Sunday, 11 July 2010

What's the worst that could happen?

As I see it, there seems to be a preoccupation in our society with extremes – you’re either a drinker or you’re teetotal; you’re either a smoker or you’re a non-smoker; you’re vegetarian or you’re not, those of us who want to lose a few pounds go on a fad diet... (No finger pointing here, by the way, I’m just as guilty as the next person.) We seem to struggle if we can’t put a label on it.

What happened to balance? Why do we feel we have to swing wildly between black and white, or feel that we have to set up camp in one particular field?

Remember the old adage: “A little bit of what you fancy does you good”? I’ve been living by that rule for a few months now and it seems to be serving me well; I don’t feel at all deprived; life is feeling pretty balanced.

But, well, balance and moderation is all well and good isn’t it, for some areas of our lives? What happens when the thing we’re approaching has no half-measures?

Just like you can’t “kind of” do a parachute jump, you can’t “a bit” have children, and you can’t “sort of” quit your job to work for yourself – it’s all or nothing, isn’t it? And “all or nothing” can seem truly terrifying: it’s a total commitment. What in God’s name do you do if you don’t like it? You can’t float upwards and get back on the plane – once you’ve jumped you’ve got to deal with the consequences.

But what if all you’ve ever wanted is to experience that exhilaration of throwing yourself out of a plane? What are your options? Either you go up in that plane and you jump out – embrace the fear that, yes, it could all go horribly wrong - or you stay on the ground and know that you’ll never get to do it and, worse still, watch others experience what you crave.

How many of us shy away from something we know in our hearts we want, simply because we fear it may be the wrong choice? I’ve done that so many times. I fear I may mess it up or realise later that I made the wrong decision and it feels like there’s no going back. How often, though, is it REALLY the case that there’s no going back?

Well, this is where, again, we turn to balance – a balanced perspective. Yes, there ARE extreme circumstances where there’s absolutely no going back but really, they’re few and far between. What about what you’re shying away from? (I believe most of us are shying away from something, come on, admit it.)

Look at whatever it is you’re denying yourself because of fear and honestly ask yourself:

“Is it really an extreme circumstance? If I do this is there truly no going back, or is it something that potentially I could change my mind about at a later date if I decide it’s not for me?”

Dig deep and ask yourself,

“What’s the very worst that could happen?” and then, “If the worst happens, is that even worse than me leaving the earth having never tried it?”

If the answer is no, then you know what you must do.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with moderation, though I'm cutting waaaaay back on the things that are actually quite bad for me.

    Re: Shying away from things - I've been harbouring a desire to run my own business for a while now. I've been deferring it because of how huge a change it is and the risks involved, and because it's a decision I need to make in full co-operation with my wife.

    I have several books on becoming an entrepreneur, but I've never quite convinced myself to take that leap out of the plane. I'll need adequate preparation beforehand of course, it's not a decision any of us can take lightly, but your post has reminded me that I need to start taking action towards this goal, or it'll never happen.

    Cheers Lisa!

  2. Rob, you've had a lot going on recently so it's fully understandable you'd want to get through that before taking on this new challenge! :o)

    Preparation is key. I'm currently working through Paul McKenna's "Change your life in seven days", and I've just read the bit about the guy eating an aeroplane in small pieces, the message being that to tackle something which seems like a mammoth task, take it small goals at a time.

    I'm delighted this piece has given you a reminder; thanks so much for your comments.

  3. Brilliant piece Lisa.

    I've been living like this for most of my life but especially the past six years or so. No regrets of having not tried something and the things I haven't tried yet I'll do when I've finished my tea. Lol ;-) x