Can you think of a time where you wish you would’ve taken a risk instead of playing it safe?
Whether it’s a trip to Cancun you could’ve taken, an employer you could’ve reached out to or that cute barista you’ve wanted to ask out but have said nothing more to than, “I think I’ll grab a 16oz. chai” (solely because she recommended it, even though you’re lactose intolerant.) Most people have something pop into their minds immediately when asked this question. Looking back now, that dilemma, strangely, doesn’t actually seem that complicated anymore. Whereas, in the moment you were sure that even Einstein would’ve been as baffled as you. Then again hindsight is 20/20, right?
In fact, when reading this you most likely have a current situation you’re dealing with where you can identify two options. A “safe” option and a “risky” option. Let’s take a step back to see things a little more clearly and maybe that “risky” option won’t seem so risky after all.
As humans, we tend to exaggerate. That fish you caught this summer grows an inch every time the story is told and the dog that chased you around the block might as well have been a cheetah hunting a gazelle on the Sahara. It can be fun to embellish a story a little to get your crowd on the edge of their seats! Unfortunately, I think that this exaggeration and magnification can also permeate into our decision making process – and it’s subconscious. When we get asked to do something hard or uncomfortable, our brains turn what was a five-foot jump into a 50-foot jump.
A good way I’ve found to overcome this thought process is using simple logic. Seems like an obvious solution, but it is often overlooked. Taking a few minutes to write down the pros and cons of each possible outcome can bring things back to reality. We can, unintentionally, make the consequences of an outcome seem much more daunting than they are in reality. Sit down, breathe, and think logically to take the blindfold off that you’ve put on yourself.
When we make our problems big, our own abilities seem to become very, very small. We give ourselves a lot less credit than we deserve. In reality, however, we may have every single experience, skill or attribute necessary to get the job done. So, when you’re bringing your problems down to size, make sure you are giving yourself the credit you deserve as well. We tend to be harder on ourselves than we should. I would highly recommend talking to a few people who know you well and ask for encouragement. You will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
Once everything is laid out logically, it is time to make a choice. Hopefully at this point the choice at hand does not seem too overwhelming and that “risk” doesn’t seem very risky anymore. We often psych ourselves out of something that can be so very beneficial to us. By taking the steps above, you can very easily overcome that mindset.
However, sometimes the decision is simply too big or life-changing to overcome the nervousness of the situation. In these times I would still advocate for a serious consideration of the riskier choice. Here’s why:
- People like being comfortable and secure. It makes sense, it’s the safe choice. But, these types of choices will, more often than not, be available to us. It’s the uncomfortable decisions that come around much less often. Don’t take the opportunity to make one of those decisions for granted.
- Everyone wants to improve their quality of life. That’s what keeps this world turning. We wish for more things, opportunities or experiences. But, if those opportunities don’t present themselves in the way they we thought they would come we get nervous. Don’t be scared to walk through a door that was opened for you – you asked for it!
- There are not many people who end life thinking, “I wish I would’ve done less. Had less experiences and not had so many opportunities.” However, there are, sadly, many people who end life wondering, “What if…?” Don’t let that happen to you.
- There is no time like the present. If not now, when? Things change – relationships end, friends move, babies come, your favorite band will break up and Netflix binging can’t last forever – you will never have the same opportunities in life that you do right now. Carpe diem.
- Michael Scott is also an advocate of taking the shot.
Take that risk today and live life to its fullest.
By: Nate Christoffels