"What’s the worst that could happen?" How to hack the things you’re afraid of.

"What’s the worst that could happen?" How to hack the things you’re afraid of.

Graphic design today is brought to you by the one-and-only Sydney Michuda. Please follow her incredible work @sydneymichuda. She's actually the coolest.


Sometimes I am so paralyzed by making a decision to start something that I don’t end up following through my initial idea to the realization.

My brain basically works like this: Have idea, get excited about idea, plan idea, set up idea, go to execute idea, get paralyzed by idea’s potential outcomes, wait on idea for a few days to a few months, sometimes do the idea, but a lot of times don’t do the idea because scared of outcome.

I think I have potential-outcome-paralysis, if there’s such a thing. The intuitive, idea-creating side that manifests all of these great art and business ideas is also the part of my brain that manifests ideas of potential failure, rejection, and ultimately losing. It’s as if, whenever I have a good idea, it has the potential to get attacked by the “fear virus.”

It’s happened so often in my life that I’ve had to develop brain-hacks to get around it, or else I would never innovate or make progress in anything I try to accomplish. The funny thing is that that the more I employ these “life hacks,” the more I learn about myself and what I am capable and not capable of. It’s not that I necessarily am able to accomplish every idea I have by choosing to push through - no, if I tried to accomplish every idea I had, I would never accomplish anything. 


Through the noise that screams at me in the fear of failure and rejection, there’s one phrase that, since I learned how to employ it and utilize it, helps me hack that part of my brain that tells me I won’t be able to accomplish a goal; I won’t be successful at completing the goal; that the goal isn’t worth my time and the goal, ultimately shouldn’t be pursued.

It’s simple.

Whenever I’m afraid of doing something, I ask myself one question:

“What’s the worst that could happen?” 

What’s the one thing in your life, right now, that you’re trying to make a decision on? Really quickly, apply this hack to it for just 30 seconds. If you DO decide to pursue “X” goal, what is the worst that could actually happen?

If you decide to start that business…

If you decide to ask the girl or guy out…

If you decide to make that phone call…

It’s funny, most of the time when I think about this, my brain switches from negative-outcome potential to positive-outcome potential. I think this is because, when given the right perspective, most things we can do to move forward in our life aren’t actually that scary, even if we initially equate them to be.

When I ask myself, “what’s the worst that could happen,” I’m met with comparing the potential reality of pursuing “X” goal with things that are actually scary - and I realize that those things - the “worst” things that could happen - usually would only take a few days to a few months of cleanup work if they ever happened, and they don’t put myself or my family in danger in any way.

The perceived danger you have when deciding to pursue a dream isn't worth your time, because it's not a legitimate threat to you.

the “worst” things that could happen - usually would only take a few days to a few months of cleanup work if they ever happened, and they don’t put myself or my family in danger in any way.

If it doesn’t put myself or my family and friends in danger, it has low potential to dismantle my current path, it has high potential to yield great results (if I overcome the fear of it), and it just needs me to push the GO button - then, I do it. And asking myself this question - “what’s the worst that could happen?”, helps me get there.

When I really think about it, most things we pursue in life aren’t actually that scary, because we built them ourselves. We intuitively know them. However, as humans, we have this ridiculous drive to self-preserve and keep ourselves safe. If you’re a mother or a father, you probably know this tenfold - your family is everything, and you will protect them and yourself at all costs.

The problem with self-preservation comes when we allow it to keep us from pressing the GO button on our hopes, our goals goal, our dreams that we’ve had in our heart and our head for years. It’s hard for me because I have so many ideas, and because of it, I have so many ideas to be attacked by my self-preserving, goal-belittling attitude.

Shut it off. Ask the question. Get your dreams.

What’s the worst that could happen? 


David Talley
May 19, 2017
Follow me on Instagram @_davidtalley.
Follow Sydney (she created the amazing graphic design) @sydneymichuda.

I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.