The value of taking calculated risks

Every choice we make in life, no matter how big or small, involves some degree of risk. However, there’s a big difference between making informed decisions and just rolling the dice, hoping for the best. A “calculated risk” means you’ve carefully considered the potential advantages and disadvantages of an intended action and concluded that the anticipated benefits outweigh the risk involved.

Calculated risks move us out of our comfort zones, in the direction of our dreams. They do, however, require a little homework. A good starting point is to create a list of pros and cons. Weigh up risk vs reward and assess every likely outcome, both positive and negative. If your end goal is months or even years down the track, identifying and setting checkpoints along the way can assist you to stay on track as you work toward it.

Running your plans past a trusted adviser may highlight additional considerations you have missed. Their words of wisdom and encouragement may support you to find the courage you need to take the next step.

It’s easy to feel paralysed by the thought of worst-case scenarios, but the fear of failure shouldn’t prevent us from striving to accomplish something. What we see as failure can actually be a valuable learning experience, so don’t let small mistakes or setbacks put you off. Failing is an essential part of any success story.

Feelings of fear will rarely correspond with the actual level of risk we’re facing. Take public speaking, many people’s number one dread. Most people don’t think twice about driving, even though car crashes result in many deaths every year, yet public speaking carries a miniscule risk of actual harm. One way of combatting fear is to account for it in our plans.

You may have heard, “Always trust your gut,” though it can be easy to confuse gut instinct with fear. If we interpret discomfort as our gut telling us not to proceed with something, then we may miss out on a lot of opportunities. Calculating risk based purely on our levels of anxiety is likely to keep us exactly where we are.

Taking appropriate risks can make the difference between settling for an ordinary life and living an extraordinary one. Once you’ve done your due diligence, there comes a time when you must decide whether or not you are going to take the plunge. You are the only one who can make that choice.

Grant J Everett, Panorama magazine


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