The Necessity of Scaring the Shit out of Yourself for Career Clarity

There was a moment earlier this year where I wondered what the hell I was doing with my life. After returning from a vacation I came to the profound decision that I had to make a change because I was miserable in my current position. Yet, I didn’t know what change to make or what direction to go, I felt as many do….stuck.

Growing up in Wisconsin you learn how to drive in snow and ice. There would be enormous snow falls, and your car would need to be maneuvered out of  snow banks. Occasionally the snow was too deep and you would end up spinning your tires endlessly while stuck in a snow drift.

That is how I felt.

This infinite loop of tire spinning without any forward progression.

It was soul sucking and depressing as hell.

In the end I was faced with three options:

  1. Stay and be miserable..
  2. Start looking for another job at another company.
  3. Go into business for myself.

The Decision Motivation

Eventually I went with the second option. Truth be told, number three scared the ever-living shit out of me. It felt like an insurmountable task, and suddenly an entirely too risky one. However, going through the task of seeing if I could start my own business had an unintended benefit to it, clarity of direction.

I’m very lucky, you see, I live in a two earner income household; I’m a DINK, my life is pretty good. Every year I’m able to afford vacations, save money, and live a life I never thought possible. My purpose in telling you this is not to brag; I’m well aware of my entitlement, (though if you read my previous posts you know that I came from poverty).

Sidebar: Growing up, my mother didn’t have her own bedroom, and we frequently lived off the charity of others for food and more. This means I really appreciate what I have, and going back to not having scares the shit out of me. Not being able to afford food, and a roof over my head, truly causes me anxiety. Especially if the cause is a calculated risk I took to try a new adventure. Friends have described me as risk averse, I like to consider it weighting the odds in my favor.

This meant I needed to take a long hard look at myself, an honest look at myself. The known quantity? Myself. Sure, I had a viable product, sure, I had a unique skill customers desired.

The Gaps

But…Where was I lacking?

This is where my gaps started showing. Let’s be honest, I didn’t know how to run a fucking business. It was in these gaps that I had to admit that I wasn’t ready, and that my scared as hell self was my instinct telling me I wasn’t ready.

This is the point in all of this: your gut instinct. Your intuition. It talks to you, it tells you things you may or may not want to hear. It warns you in advance of impending danger to your livelihood. It’s that instinct which has guided me through-out the 20+ years I have been building my career.  To summarize, it’s the best friend you’ve always wanted.

The Strategy

Scaring the shit of yourself is necessary to create career clarity:

  1. What motivates you in life.
  2. What you cherish the most.
  3. What gives your life meaning and pleasure.
  4. What amount of risk you are comfortable with.

There are many people who take on more risk than I do in life, some less. Only you can determine what you are comfortable with, but know there will be consequences in either direction. I truly believe had I decided to go out on my own earlier this year, it would have been a righteous failure that I wasn’t ready for.

Feeling arrested in your career development? Jump start your journey by throwing yourself in the path of your fear and facing it head on.

As always, please share your stories with me! I’d love to highlight you on a podcast.


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