Risk. There’s much to be said on this topic.
Go big or go home. Small steps for big changes. Do one thing a day that scares you. All or nothing.
So which way is the right way? Go all in or play it safe?
Heck if I know.
But if I had to wager, I’d be willing to bet it’s not the size of the risk, it’s how we… ummm… use it.
Risk is personal.
When I took off to Southeast Asia for ten weeks by myself, a lot of people said that was taking a big risk. But the truth is it didn’t feel scary to me. It didn’t feel brave. It felt like an adventure.
By a similar token, living paycheck to paycheck for most of my life has often been viewed as a risk by those who crave stability. Yes, this freelance lifestyle is the source of much stress, but I don’t see another option I would prefer, so again, from my perspective this gypsy-esc life feels (largely) risk-free.
To me, risk is investing in a stock market you can’t control, waiting for that raise or promotion that isn’t guaranteed, or driving without a seat belt. Those are risks from where I sit.
I’m not saying my perspective is the perspective. I’m simply pointing out that the oft quoted go for it mentality is a bit oversimplified. Risk, as experienced on an individual level, is highly subjective. What feels like a giant leap for one person may, in fact, feel like a small step to another. Conversely, what may feel like no big deal to you (like cooking from scratch without a recipe) could feel like a huge leap of faith for someone else (I practically break out in hives at the thought of cooking).
Yes, we grow on all levels when we are willing to take risks. But it’s not the risk itself that’s important.
Risk without meaning is pointless.
Why are we taking the risk in the first place?
To prove something? To learn something? To feel something? To become more self-aware? To challenge our beliefs? To feel more alive?
I have to admit, I’m not impressed by people who seek thrills for the adrenaline rush. You jumped off a bridge with a bungee chord tied around your ankles? That’s nice. You ate a live tarantula for a photo op? Don’t plan on kissing me anytime soon.
Like the old Shania Twain song says:
That don’t impress me much.
You know what does impress me? A fireman who walks into a burning building to save a life. A writer who bares their soul so someone else might learn or feel comforted by their story. Parents. Teachers. Artists.
That’s not to say a risk has to be selfless to have meaning. Getting a new haircut, learning how to swim, asking someone out on a date; These can all be meaningful risks if we intend them to be.
Of course, some people take unnecessary risks and put their lives and those of others on the line. These are avoidable risks.
Risk itself is not the reward nor the cure-all for avoiding lives of mendacity.
Risk is inevitable.
Along with paying our taxes and dying, we have to take risks. Big or small, real or imagined, risk happens. That’s part of the package that comes with being born and with being human.
Unless you can predict the future, you’ll have to join the rest of us and take a lot of chances. Wager your bets. Cross your fingers.
But there’s a silver lining!
Where there’s risk, there’s freedom.
I take comfort in knowing that not everything is in my control. I can make decisions based on the evidence before me, but beyond that, it’s out of my hands.
Should you quit your job, or marry that person, or swim with sharks? I haven’t the foggiest. It’s your call. But you can rest a little easier knowing that you’re taking a risk with action and you’re taking a risk with non-action. Either way, after the dust settles, you can only hope for the best and move on from there.
You are in charge of the choice, not the outcome.
Is there a risk you’ve been considering taking, but you worry about making a choice you’ll regret? Remember: Not choosing is just as much a risk as choosing. They are two sides of the same coin.
So which is it?
Heads or tails?