When it comes to building a successful online business, you can typically split “candidates” into two groups: those who largely believe in themselves and those who don’t.
Upon reflection, I would say that I fell into the first group. While I certainly had my doubts during that first and most important part of the journey to leaving work behind (quitting your job and building a successful online business), the negative voice in my head was never loud enough to discourage me from my overriding conviction: that I would succeed.
However, over the past few months I have spoken to more and more people who fall into that second category. I have witnessed firsthand how a great deal of potential can be wasted due to nothing other than a lack of self belief.
I hate that. I hate seeing potential wasted and I hate seeing someone unhappy in their life when they have the ability to enact positive change.
And that’s why I’m writing this post. If you are desperate to leave work behind but feel that you lack the self belief to make it happen, please read on.
What Makes You Tick?
Let’s explore how you feel.
There are probably a number of words that you might use to describe yourself when it comes to the prospect of leaving work behind: unable, incapable, or inadequate.
You may have more concrete “reasons” (dare I call them excuses?): lacking the necessary skill or technical know-how, lacking a good enough idea, or not knowing how to start.
The lists can go on (feel free to add your own).
However, leaving work behind is far less about your capabilities and far more about the belief that you have in yourself. It’s not about how good you are, because you are almost certainly good enough at something to leave work behind. It’s about believing that you are good enough.
Your biggest barrier to success at this stage is your belief (or lack thereof). That’s what needs to change — not your ability, technical skill, or whatever other excuses that you have told yourself stand in the way.
Putting It All Into Perspective
When it comes to building self belief, the worst thing you can do is convince yourself that what you want to achieve is a pipe dream.
As I have said before, there are countless people out there less able than you who have already achieved what you want to achieve. That is one of the most important realities that you must face up to and admit.
What you want to achieve is just a drop in the ocean of human achievement. There are people out there doing truly outstanding things: furthering the boundaries of human understanding, curing diseases, creating works of art. But we’re not setting our sights that high. Not even close.
All we want to do is create an online business that matches our outgoings and affords us a level of control that we do not currently have. In terms of financial goals, the first step will not even be to earn more than what you currently earn. It could in fact be to earn far less (if you are willing to sacrifice earnings in order to have a far better quality of life — something you should seriously consider).
Stop telling yourself that what you want to achieve is an absurd notion. Might it be difficult? Sure. Could it take a while to achieve? Yep. Probably. But it is not impossible and you are more than capable of achieving it.
Consider this: you’ve probably surpassed more difficult challenges in your life. I know I have — quitting my job and building a successful online business was a cakewalk compared to other things I have overcome. And yet I built it up to be something far bigger than it was.
The greatest “mental gift” I have now is the belief that I can achieve anything that I set my mind to. It is not a gift I had before I left work behind, but boy would it have been a fine belief to have. It would have made things a damn sight easier.
I am trying to give you that gift now. Stop telling yourself that you can’t achieve your goals. You’ll look back from a position of success, laugh at how you doubtful you were, then look towards future achievements that eclipse your original goal with utter confidence.
Defining Leaving Work Behind
Let’s consider for a moment what you want.
You’re probably fed up with the limitations and impositions of your job. You have a strong desire to live a freer life — one that you are in control of. One where eight (or more) hours of your every working day isn’t conducted at the behest of an employer.
The problem is that your perspective on how to wrest that control is terribly distorted. Leaving work behind does not have to be about launching a highly successful business or making vast amounts of money. You can leave work behind with a very modestly-performing business. In fact, you may consciously choose to operate a low-income business in order to suit a quality of life that is far more important to you than money in the bank.
If you can truly understand and embrace the above concept, you’ll be far better placed to leave work behind.
I am reminded of a comment on a recent post here on Leaving Work Behind left by Mark:
…I work 4 days a week, I make only $60k, no weekends, and I leave work behind once I close my door.
With that said, I would gladly leave that job behind, make half as much, and work the same amount from my virtual office.
My family of 5 live in the condo I bought in 1989 when I was single. It’s big enough for us. The mortgage is less than renting a 1 bedroom apartment.
We drive old cars. The newest car that I drive has over 180,000 miles on it. No car payments for over 20 years. I can afford a $1,000 repair bill and not even flinch. Our cars rarely break because I do preventative maintenance myself.
We buy all of our clothes from thrift stores. My wife makes all our food from scratch. We are in several food buying co-ops. I roast my own coffee at home. No starbucks or buying expensive lattes and what not.
Mark’s got his head screwed on straight — he understands the clear distinction between making money and being happy (and that one does not necessarily lead to the other).
I’m not saying that leaving work behind is about living frugally. What I am trying to do is give you a broader perspective on what you can do to leave work behind. It’s not necessarily about building a six-figure online business. It’s certainly not about working yourself into the ground trying to build a six-figure online business.
Consider this: if you examined your finances and what you truly needed to live, you might discover that you could leave work behind tomorrow if you truly wanted to.
Perspective has a huge part to play when it comes to leaving work behind. Be sure that your perspective isn’t skewed by conventional thinking.
Focus On What You Can Definitely Do
If you break leaving work behind down into its constituent parts, there are three major things you can (should) do:
- Reduce your outgoings
- Build a financial safety net
- Create a source of income that matches or exceeds your adjusted outgoings
You can definitely reduce your outgoings right now. You can probably start to build a financial safety net (or at least work towards paying down your debt so that you can in the future) now too. And while you may blow the third step out of proportion, creating a source of income is far easier than you may think.
So if you’re lacking confidence in your abilities in achieving the third step, why not focus on what you know you can do to start with? You may find that doing so gives you the necessary momentum to work on creating money as well as saving it.
But What About That Third Step?
When it comes to creating an income stream, the issue is often not finding an idea, but believing that you can actually succeed.
Let’s consider some of the potential issues that stand in the way:
- Market demand
- Your own ability
- Your willingness to give it a go
I want to focus on that last one, because all of the other potential issues are irrelevant by comparison.
I major on the concept of building bootstrapped businesses, so when we’re talking about giving it a go, all other considerations may be potential roadblocks, but they’re never dangerous. After all, you’re not going to be pouring your life savings into your business — probably less than a few hundred dollars (if that).
So when it comes to facing up to your demons (i.e. how you think you’ll fail), we’re not talking about a fear of financial security — we’re talking about the fear of failure.
That’s it. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you fail. And if you do fail, you’ll be in a far better position than you were before. You’ll have the myriad benefits of experience and will be better placed to succeed in the future.
Although I may not convince you that you’re ready to take the leap, I do hope that I open your eyes to a rational understanding of risk in the context of leaving work behind. it’s not about losing your way of life — it’s about risking failure in the pursuit of success.
It’s On You
Ultimately, these are just words.
If you strongly believe in your perceived inability to succeed then it will be very tough for me to persuade you that you are capable of anything.
Perhaps it’s not time for you yet — not in terms of your ability, but in terms of your belief. Or perhaps it’s not time for you yet because you simply don’t have a strong enough motivator. Because let’s face it, leaving work behind is tough.
Do you really hate your job that much, or are there simply some elements of it that you dislike (like any other job)? Please be honest with yourself — it’ll help. Don’t make excuses. If you’re not ready yet, admit that you’re not ready. It’ll make waking up and coping with each day far easier (i.e. “This sucks, but clearly it doesn’t suck enough“). Furthermore, your enlightenment may even give you the necessary push to take the leap (i.e. “This sucks; perhaps i didn’t care enough in the past, but perhaps I should“).
With that said, I am sure there are a number of you reading this who are ready. You just needed a push.
Consider this your push.
Let’s not overcomplicate this process — just work on the first step.
If you’re not working on reducing your outgoings and building a financial safety net, start doing that now. But that’s a piece of cake. Your first real step is to start building your online business.
With that mind, answer this simple question: “What is the next action I can take that will contribute towards the creation of my online business?”
Do that thing. Complete it. Then repeat the process. At the most basic level, that’s all there is to it.