In the West, over the last few generations, there has been a definite trend toward risk aversion. There are many reasons for this, but primary among them was that getting born into one of the countries known as the West (America, UK, Australia etc.) is already a big privilege so to a degree this thinking came out of a desire to not screw up what one already had. Previous generations went to college and were all but guaranteed a job upon completion. Those days have come and gone, with technology and changing values upending all of these old paths that so many people followed.
This presents a problem and that problem is that a lot of people are afraid to take big leaps or strike out on their own. Alternatively, clinging to the status quo and just floating by, may actually be just as dangerous as avoiding making big moves.
One person who has thought about this trend carefully is recent Bond Appetit podcast guest Pete Tansley. In his appearance on the show, Pete relayed to us stories that put some real-life context on the issue at hand. The stories were about looking after his kids and wanting to caution them against dangerous activities like climbing up on things. In doing so he had to stop and have a long think about the message he was sending to his kids. In Pete’s words ‘Do I want my kids to always think about being careful with future career, life and travel decisions? I’m like screw that, f***ing jump. If they fall that sucks, but I’d rather they’d take a chance on what they really want.’
I couldn't agree more with Pete’s philosophy. Now, this isn’t a call for taking stupid or unnecessary risks, it's just an acknowledgment that too many people skew ‘safe’ and many of the biggest prizes in life are on the other side of a big leap.
Here are five ways you can help yourself overcome this aversion to risk.
- Start with small risks. Don’t skydive on day one, slowly ease yourself into systematically taking chances that have big potential payouts. By taking small palatable risks you develop more of a tolerance for it.
- Imagine the worst-case scenario. Take a page out of the Tim Ferriss playbook and do some fearsetting where you imagine the worst that can happen, write out a contingency plan for this, and if you can accept the situation move forward with it.
- Keep the knowledge that nothing in life is certain. If you maintain this perspective you know that you’re never really standing on solid ground and it can help you to foster the courage needed to take bigger strides.
- Don’t confuse risk-taking with gambling. You want to be taking calculated, informed risks (to the degree that you can) not just rolling the dice and hoping for the best. Do your homework and let you prep work build your confidence.
- Set achievable goals. If we have our eyes set on some huge prize it's easier to get discouraged if smalls risk don’t pay off immediately. Don’t overwhelm yourself by jumping all in, ease into it and keep things manageable.
Taking calculated, planned risks to achieve the goals you want in life will ensure that you aren’t one of those people too afraid to try or too comfortable in the flow of other people's dreams to create the life you really want.
Listen to my ntire conversation with Pete Tansley here.
Author: Ronsley Vaz
Ronsley is the founder & chief day dreamer at AMPLIFY. He is an author, speaker & serial entrepreneur.
He has a Masters’ degree in Software Engineering and an MBA in Psychology and Leadership. He is known as the creator of We Are Podcast – the first Podcasting Conference in the Southern Hemisphere, and the host of The Bond Appetit Podcast and Should I Start a Podcast. He has an audience of over 3 million in 133 countries.