Living without a safety net

Sometimes you just have to take that leap.

Here is a simple fact of life: words will turn into reality if you say it enough.

As a result: if we keep telling ourselves we are not ready, then we never will be. It doesn’t matter how much “preparation work” we are doing on the side, or how much we are learning before we make that crucial change in life.

If we say we are not ready, we needed to wait, and we are looking for that turning point, we will never be ready.

When I was 3, I fell down 2 flights of stairs with my mother.

I barely have any memory of that incident, but sometimes when I was half awake in the middle of the night, I catch glimpses of my world spinning as the hard cement corners of the stairs hitting me and my mother’s bodies.

Ever since then, I became extremely terrified of any type of slopes.

Sometimes I stop walking because the ground is inclining downwards. I automatically slow down to 15mph when driving down a hill. There were times I had to catch my breath because I feel myself losing my balance.

Lately I began skateboarding, and this fear became my biggest obstacle. It was not because I couldn’t control my body on the board, but simply the visual of the any angle steeper than 20 degrees terrifies me.

I stood on outside of my across-street neighbor’s garage, and the moment I see that little drop at the edge of his driveway that connects to the road, I freeze, stop, and sometimes fall.

My eyes react to what my mind tells me, and my heart begins racing.

I stood there, telling myself it’s just a baby hill and there’s nothing to be scared about, but my body refused to move.

Ever since I started my business, I began to see more and more people trapped in their fear, like I was in front of a hill less than 2 ft away from the ground.

Doubt tied down our limbs, and we fell into an endless cycle of hesitation: I wanted to wait. What if I fail. What if I’m not ready. I have bills I have to pay.

Rarely we realize that holding back like this is often the exact reason why we failed to accomplish what we set our foot out for.

Everyday, I speak with so many people, and so often, they come into the business world with the ambition to create something, and the reluctance of letting go their safety net.

That day I was speaking with a friend who held a business development position. He said: “You know, Xiao, it was funny how many people wanted that change, but thought they didn’t have to take any risk.”

“But can you blame them?” I asked, “you said the same thing yourself: the older you became, the less ambitious and less brave you became.”


“If I tell you to throw away the safety net of your life, say goodbye to astable income, and go chase the dream you’ve always had as a kid, would you go full-on at the beginning?”

“… I guess. But you’d go full-on, right? You already are.”

I laughed: “Well, that’s just me. I wish more people see that only full action brings the change they want, but again — can you blame them?”

As I stood on top of that tiny hill, I suddenly understood the frustration my prospects shared with me.

One went with the cheapest bid on her website and ended up paying more later on to “fix things up.”

One wanted to wait till she felt more ready and was already 2-months behind her original plan.

I thought I needed more time before a full switch only to waste my time at a position that I had no passion about and became too drained to work on the content I thought I would use that period of time to work on.

The list went on and on.

I thought to myself: what was I so scared about?

Look in front of you. There is nothing there. It is a small drop, with a flat road surface. If you lose balance, jump off, try again. If you fall — well, then just don’t fall.

“It is all in my head.” I shouted at my hubby watching my hill-try no.235 across the street from our house.

He said: “I know! I told you you could do it. Just keep your weight forward, bend down, and you’ll be fine!”

I imagined the wind to be blowing much faster.

I imagined myself going much steeper.

It felt like the speed of my board tripled, and for a second my heart almost jumped out of my throat.

A red flag raised in my mind. You can’t do it, you’re gonna fall, jump off before it’s too late, just put down your foot and stop the board!

The ground is getting closer, I had less than half a second to decide what to do. It was scary, the way it looked and the way it felt actually going steeper.

I bent my knees, leaned forward, just like what that 1000 youtube video I watched was saying, just like what hubby told me to do.

There was a drop, then a bump, then flat ground.

I realized I did it. A tiny hill, but a significant conquer for me.

“Did you see that!” I squeaked in joy.

“I did it! I told you I was able to do it!” I was jumping in the middle of the road like a child. My neighbors stepped out on the porch to see what was going on, and started laughing.

“Good job girl, you finally did it!” She said.

“I know!!”

“Now you can try the real-deal in the park.” My hubby walked over.

“But that was the real deal!” I didn’t like the way he put it, because, for me, it was a huge deal.

“But yes,” I said. “I’ll practice more here, then I will go do the big one in the park.”

“And don’t get your wind knocked out this time. Just keep leaning forward. I was really worried you might break your bones last time.” My hubby said.

I said: “If it happens, it happenes. If I still fell after trying the best instead of panicking, I’ll just have to deal with it and try again.”

“… Damn.”

My hubby kissed me: “You are so cool!”

So there’s that, on my plan, most likely later this week, or next Monday after my art show on the weekend.

But the most important thing was, I finally knew how my prospects felt when I was trying to get them doing marketing, instead of simply judging them of being cheap cowards as I was before (yes, I was young, arrogant and ignorant).

But at some point, we all learned to walk by ourselves. We learned to go to school without our parents’ walking us the whole way, we learned to speak on a stage for the first time, we learned to go find a job for the first time…

If we look back, we are often braver than we thought.

Living without a safety net is not about being stupid and ruthless, but it is about being 100% committed to what we decided to do without second thought.

I wanted to build a business that will reach 100k revenue in 3 years, and that’s what I’m going to do. I only take on contracts for side gigs in my free time, but my priority is set and I’m putting everything I have into this business.

The business doesn’t make enough money yet — okay, go talk to more people. Learn my sales in action. Build more content and increase spending on advertising.

The business takes away all my time and I still don’t get things done — great. Figure out how to improve my efficiency and how to automate my workflow. Tie down the lingo used in communications and proposals. Automate my marketing process so I can keep my focus on development.

Honestly, it is not easy. And I can fail really hard anytime.

But I was never told that life was supposed to be easy. I was never told that there will be some sort of safety net.

Because sometimes, things do happen.

By taking away the safety net, I learned to protect myself better both physically and metaphorically.

So far, I’m liking this way of living.