Recently I have found myself surrounded by people taking some risk in their life. My husband quit his job of 9 years to go back to school and pursue his lifelong passion in music. My brother has gotten rid of everything he can’t fit on his motorcycle and left town to explore different places and ways of living. A dear friend left a job she was unhappy with because she knew she deserved better. Several people I know are starting up new coaching practices, creating a career centered around their art, or starting small businesses. Aside from being incredibly proud of these individuals, there is always inspiration that comes from watching someone muster up the strength to take a risk, no matter how big or small. Whether it is watching someone go skydiving or simply speaking their truth when others clearly won’t agree, the energy of taking a risk is contagious. It creates a sense of awe and excitement. It seems though, as fortunate as I am to be around many people who will take these risks and keep me inspired, I know just as many that are still working on building up the courage to make their move. Although some of us are more risk adverse than others, there is one general feeling that keeps us from taking risks in our lives- fear.
When I challenge friends, clients or even myself to take a risk the fear is ultimately the big challenge. I will get many reactions ranging from “I wish I could do that” to “I would never be able to do that”. It doesn’t matter if these risks are life altering or small actions they are avoiding. They could be as simple as speaking up in a work situation or as life altering as pursuing a dream career. The fear seems to be the same. The fear of the unknown can consume us. It stops us in our tracks and creates a sense that a particular action is impossible. The moment we give into our fear we feed it. We allow it to grow, gain power over us, and then the risks in our life feel more and more impossible. This is when we get stuck. Stop moving forward. The years pass and then we realize we didn’t control our life, our fear did.
The critical thing to understand is that we can’t get the life we want without taking risks. Fear has no place in pursuing our purpose or passion. True growth in every aspect of ourselves comes from learning in situations where we feel uncomfortable. We have to take on new experiences to allow our true selves to expand, grow and truly live. This is why watching others take risks inspires us. It resonates with the part of us that knows it is the only way to explore and set ourselves free. Getting to the place where we are ready to take risks in our lives takes some work though. We need to build some courage and have confidence in our decisions; not an easy thing for some. Here are a couple steps to practice taking risks till you are ready to move forward with the larger ones you have been dreaming of.
1- List it out. List out everything you stop yourself from doing. Whether it is standing up to your sister or starting a new career; it goes on the list. Read over the list and ask yourself why you haven’t done these things. Notate what you are afraid of. If you are the analytical type rate them with High Risk, Medium Risk and Low risk. Doing this may tell you how risk adverse you are and where some of the fear stems from. Is there a theme? Is there a common fear you need to face? You may find in light of the big risks, the small ones aren’t that risky after all.
2- Start Small. Speak up in a meeting at a moment when you would usually keep your opinion to yourself. Go to a new class that you have wanted to take. If you are someone who has been afraid to go to a movie alone or go to lunch solo- go for it! Making yourself uncomfortable in small ways that don’t have the potential of making life altering impacts is the perfect way to practice and stand up to that fear. You will be shocked at how energized and empowered you feel with some of these small things.
3- Get Inspired. Surround yourself with people, articles or quotes that inspire you to live your life to the fullest. Even if you wouldn’t follow in their footsteps reading about someone taking a stand in the face of adversity or talking with a friend about their newest change in their life will help you find strength. It will energize you and help some of your risks not feel so scary.
4- Find support. Finding someone that will encourage you and help you build confidence will be a great tool in taking risks. Talking through your fears and having someone help you see the reasons you should go for it anyway will feed your strength. It can be a friend, coach, counselor, family member or a virtual friend. Anyone that will help you feel safe and supported can play this role for you, and you can for them. I would encourage you to start with just one or two people. Sometimes risks feel scarier when many people know about what you want to do.
Practice these steps and before you know it you will be living a more fulfilled and empowered life. Want some immediate support? Post some risks you want to take here and I will help encourage and support you! 🙂