It is now official! Behavior researchers and psychologists have proved something most of us have intuited long ago – people do not like to take risks even at the cost of letting valuable opportunities pass by.
What is so unattractive about taking risks?
Nothing really. Apart from the possibility of losing something valuable, be it money, better opportunity, or our self-esteem.
We like things and opportunities that come with the word “guarantee” attached to them. That way we feel safe and satisfied with our decisions.
Risk, on the other hand, means that there is a certain percentage of failure involved. Of course, there is also a certain percentage of success. But since we are a lot more motivated by what we can lose than by what we can gain, we do not like to chance it.
However, there is also a downside to avoiding risks in life:
1. Tons of missed opportunities (because any great new opportunities always involve taking risks)
2. So-so life (“playing it safe” is a sure way to settle for a lot less than you actually wanted and could have achieved)
3. Not-so-good relationships (because there are no guarantees when it comes to feelings.)
Any serious worth-while goals and achievements require taking risks.
- If you want to start your own business or find a better job, you have to be willing to quit your current job first and lose your financial stability.
- If you want to create strong, happy, long-lasting relationships you have to be prepared to put your trust and even your heart at stake.
- If you want to become a good leader and gain other people’s respect, you need to learn to take decisive actions in risk-related situations.
How to take risks and do it WELL?
1. Calculate your risks. Taking risks is like skydiving. You need to have courage to take that first step into the vast chasm of blue. But before you do that and enjoy the liberating and exciting feeling of flying, you must check your equipment and make sure that your parachute will open. Be smart about taking risks. Weigh carefully your chances of success and what you put at stake. If something goes wrong, it should not ruin you emotionally, financially or physically.
2. Have a plan B. What are the potential risks that you can encounter? What can you do if something does not go according to your initial plan? Taking risks means dealing with the possibility of failure. Having a plan B can noticeably improve your chances of success and shift the odds in your favor.
3. Look at what it is costing you NOT to take this risk. Almost always personal growth and achievements come with risk no matter whether you fail or succeed. Unconsciously you may try to resist change and try to protect your sense of security. But if in the long run it costs you your health, your relationships, your promotion, your happiness and fulfillment then you are probably paying too much for it.
4. Analyze what taking this risk is worth to you. Sometimes even if you take a risk and fail, you end up winning anyway, because you learn valuable lessons in the process and stretch your abilities. There is a certain satisfaction in knowing that you dared and went for your dream against all odds, whether you succeeded or not. Regret of never trying is usually much harder to live with than failure.
5. Let go of excuses. When we are facing a challenge and the possibility of failing, our mind ‘rationalizes’ our fears by coming up with hundreds of “logical” reasons not to do it. Take time to reflect which reasons are real and which ones are nicely disguised excuses.
And finally… Start taking risks today! The more you think about whether you should take a risk or not, the less likely you will not do it. Courage is not something we are born with. It is a quality that we develop with practice. Challenge your fears by starting to take small risks now! Go to a restaurant where you have not been before and order something that sounds really strange, buy a different style of clothing, try a new sport or do something you ordinary would not do!
It’s fun and exciting! You’ll see!
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