Worst case scenario? Already living it…and making it work…

Matt Cheuvront runs a blog called Life Without Pants, which “is a place where no one is afraid to speak their mind, no one is afraid of failure, and self doubt is a distant memory,” as he describes it. I follow Matt on Twitter (surprise surprise), and he recently tweeted a new post, Words of Wisdom from a Newbie Entrepreneur.

He makes a point that his path may not be the one to follow, but he offers some good pointers. The first one, Identify and Understand your Worst Case Scenario, rang true for me since, well, I’m living it. No identification required.

Like Matt, I was “thrown toward” this path when I got laid off in April 2008. The markets hadn’t tanked quite yet, so there were still job opportunities but as that summer progressed, and the markets continued to sink, job opportunities evaporated rather quickly. It is a well-read story now, but I suspect that there are many others like Matt and myself who find themselves in this “thrown toward” situation.

Me, I was bound and determined to get a job, any job, that would allow me to remain in the city and continue my graduate school studies without having to take out student loans. I landed one short-term contract before all leads evaporated. My worst case scenario came true in October 2008: packed up and moved home after taking out an amount slightly above the minimum amount of student loans required to finish my degree. I spent all of 2009 coming to gripes with this new reality while working a contract job and attempting to start a business. The contract job worked out well for me, kept me occupied which, in hindsight, meant I didn’t think much about starting a business. I didn’t think much about “something tangible,” as Matt mentions.

He makes another good point about “9 to 5” work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with returning to “Corporate America.” I returned briefly myself. A note of caution, though: going back to “Corporate America” can be quite a shock to the system.

I also agree with Matt that there is no “right” or “wrong,” you just have to do what you want (or need to do), and it also helps to know what that is. Sometimes, too, it may not turn out to be what you originally thought. And there is nothing wrong with that, either.

It’s been two years since I was laid off, and though I am living my worst case scenario, I’m finding ways to make it work. As much as I loath being back in my parents house, it has the benefit of keeping my operating costs extremely low, if completely non-existent. I do not expect it to stay that way, but it does allow attention to be focused elsewhere instead of solely on money to pay bills. In addition to low (if non-existent) operating costs, my commute is incredibly short. My commute is a flight of stairs, which is far better than 1.5-2 hours I used to spend commuting.

With that in mind, I am inclined to agree that “worst case scenario” is almost always worse in your head than it is in reality. In your head, you are inclined to forget that you do have a support network, family, friends and colleagues, who can help in ways you may not have considered until reality knocked and said hello.

Whether you find yourself longing to start your own company, or whether you’ve been “thrown toward” it like Matt and myself, take some time to think it through. Find that “tangible” aspect, and go from there. Speaking from experience, it makes a difference.

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2 Responses to Worst case scenario? Already living it…and making it work…

  1. Great post! I speak to at least one person a week who is in a very similar situation or is about to be in your situation. No matter how much I communicate to them that they are not alone, and there are many other people going through this right now, I don’t feel like they really take me very seriously. Maybe be cause I’ve been self employed since before the market tanked…maybe because I’m a recruiter and people look at me as being on “the other side”. I don’t know.

    What I do know is that when you’re going through a difficult time in your life, no matter what the situation is, it really helps to know that you’re not the only one. It really helps to get ideas and encouragement from others who are going through the same kind of experience. This is such a great view point to share with others that are in a similar position to you. You’ve taken your worst case scenario and set the example that no matter how bad things get, it’s possible to still work towards your goals with out giving up. Thank you for posting this.

  2. Gwynne Monahan says:

    Thanks Veronica! And you’re welcome.

    I can understand people not taking the “you’re not alone” speech seriously. There’s probably a “yeah yeah yeah” and an eye roll involved. 😉 It’s very easy to fall into that as it is often the path of least resistance.

    And I completely agree that it helps to get ideas and encouragement from others going through the same kind of experience. The trick, or the hard part, is finding those people. There weren’t many, initially, but there are quite a few now. And it helps to find a mix of seasoned as well as newbies. We can learn an awful lot from each other.

    I’m often reminded of a line from the movie Shadowlands: “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn, by God you learn.” And I think that it can be less brutal and just as educational to learn from someone else’s experience.

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