at school.
Achievement – Asked to appear on 2 panels at the Nine Worlds 2015 Sci Fi Conference in London…to talk about Star Trek and its impact on modern culture and history.
Fail – Jan 2015. Less than 30% of waking time devoted to my writing career due to other business commitment.
Achievement – Successfully sold my stake in opticians business on December 4th 2015 enabling me to focus 100% on building my writing career in 2016
Big Changes Take Small Starts
I find it terrifying whenever I try something new or different. Change isn’t easy for me as I am a natural introvert and worrier. I still lie awake at night wondering how I will be able to live and survive every time I take a risk that could end in failure. I still ask the same questions that, no doubt, you do:
What if no one likes me?
What if I run out of money?
What if I can’t get another job?
What if I fail?
How to Change
Small steps work.
In 2011 my unhappiness finally outweighed my fear, and I quit my well paid job as a General Manager for ODEON cinemas. I did it without a stable job to go to. I knew I wanted to write but the following 12 months were amongst the hardest for me financially. I was only just starting to try and see if I could write professionally. I felt like giving up many, many times (I still do whenever I’ve had a bad day). I messed up. I wrote utter garbage. I wrote pieces I wish I’d never written. But I stuck with it, and eventually I started to get better.
When I began I was living with my sister. This helped to reduce my living expenses. When I had enough money, I moved. Basically I managed little by little, piece by piece, to put myself on course to a new professional and personal destination. One that is more interesting and fulfilling than the old one. It’s exciting and daunting, and I still have a long way to go before I achieve the level of success I am happy with (and even then I still don’t think I will be satisfied). I learn from my successes, I learn from fellow writers like Joanna Penn, and Orna Ross, but I learn the most from my failures. Eventually, I will have learnt enough from the failures, to achieve even more. I’m always learning.
What’s the Worst that can Happen?
I might fail. If it doesn’t work, I have to get another job to help pay the bills. I might not be able to achieve what I want in the time I’ve earned myself. But I will have learned a lot.
The worst thing that can happen is that I have to get another job? And I can still continue to write? That’s the worst thing? Oh. That’s not so bad. In that case I’m going to carry on working really hard at this.
Failure is not the End, it’s the Beginning
I know from experience, that you can’t succeed without having tried and failed quite a few times. I control my fear of failure by simply accepting it, and balancing it with the reality of what I am capable of and have already achieved. I have discovered more of my abilities and I’m eager to see what else I can do.
So if you’re thinking of trying something new this year professionally or personally, think about this;
If you try, you might actually succeed. You might fail, but even if that happens, you will have learnt a lot.
If you don’t try, you definitely will fail without any chance of success.
I choose to try. I hope you do too.
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