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  • Writer's pictureMy HR Guy

What's the worst..

This is a slightly different post, but I feel it's a necessary one. And before we really get into the meat of it, I will admit that it's a bit cliche, if the title didn't already give that away.

Recently, someone I know decided to quit their job and travel through Asia for 3 months. Which got me thinking. I've tried to live a life without regrets. I truly mean that. It's not that I haven't made regrettable decisions, but I also try to see those decisions as learning experiences. Or see them as "everything happens for a reason." Whether true, or just a coping mechanism, it works for me.

But back in 2007, I began researching teaching in ESL in Japan for a year. There were many organization offering this opportunity, but I found one that seemed right for me ( The basic premise was that they'd send you to Japan, pick a location for you to teach, set you up with a place to stay, and provide you with a small salary. I believe they also paid for the plane tickets, though any return trips were on you. The only downside was that you could end up in a big city or in a really rural location, and your location could probably make or break your experience.

Add to that I was a young black man, that grew up in the era of "black people don't do that." Which meant that it was unlikely I would find other black people going through this experience, and my black friends and family would've likely thought I was crazy. But that aside, I persisted. I completed the application, and began to collect reference letters.

Then, I got cold feet? What about my job here? Would I get another job when I came back? What about my bills? I let the worries of the day, and quite honestly my own insecurity about being outside of my comfort zone, freeze me and eventually prevent me from doing something I thought I really wanted to do. Looking back, this is especially rough because I believe my life is fulfilled by experiences, and I think this could have been a good one.

By not going, I probably avoided some challenges. The economic crisis of 08 would have likely made it difficult to get a job. And the money I made by staying where I was has allowed me to travel to other interesting destinations (everything happens for a reason).

What's my point? Not everyone has the luxury to leave their job to travel. That's privilege. But most of us have options. The thing that tends to hold us back is that the option of greater reward, likely has seemingly greater risks. You can choose to live low risk/low reward and be happy. More power to you. But if that isn't really providing you the level of happiness you think you can achieve, you might need to take that risk.

My wife like to play the "What's the Worst that can Happen," game. Spoiler alert, the worst thing that can happen, in most cases is either homelessness or death (at least in our version). And though homeless isn't desirable, it too can be temporary. But the thing we're reminded of each time we play the game is that the worst thing that could reasonably happen isn't death, so that's a win. And that there will be plenty of other options to avoid the most reasonable worst case scenario, especially in the world today.

So if you're at a point in your career (I'll try to make it work-related now), where you have options, and you really want one of those options but it seems risky, play the game (what's the worst...) Then, just believe in yourself and what you're capable of. If you're a little scared, it'll probably be a worthwhile risk.

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