The Fear of Risk

“So when are you going back to work?”

If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me that question I could live on the money for quite a while. Even my daughter seems puzzled over my decision. Part of that is my fault; in order to blend in I’ve kept quiet about my finances so she doesn’t realize that, at the moment, I am doing okay.

I believe that my friends and family are so concerned because they believe that I am taking a major risk. They believe that I can’t afford to support myself on my royalties and investment income.

They believe that I will have a problem locating a job that paid me as much as I earned at the job I quit.

Eric West wrote a thoughtful piece on the subject of fear entitled You Fear Letting Go Because Humans Suck at Assessing Risk. If you’ve not read it, I highly suggest that you click on the link. Eric used minimalism to achieve his dream of downsizing into an RV so that he could travel full-time with his family. He has an awesome story if you are not familiar with it.

While Eric is focused upon our obsession with material things in his post, the fear of risk is prevalent throughout our society.

We fear needing an item (even if we never use it), so we refuse to throw it away.

We fear new places, so we refuse to relocate.

We even fear failure. This is why so many of us refuse to walk away from our public jobs to pursue freedom.

How to Defeat Fear

One of the best ways to defeat fear is to ask yourself what is the worst that can happen?

That simple question allows you to analyze your fear, to plan ahead for an unpleasant possibility. Bob Knight discussed this process in-depth in his book The Power of Negative Thinking. I believe that his book should be required reading for anyone contemplating a bold decision.

I have taken the advice from his book and applied it to my life several times over the years. I even applied his advice to think through worst-case scenarios as I made the decision to walk away from that job.

What is the worst that can happen in my case?

The absolute worst that can happen is that I will have to get another job.

The funny thing about that worst-case scenario is that any job I take in this area will pay me a higher wage than I received as a manager. Most of the entry-level positions in this area actually start out their workers at a higher price-point than I was earning when I quit. In fact, I received a job offer for a cashier position just yesterday. The pay was $1.00 more an hour than I was earning in my previous job.

That is my worst-case scenario.

What is the worst that could happen if you decided to pursue your dreams? Please share your scenarios in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “The Fear of Risk”

  1. When you are swimming upstream and the rest of the world is swimming downstream, you’re bound to get noticed and told, Hey, you’re going the wrong way! Just keep swimming, Annie. 😀 I sure hope that you don’t have to get another public job, but, if you do, decline any management positions. Managers are being exploited across the nation- low wages for 24/7 responsibility and no chance of overtime.

    Fear plays a huge part in my life, stopping me from taking the risks I dream about. I admire your bravery. That’s why I read your blog- it is so encouraging.

    What’s my dream? To quit work, move into my car and travel. What’s the worst that can happen? Well, I guess I could die but I can die just sitting here on the sofa, too.

    Thanks for the links to what look to be some good reads.

    1. Excellent dream, Essie!
      Now, let’s think this through. You wan to quit work, move into your car, and travel. That means you need to develop some form of passive income that you can manage while on the road.

      The next step for you will be to analyze various forms of passive income opportunities to locate one that works for you.
      Any ideas?

      1. Thanks, Annie. for your reply and encouragement. I am 62 years old and could take early retirement (Social Security) but I don’t want to just yet. I am not sure about what I would like to do for passive income. I have some savings (401k) that I could slowly draw from but, actually, I just may continue with active income- get some minimum wage jobs on the road (like those offered through Cool Works) or do something online. Seems like online jobs are increasing in availability. I have done some writing- created some of my own blogs which I sold and written content for others- but the competition is fierce, especially the competition from writers from India. I just can’t do it as cheaply as they can. I plan on doing ‘slow traveling’, spending a month or two exploring each state. All just ideas thus far. Suggestions?

        1. Dear Essie,
          I agree about the challenges around content producing. One of the main concerns I have is that when you don’t fully control your content, you can lose the entire income source when a website fails or changes its pay rules (paying less or not at all). I’ve lost several income sources that way over the years as websites have folded.

          However, if you can write, you have an opportunity you can utilize if you desire. You can write and publish books (they don’t have to be long ones) and publish them with a variety of online distributors. It’s easy, and you remain in full control of your work. I seriously doubt that ebook sales will diminish over time, and good distributors work to get your books on as many channels as possible. One of my distributors placed my books on the WalMart website fairly recently; I just stumbled upon it the other day.

          A word of warning: do NOT limit your books to a single distributor. I know writers are going exclusive on Amazon, but that imposes a lot of risks. If Amazon decides to unpublish your book for whatever reason, there goes your income stream. I’ve had that happen to friends of mine. Each book you write is another income stream, and those little streams add up. I actually publish under my name here and use a pen name for my fiction so that I can reach different market segments for my fiction. Romance, especially steamy romance, is a HUGE, profitable field if you can write in it.

          Good luck!

          1. Annie, thanks for the great suggestion. I have thought of writing and publishing through Smashwords but became somewhat intimidated by all the rules to follow in formatting the books. I think you should hold a course to help those of us who would like to self-publish. I would certainly pay for that!

  2. It is the time of year to pick-up seasonal work (in any part of the country) and because “seasonal help” is hard to find, the wages are usually higher and over-time is available. Short term gig, higher wages. Win, win.

    1. Good point Sam….up in our neck of the woods…winter has come early, so ambitious kids with shovels will soon be marketing their expertise around the driveways of snow.

  3. completely off topic comment….From your pic attached I noticed a wonderful
    book case….poised as it should be, full of books to the brim, but still room for more.
    And yes, even a comfy big chair to curl up in with a new edition….a book lovers wonder nook!
    Great to see an intelligent life in action :O)

    1. Oh yes, Carla! I adore that particular room. It’s the lending library in the Main Cup Coffee Shop. They invite you to relax and select whatever book you desire to read. If you want to take it home, all they ask is that you replace it with another book when you return. Even better, you can rest assured that your money isn’t going to line the pockets of some jerk…every penny of profit goes to charity.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: