“You only have one life and if you’re not doing what you love, what’s the point?”
If you are the kind of person who has goals, ambitions, dreams, and big ideas for your life then you know that taking risks is an essential component of success. Lou Buscaglia said, “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.”
Risk is a natural part of life and the bigger the risk the bigger the reward. I don’t think many people would argue with this point.
Here is the dilemma. When it comes to risk, many people tend to “what if” themselves out of any and every possible idea that might move them in the direction of their goals. What I mean by “what if” themselves is that they imagine all kinds of disaster scenarios that may or may not occur should they take what appears to be a risky action.
Here is a prime example:
I left a ‘safe’ career position within the public sector to pursue my dream business. When I handed in my resignation letter, I had a number of supportive colleagues and some who were not so supportive of my decision. But even the supportive people would talk to me about my big decision and look at me as the ‘lucky one’, or maybe secretly, the ‘mad reckless one’. They seemed to admire my bold move but at the same time would be talking about how they wished they could do something similar.
When I told them that there was nothing stopping them from doing exactly as I was doing, they quickly responded with their “what if” disaster scenarios …
“What if I don’t earn enough money to pay my bills?”
“What if I have an unexpected emergency and don’t have the money to deal with it?”
“What if I make the wrong decision and start the wrong kind of business and it fails?”
“What if I’m not cut out to be self-employed?”
These were just some of the questions I heard, and they were, and are, all valid concerns given that we were talking about walking away from a reasonably well-paid and secure job, but the damage that is being done by imagining these things, and by focusing on them, is where the real problem lies.
Focus on the positive
Not one of those “what if” statements assumed a positive outcome. Not one of those statements talked about all of the good that might happen in the person’s life if they were to walk away from a job they didn’t like in order to pursue a dream business.
While none of these negative scenarios had even taken place yet, their minds convinced them that it was inevitable. They had already convinced themselves that the risks were too great and outweighed any potential rewards.
The only difference between their mindset and my own, was that I was using my imagination to think of all the positive potential outcomes that could come about as a result of leaving my job and pursuing my dream business. I was thinking ONLY of the positive outcomes. I was trusting.
They had the ability to trust as well. In fact they were already doing it but simply didn’t realize it. Every person does this every day.
There is an inherent risk with every single action that you take in your life. Every time you get into a car, there is a risk of being involved in an accident. Every time you go for a walk around your neighbourhood, or walk to work, there is a risk of being mugged. Every time you eat in a restaurant there is a risk of choking or of getting food poisoning. Every time you take a shower, there is a risk of slipping or falling and hitting your head. The list could go on and on …but you get the idea. Nothing is without risk.
The reason that most people don’t worry about these things is that we have come to trust that we are generally going to be safe throughout the course of our day. You were safe yesterday. You will be safe today. Unless something traumatic has happened you probably don’t even think about these kind of disaster scenarios.
Well, the exact same kind of thinking is REQUIRED by the person who wants to pursue a big life goal and take action on the risky steps required to reach that goal. Could you lose money? Yes! Could you go bankrupt? Yes! Could you fall and break your leg? Yes. Welcome to life.
If you are ready, willing, and COMMITTED to achieving great things for your life, then you need to accept that there will be risks, and that you need to change your “what if” questions from negative to positive.
“What if I make it?”
“What if I become wealthy?”
“What if I save a life?”
“What if I become free?”
“What if I overcome my fears?”
“What if I live my life to the fullest?”
Use your imagination to picture your life from that perspective and boldly walk in the direction of your dreams!
Recommended: Stop the Self-Sabotage: How to Love Yourself