In my old age, I have developed some weird anxieties about taking any kind of new medication. And today, I had to start taking a new antibiotic. Also, because I don’t swallow pills, I have to chew them, which makes the entire experience a bit more traumatic.
To help myself get over my irrational fear and just take the damn thing, I employed a simple tactic, that works for all kinds of things, that revolves around a well-known phrase:
What’s the worst that could happen?
Really going out of your way to imagine the worst case scenario when embarking on something you’re not sure about has a gang of benefits.
For one, it creates confidence. When you imagine the worst thing that could happen, you typically realize it is something you could live with. In this silly example, the worst thing that could happen is I get nauseated and puke. And that would suck. But it’s not the end of the world.
I’m in the process of starting up a new business, Life Saver Pool Service. What’s the worst that could happen there? It doesn’t work. I lose some money, some time, and people who I probably don’t care that much about anyways make fun of me behind my back. I can live with that.
When I started writing this blog, I contemplated what the worst case scenario was: no one reads it.
In all three cases, the worst thing that could happen is much smaller than the benefits of success. The upside outweighs the downside. Effective risk mitigation.
Besides creating confidence and managing risk, the last benefit is preparation. If you have thought through all of the worst case scenarios, you are more prepared for how to handle them. You can take the necessary steps to be ready in the event that the worst thing that could happen does actually happen.
When you are getting ready to do something that you’re nervous about, it is easy for the negative ramifications to be mentally overblown. Taking the time to really think through the worst possible outcome can help to bring things back into reality. And if you’re doing something you are excited and optimistic about, taking the time to imagine the worst case scenario can help you avoid being caught off guard, to mitigate risk, and to have proper precautions in place.
But hey, what’s the worst that could happen?
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