What is the Worst that Could Happen?

There is a technique in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy where you realistically analyze what could be the worst outcome of a decision or situation. You simply ask yourself what is the worst that could happen. This is a key tactic to practice because so often as humans we can catastrophize a situation/decision/result.

I am not even just talking about life and death quandaries like Churchill smoking a cigar agonizing over WW2 strategies.

This can happen with the most mundane of events such as not hearing back from a date (OMG she hates me!) to starting a business (OMG it’s going to fail and I’ll have to live in a van by the river!)

This can happen to the best and brightest of us.

We catastrophize as if we are in Pompeii watching the ash fall even the reality is that we just need to harden up and negotiate a raise with our boss.

I see so many people who spend their lives catastrophizing and end up stuck in situations that are worse than if they just took action.

If you are miserable in your job, it’s not the end of the world to start to look for another.

If you no longer want to be in your field, it’s not the end of the world to change careers.

If you want to become an entrepreneur, it’s not the end of the world to tell your spouse.

Sit and think about what actually (and realistically) is the worst that would happen. Confront the primal part of your brain still on the lookout for saber tooth tigers. Just because you feel fear, that doesn’t mean that it is real. Be logical and understand that most of our fears swirl around the idea of failure.

Failure isn’t your foe. Failure is a byproduct of actually living your life. If you never fail then that is a sign that you never tried. Failure isn’t the end. Most of my readers are educated people in the Western world with a lot going for them so I can safely assume that you can pick yourself up.

When I decided that I wanted to go into business for myself, I made a list of what would happen if I failed:

I would have to give up my own place and live with a relative like my sister.

I could have a business debt.

I’d feel humiliated since I made a big deal about being self-employed.

I would have to go back to working for someone else.

The list went on and even had some unrealistic scenarios, but I created a second list for each fear that centered around how bad each one really was and if there was a silver lining.

For example: If I did go broke and had to live with my sister then I would have lots of time with my nieces and nephew. My sister was cool with it because then she would have a live-in babysitter.

Note: I realize that its a blessing to have such a close family. I earnestly do enjoy those freaks [ 😉 ] so being able to live with them isn’t as much of a hardship as it might be for someone who doesn’t have such a cool family.

Then after I did my rebuttals/notes on each catastrophe, I wrote a few bullet points on how I could prevent that eventuality. I decided to not take out a loan for my business and do as much bootstrapping as I could.

A few of my worries were just my pride talking. It’s not a humiliation to go for your dreams. Its a sign of courage and a way to stave off regrets. And being self-employed has been a way for me to learn so many amazing skills around marketing, management, technology, etc. I can definitely find a new job with these new skills without a problem.

The worst that could happen for you might be something that you can’t tolerate. That is how I felt about a business loan so I did some adjustments in my plans to avoid it.

Then I made my peace with the fact that I could fail. If you move boldly, you’re bound to stumble.

Not every issue can be avoided, the world is chaotic, shit happens, society is unequal, life isn’t fair, etc. I can’t tell you that your experience will be like mine.

If you have kids or other responsibilities or limitations like societal marginalizations then you will have to be creative with finding your path to your dreams.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t live your life to its fullest potential. Once you face your fear and name it, you can build a strategy to overcome it or go around it. Just because life throws us barriers to our dreams that doesn’t mean that we need to become one ourselves.

Whenever you feel paralyzed by fear even as your heart and spirit are yearning to achieve a dream, greet that fear, thank it for protecting you, and use logic to defuse it.

What is the worst that could happen if you dug deep into your career/business/lifestyle/creative dreams and tried to achieve them?

You’ll probably find that the worst isn’t as bad as the regret you’ll feel for not giving your dream a go.


We want it to always it to be easy. Companies make billions every year on solutions, magic formulas, and devices that promise ease. “Easy” has filtered into every aspect of our lives to the point where who even know what that word even means anymore.

I hear that word all the time in my business.

What tech job is easy to get?

Which training program is the easiest to get through?

Is it easy to become a web developer?

It’s gotten to the point where I cringe when I hear job seekers use it.

Easy is subjective. It’s damn near meaningless now.

What is easy for you is hard for someone else.

Eating ice cream is easy… unless you have sensitive teeth.

Research is easy… unless you don’t have access to the internet.

Socializing is easy… unless you have social anxiety.

The list could go on and on.

When people say easy, they mean something else. Many times it’s a watchword for insecurity.

They really mean:

Can I rise to the challenge?

Can I do the work required to succeed?

Can I handle it for the long haul?

Since I am not a psychic, I can’t say if you can right now, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t build up your grit, drive, and know-how to build that career you desire.

It’s natural to want things NOW. We see the other people’s highlight reel on social media and read stories about overnight successes without fully absorbing the fact that most overnight successes are years in the making.

Even Beyonce didn’t pop out of the void fully formed, like Athena from the mind of Zeus, as the chart-topping phenomenon that the world knows and worships nowadays. She had to build up to it.

So will you.

That isn’t a bad thing. Its called a career path for a reason. You have many steps ahead of you.


When you feel like its a slog to put one foot in front of the other, you are making progress. Not only are you making progress, but more importantly, you are building skills, resilience, and more. If you didn’t have the valleys, you couldn’t appreciate the peaks. And life would just be, well, a plateau.

Life is suffering, as the Buddhists say, and life is also joy. These two truths can exist at once. The flower grows from the manure after all.

This doesn’t have to be negative. Its a matter of what you are focusing on. Spank your inner moppet, learn the lesson, reconnect to your WHY then your WHERE, and get back to it.

One foot in front of the other.

You can do it!

How to Thrive in the Gig Economy


The traditional thinking about careers and business is that when you have settled on a course, you have to ride that road down to the very end.


The thing about a road is that you can just step off it!

People think about their lives as if it is this preplanned highway when it might as well be the Oregon Trail. Its a suggestion not mandatory for you to go to college, find a traditional 9-5, or I guess in this metaphor, Oregon.

Why not just take a left turn at Albuquerque and see what happens?

We are trained to think that first, you go to primary school then high school then either university/trade school then get married have kids and retired then I guess, die?

This makes sense because for a brief shining moment from the 1950s-1990s that was a sustainable path. There were pensions and security when you followed that path.

For all my millennials out there, sorry boo, but that highway to prosperity has fallen into disrepair and you’re more likely to break down on the side of the road than find a pension at the end.

That means that we have to be clever and resourceful and willing to take ownership of our careers and businesses. There is no lifeguard on duty, babe.

Depending on your location, this might be more or less true, but even if you have strong unions, workers rights, and a stronghold against worse excesses of Late-Stage Capitalism, the gig economy is still coming for you. What you can do about this on the macro level is beyond the scope of this blog, but let’s dive into what you can do for yourself on the micro level.

Now, keep in mind whom I am writing this for- reasonably educated privileged people in the Western world. These tips can be useful for all, but they aren’t universal.

What can you do to thrive, not just survive, in this brave new world?


Job titles are becoming meaningless. We aren’t in a world where you have the choices to be a cooper, a baker, or a candlestick maker. Its all about skills and being able to adapt them to the jobs available. Not only do you need to focus on those skills, but you need to be able to identify how they are useful and THEN MARKET THEM.

It really chaps my hide when I see people who are like ugh, I have this 4-year degree and it’s useless then I find out that it is psychology. Really? You can’t see a marketable use for insight into human behavior in a time when so many jobs in tech, finance, marketing, social work, etc are all about understanding human behavior? Let me hit you with a clue, honey.

If I can make a history degree marketable… You can market communications, psychology, English, etc.


In the most educated generation in the world, you need to show that you can do more than sit in a chair and regurgitate information in the short term. Build a portfolio to showcase that you can actually put these skills into use. If you are a marketer, write a case study. If you are a teacher, show off a lesson plan. If you are a hairdresser, have some pictures of some cool hairstyles.

Come with the understanding that no company is going to train, mentor, or hold your hand on the job and you will never be disappointed.


The sad fact of being employed by most companies is that you are seen as expendable.

It doesn’t matter if your manager loves you.

It doesn’t matter if you made the company a million dollars last year.

It doesn’t matter if you have institutional knowledge that no one else knows.

They will shitcan you and have you train a younger and cheaper replacement.

Even in a startup where there are certain employees who are tentpoles for the whole operation, the founder is usually not smart enough to recognize that.

That means that you always have to think like a mercenary and be ready to move. Keep that resume and LinkedIn updated, keep your face familiar in the industry by networking, and never let that portfolio look stale.

Don’t be that guy fired on a Friday and packing up his desk with a shuttered look of shock.

Be the guy who can get fired on a Friday morning and by the afternoon already has an interview scheduled on Monday with his former company’s competition.


Understand that your value doesn’t come from your work. It doesn’t come from your production. It comes from within.

This can be a scary time to build a career, but let’s reframe that- its an exciting time to build a career.

This road might have its ups and downs, but you can be the one to pioneer a path that is uniquely you. It doesn’t matter if you live to work or work to live. You can design a career that brings you satisfaction and supports a lifestyle that you want whether you want to be a digital nomad in Bali or a domestic goddess in the ‘burbs.

Take ownership of your direction and you never know where the road might take you!

Career Brand Accelerator

What is a common problem that I see for job seekers and career changers? They know how to do their jobs, but not how to find the RIGHT job. This is due to a combination of blurry career vision, lack of job hunting skills, and zero personal branding.

Why is that important?

Experienced professionals can spend as much time looking for work as a newbie when they neglect their networking, portfolio, etc and then end up in jobs that feel like a dead end. There isn’t a secret to building a career you love, but there is strategy involved.

Let this be the summer where you finally get out of the career rut and create a career that you love!

I believe that if you kickstart your career, you kickstart your life. Most career coaches focus on discovering your passion, I go a step farther by taking your dream and turning it into a plan with actionable tactics to build your industry profile, develop your network, and create a recession-proof career.

How have I helped lead designers in London, seniors in Seattle, and juniors worldwide kickstart their careers? I blend coaching and consulting with my Career Brand Accelerator to give flagging careers a jolt of clarity, action, and accountability.

In this 4-session coaching package, we dive deep into your career vision, revise your application materials, and hammer out a strategy that leans on your strengths.

What do my clients say?

I successfully switched my career from project management to UX design within 3 months, and I wouldn’t have made it without her! – Cici

I can’t wait to work with her again! – Natalia

If you want to run, not walk, toward your goal of a new job then you need to step your game up with accountability, practical tools, and the right mindset. Let’s uplevel your career together!

The investment for the Career Brand Accelerator is $999 but think of the ROI of learning how to hack your personal brand and grow your career.

Apply to work with me here: http://bit.ly/CareerBrandAccelerator


Just Add You – Personal Brand Webinar

Personal Branding for UX Designers
Stand out, grow your career, and become recession proof in 2019




Did you miss the livestream? Catch the video replay here.

  • The top 3 mistakes that UX designers are making on their job hunts and how you can stand out among the hordes of tech bootcamp grads.
  • How to make your LinkedIn profile irresistible to the RIGHT recruiters so you have less spam and more opportunities in your inbox.
  • The 3 elements of a brand that not just makes your ideal company fall in love with you, but also is proof of your wage worth in salary negotiations.

About Your Presenter
Sami Gardner is an experienced career coach who has spent the last five years researching, teaching, and speaking on career development, branding, and LinkedIn. Every day professionals and Silicon Valley startups have utilized her diverse skills and insights into the job market, LinkedIn marketing, and professional branding.

Career highlights include organizing the TRANS*FORM Employment Expo, hosting the Career Kickstart podcast, and writing the Job Prep curriculum for Europe’s #1 tech boot camp.

She has trained job seekers, freelancers, and companies on how to use LinkedIn at international conferences and speaking engagements in Lisbon, Berlin, Los Angeles, and Medellin.

P.S. Ready to lean in, climb up, and evolve your career?
Forge a New Path!
Kick starting your career begins with understanding into what you truly want within a happy, stable, and authentic career.

How do you figure it out?

Ask yourself with 100 journaling prompts to get clear on your career!

Grab your complimentary PDF here.

Career Journal Prompts to Inspire You

Writing out your dreams, goals, passions, frustrations, and affirmations is one of the best ways to gain career clarity. When I was stuck and burnt out in my career, writing out guiding journaling prompts helped me tease out what I really wanted buried underneath my job ennui. It also provided a moment of zen (or place to rant) after a stressful workday. Journaling can also be used to reprogram your mindset towards positivity, track your milestones, and process any negativity.

This is a key mindset and planning tool for any professional especially those seeking a change in their career. Journaling can be done in many ways so experiment with what works best for you!  

Do you like to handwrite or type? Doodle in the margins? Use washi tape to make things pretty? Collage vision boards? Write stories? Make lists?  

You can do all of that in your journal if it gets you thinking and analysing!  

These prompts as a jumping off point. Use them as needed so don’t feel pressured to use them all or do them in order. I would recommend reading them through and noting which ones provoke an emotional response in you.  

Did a question make you feel defensive or remind you of a good memory? Nuggets of understanding are often buried in what triggers us.  

The journal prompts were created to give a comprehensive foundation for creating a career strategy from networking to barriers. I also incorporated journal prompts that would help you prepare for interview questions such as ‘tell me about yourself’ or ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’  

Some best practices for journaling include:

● Date your entries

● Keep writing without editing

● No lying to yourself

● Be natural

● Re-read entries 

Incorporate journaling into self-care routines or during travel or at conferences. Jot down ideas. Make journaling useful to you! 

Your authentic career evolution starts within. This can be the most challenging step for some, but with a will, a prompt, and a fun notebook, you can do it! 

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Here is a selection of prompts from my short ebook, Career Clarity Now, which you can get for free at that link. The prompts in the book are organized by theme, but can be answered in nearly any order.

Prompts 22 through 53:

22. If you had complete financial security and did not have to work, what would you do? 

23.Why would you do that? 

24. What hobbies do you have that are relevant to your career? 

25. What is your favorite part of your industry? 

26. Do you want to change careers, why or why not? 

27. Do you feel burnt out by your work, why or why not? 

28. How many hours would you work a day if you owned your own schedule? 

29.What ways do you feel like your lifestyle is improved by your career? 

30. In what ways do you feel like your lifestyle is negatively affected by your career? 

31. What is the most interesting profession you’ve ever heard of? 

32. When you close your eyes and think of the perfect workplace, what does it look 


33. What does this perfect office place make you feel? 

34. Who are your co-workers in this perfect office place? 

35.What makes this the perfect office place for you? 

36.What management style does the perfect office place have for you? 

37. What projects do you work on in your ideal office place? 

38. How long is your commute to your perfect office place? 

39. How do you communicate in this perfect office place? 

40. What is your main motivation in your career? 

41. Do you work to live or do you live to work? 

42. If you had your chance to work anywhere in the world, where would you work? 

43. Why do you think you haven’t changed your career before? 

44. How long have you been unhappy in your career? 

45. Who influenced you to go into your current career? 

46. Are you doing what you studied in college? 

47. Do you want to be doing what you studied in college? 

48. Do you wish that you had gotten different training? 

49. What do you have career FOMO about? 

50. Who is your ideal customer slash client slash collaborator? 

51. If you could do just one career, what would it be? 

52. What you want most of all in this world and why do you want it? 

53. Do you feel like you have a Soul’s purpose, why or why not? 

Get more prompts in the Career Clarity Now: 100 Career Journaling Prompts eBook (Free, fyi)!

Ready to lean in, climb up, and evolve your career?

Forge a New Path!

Kick starting your career begins with understanding into what you truly want with in a happy, stable, and authentic career. 

How do you figure it out? 

Ask yourself with 100 journaling prompts to get clear on your career!

Grab your complimentary PDF here.

Personal & Career Development Book Recommendations

My book recs for personal and career development in 2019:

 The War of Art

Think of The War of Art as tough love… for yourself. Since 2002, The War of Art has inspired people around the world to defeat “Resistance”; to recognize and knock down dream-blocking barriers and to silence the naysayers within us.


 You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

Bestselling author, speaker and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, cuts through the din of the self-help genre with her own verbal meat cleaver.


 The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith

In her latest book, The Universe Has Your Back, New York Times best-selling author Gabrielle Bernstein teaches readers how to transform their fear into faith in order to live a divinely guided life. 


 Reinvent Yourself

James Altucher: I’ve reinvented my career, my interests, my life, many times over the past twenty years. This is the book I wish I had at the beginning of that long and often volatile journey.


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

The instant #1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller “A must read for anyone hoping to live a creative life… I dare you not to be inspired to be brave, to be free, and to be curious.”


 What Color Is Your Parachute? 2018: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

With more than 10 million copies sold in 28 countries, the world’s most popular job-search book is updated for 2018 and tailors Richard Bolles’s long-trusted guidance with up-to-the-minute information and advice for today’s job-hunters and career-changers.


 F*ck Your Resume: The Revolutionary Guide to Getting Hired in the Digital Age

In his twenty years as a freelance journalist, Jeremy Dillahunt learned a thing or two about job seeking. Chief among them was one undeniable fact—the Internet has changed everything. The old rules no longer apply and if you want to get hired today, your resume just doesn’t work. 


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You are the Art & the Artist

Everything is a construct including you.

You are the art and the artist.

If you are a grown independent person and don’t like something about yourself or your life, don’t passively flop like a fish out of water in the face of challenges.

Find what you can change and start changing it!

  • Ditch a toxic friend or relative.
  • Retrain for a new career. 
  • Paint your nails a new color.
  • Whatever. 

Take the first step to a better life.

The longer that you marinate in unhappiness, learned helplessness, and regret, the more comfortable you will get in the rut. It will be easier to justify your inaction as more of your life slips away. You’ll find all the reasons why you can’t do it. You’ll pointedly ignore all the examples of people with the same disadvantages as you who said F that noise and just DID WHAT THEY WANTED ANYWAY.

It will become easier to blame everyone and everything because you didn’t get your own shizzle together.

Buck up, buttercup!

I did the same thing- oh, I am too LGBT, grew up poor, I went to a bad school, women shouldn’t travel solo, etc etc etc.

Let me tell you the bitter truth from my own experience… Your excuses will choke you because it’s not about your circumstances at the end of the day.

You could win the lottery tomorrow and still end up broke and unhappy, as so many lottery winners do, until you do the deep work on yourself and for yourself.

It’s on you, boo boo.

Too often people get caught up in the things that they cannot change. They overlook what is in their own power. Don’t accept defeat so easy.

There is always something that you can change in your life from your hair to your location.

You are responsible for your own happiness.


No one else can make happiness happen for you. That’s an inside job.

It’s that easy and that hard.

Your life can be a masterpiece. Just pick up the brush. 🖌️

Keep Pushing

It felt impossible.

I didn’t know if I would make it.

Hell, I didn’t even know anyone in real life who had made it.

Not the Rock of Guatape in my blog picture, those 659 steps up and 659 back down were doable.

I am talking about when I started my career change journey nearly two years ago with the goal of finally cracking the code of online work.

I needed to get out of Tucson- too many ghosts, too little opportunity.

Plus, I already knew that my nonprofit grant wouldn’t get renewed in the political climate of the time.

I have been on that roller coaster of budget cuts, grant funding, and my income being at the mercy of eternal forces.

I was sick of it.

And since I was thoroughly burnt out from my job with high-needs, high-risk clients, I was literally sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I had a full-time job, a part-time job, and I was implementing everything that I could in an intensive business course. Social life… eh, I didn’t have one.

But to be honest, I didn’t have much of one before because I was constantly fatigued and stressed out.

I had been a career specialist for years already with a proven track record with my clients. I also wrote a career course for a tech bootcamp that became the main selling point that brought in enough money to make the startup profitable!

I had done that for others… why not for me?

Working on my new business, I had a dream to focus on. That gave me energy. Each thing that I implemented gave me a jolt. Instead of busting my hump for someone else, all my efforts went to me and my future.

My mind was half in the real world and half in my dream of traveling the world and running an online business.

I might have had a pie-in-the-sky goal but I made sure that I pursued a very practical plan of diversifying my income streams from a stable long-term startup contract to passive income courses.

Every step, every day, my journey got less cloudy and more solid.

When I started, it seemed impossible… then after 4 months of consistent and persistent work, I gave my two week notice and left Tucson only two days after I cleaned out my desk

In the nearly two years since then, I have worked with hundreds of job seekers, traveled to ten countries, and given live talks on three continents.

All epic journeys feel impossible… until you start walking the path with courage and determination.

Don’t forget- kickstart your career, kickstart your life!

How do you get UX recruiters interested in you without a design background?

Dear Sami,

Any suggestions on how to get recruiters interested in you when you don’t come from a design background? I feel that I’m ignored or blown off because I don’t come from a design background and am new to the UX field. It took me 9 months just to get my first interview.

I graduated from a UX bootcamp and have the same knowledge as those whom I graduated with. They got a lot of interviews when it seems like I had hardly any luck. I’ve been told my portfolio as well as my resume look good. The only difference I can see is my lack of design background.

-Ignored UX Grad in Seattle


Hey Ignored UX Grad in Seattle!

If recruiters aren’t interested, I suggest to keep working on your portfolio and start other networking tactics.

I find that a student’s networking can have as much of an effect on their job search as any design background. Seattle’s job market is like every other one… who you know is as important as what you know. 

You can better your odds by using sites like Angel.co to find smaller startups (15-40 employees) and connect with their CEOs and design leads to pitch yourself. I also suggest participating in hackathons too since its both networking and portfolio building.

And, check out your LinkedIn connections, if you aren’t connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn, you’re missing a chance to be seen by them.

If you do all of that, you’ll get attention from designers and others in the industry. Then the recruiters will follow. 

Cheers, Sami