Most people don’t like to take risks. They prefer safe. Safe investments, safe neighborhoods, safe countries. Safe safe safe. But at some point in our lives we all need to take risks. It’s bound to happen. And the thing is, a certain amount of risk can be a good thing. It allows us to break free from our constraints and hopefully grow towards our goals.
The reason I’m getting into this is because most of the people I know are stuck in a rut. We’re all in our mid to late twenties, still in the early stages of careers, and we don’t know what we really want from our lives. You’ve probably read somewhere that this is the point in our lives where we’re supposed to take risks because we have enough time to make our comeback from any failure. But that’s not the goal here. I’m talking about calculated risk, good risk, risk that moves things two steps forward.
The first step is just making yourself open to change. I’ll give you an example. I graduated college in 2009 and was searching for a job. Knowing that the Texas economy was still growing while the rest of the country was in shambles, I moved to Dallas from Boston. From there, I got a job in Los Angeles and have been here ever since. The only reason I was able to make either of those moves is because I put myself out there and was open to new places and new things. If you’re not willing to accept the risks inherent in life changes then nothing can change.
The next key to taking risk is that you have to want it. Most people don’t get that when it comes down to it. You need to want something so badly that you’ll actually go for it. Want to move to New York City? Contact that recruiter! Want to be a lawyer? Set up shop and start practicing. Want Financial Independence? Go read Mr. Money Mustache and make it happen. If you want it bad enough, you’ll take a look at the risks and figure out ways to make it work. Maybe you’ve got to get a second job in order to pay off your student loans early enough to truly retire. Maybe you need to just get out of the city you’re in and go to Fiji or New Zealand because that’s what you want. If you want it badly enough, you’ll look at the risks and laugh in their faces. You’ll make it work.
Next? Keep trying. We encounter risk every day of our lives in little, tiny doses. We also see it all the time in big, potentially crushing doses. The point is, you have to keep after it. This goes right with the prior step of wanting something so bad that you’ll do anything for it. If you keep taking risks and they’re good, calculated risks, you’re going to succeed. There is a reason that some people are serial entrepreneurs. Sure, they may just be wired differently than everyone else but there is something encouraging about people who just keep taking shots. Wayne Gretzky famously said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Well, it’s true. Plenty of people sit back and watch as friends, family and those around them succeed in love and in life. They complain that it should be happening to them, that they could do it too. Well my friends, they’re not taking their shot. And if you don’t take yours, things will rapidly slip out of grasp.
Most of the risks we see in life are made up of our own fears that we’ll be inadequate or incapable of success. The more you try and put yourself out there, the more you’ll learn about yourself and see that it is simply not true. But without trying, without wanting it, you’ll always let the risks overwhelm you. So get up and start a company or talk to that pretty girl or cute guy. Take a chance and don’t let the potential risks get in the way.
Image courtesy of Wayne Gretzky’s “Special Friend,” Jeffrey Simpson.