June 2, 2018

Ask IH: Trying hard not to choose the safe option...

A week ago I wrote this post on my blog: http://jonnyburch.com/my-journey-so-far/

(In short, 100 days into my startup with two great co-founders I decided to break away and start something on my own)

My observations of people's reaction- two buckets:

  1. People that see it as a blow for me- leaving me at a loss with no plan and self doubt.

  2. People who are excited for me, for making a hard decision for good reasons. It's progress. (It's also how I feel. The truth is I don't have a plan yet, but I'm enjoying that. I'd like time and space to think.)

Many of the first bucket are now offering me well paid work, some of which are close to full-time.

I'm naturally fairly risk averse and a bit of income feels good. A couple of them would also for sure boost my credibility and help me learn. But I absolutely don't want to slip back into a 9-5. I also do have a money buffer in the short term so don't need the cash.

Does anyone have similar experiences? What process would you follow to make a decision that you have conviction in?


  1. 5

    Provided you have a "worst case equals live with Mum and Dad" fallback that is workable, I'd say follow your heart.

    Life can be safe, boring and routine. For many people, that is exactly how they like it. For others, though, there is a driving need to be in control of one's own life, even if the steps to get that control are hard and "unsuccessful" in material terms.

    Ultimately, it comes down to the sort of person you are, the commitments to others you may have (a wife and children change the dynamics significantly) and what you want out of the one shot at life you have.

    There have been many studies into the attitudes of people who are dying. What they all have in common is that:

    1. No-one wished they had spent more time at the office.

    2. There were a few regrets about actions they had done in the past.

    3. There were many, many more regrets about opportunities not seized, risks not taken, things not done.

    4. They all died anyway, however they had led their lives.

    It's your life and only you can weigh up what is most important to you. Assuming you are footloose and fancy-free without dependents, then it really does not matter to anyone but you which path you choose or why.

    Also, what I have learned from life is that there is no such thing as "safe" or a "career for life" anyway. You are speaking to someone who has been made redundant three times during his working life. Each time it was because a big company was taken over by a bigger company. So what is the truly safe option in a fast-changing world?

    1. 1

      Reading this made me tear up a little. Thank you. I just wanna be happy.

    2. 1

      Amazing reply, thanks!

      1. 1

        You're welcome! I hope it helps to firm your resolve one way or the other!

  2. 2

    I'm partway into my journey too. The no income thing is tough and doesn't feel great. We are planning to pick up a consulting project and dedicate 2 days a week to it to bring some money in while we hack away. Even a short term project while you gather your thoughts on things can be really refreshing.

    1. 1

      Yeah. The balance of full focus vs peace of mind.

      I almost don't want to feel safe though! That fear will keep me sharp and focused. And the switching cost of two contexts I also find hard.

      1. 2

        Yeah, I feel you. I think of it like sometimes you step on the gas, sometimes you step off it. It's all about balance and adjusting. Man, going all in has really focused me like never before.

  3. 1

    It's neither good (2) because making that decision isn't a guarantee for the future (your hopes don't always come true) nor bad (1) because your hopes might come true and it's a reasonable, rational, somewhat realistic decision that didn't instantly ruin your life.

    It's just one decision.

    Whether it'll be good or bad depends on what you choose to do now.