I think the biggest career risk you can take is to not take any. That’s a gamble that could really cost you. If you never pull the trigger on any of your goals or dreams, you’ll just stay stuck.
“I had to make you uncomfortable, otherwise you never would have moved” - Universe
We take comfort in the belief we have control over what happens. The reality is, generally speaking, we have very little awareness of just how much things can change in an instant, despite our best efforts to keep things the same. Taking, small, calculated risks and committing to making decisions differently over and over is the way to change. Risk taking is a part of career + business and some of us manage risk better than others. Risk might mean putting yourself in a position where you face rejection, failure, loss and a significant level of discomfort. During periods of uncertainty, we tend to prefer "playing it safe". That's okay, and sometimes called for but if you're seeking change, prepare yourself for it. Below are some ideas to consider for those of you who find that risk taking isn’t your strong suit but are also not happy with the status quo.
As we get older, or more experienced, there might be a tendency to avoid risk more often. Why? We start to believe we have too many people counting on us, too many responsibilities and frankly, just too much to lose. We might even feel as though we just don’t have the bandwidth or energy to expend.
If you are avoiding something you have a deep longing for because you believe you have too many responsibilities to take a risk, there are some practical things you can do:
You can practice. The more you practice taking a risk, the more comfortable you'll become with the emotional discomfort that can accompany it. I'm not suggesting doing something careless, I'm saying perhaps consider pushing yourself a little. Why not make a practice of doing something every day that takes you a little out of your comfort zone? Take a few minutes to brainstorm some ideas. These could be anything from speaking up in a meeting about how you really feel, to approaching someone new about an idea, or even wearing a bolder colour than you normally would in an effort to express more of who you are on the inside.
Vet your risk. When you take a calculated risk, you are giving up some comfort in the short term for a potential long-term gain. So, do the math. Identify obstacles, do a pros and cons list and see how many variables you can actually account for. Get honest with yourself about what you're afraid of. Question it and get clear on the facts. Fear is not something that simply plops into your lap. You feel afraid because you are thinking fearful thoughts about something. Fear needs to be fed to survive and you can decide to feed it less or even altogether. Fear-based thoughts create a response in your body that you label fear. It's your brain warning you of danger but your brain can get it wrong. This is why you need to challenge and question. Your brain won't agree but you can take a risk without being irresponsible, careless, or in real danger.
Taking a risk can bring about intense and often contradictory reactions ranging from panic to excitement depending upon your own risk-taking tolerance and style. A little planning and intention can help you navigate the road less traveled while potentially even inspiring others to do the same.
Ready to take a risk? Let me know!
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