How do you feel about risk?

If you are anything like me, it scares you and you try to avoid it.  I’m the type of person who needs to know what is going to happen before I make a decision or make a move and it is beyond frustrating.  Even in things as simple as accepting an invitation for a date, exciting right? Not for me, I wait and wait and wait, and sometimes the opportunity passes me by.  It’s the same in other areas of my life like my career.  It took me a while to decide to leave my full time job because I was afraid to leave the security, and the thought of being an entrepreneur seemed too risky.  I often think about why I react this way.   When I look at the definition of risk it involves the words danger, injury, loss, harm.   No wonder, I react the way I do!  My brain is trying to protect me from harm, based on my past experiences.  I tend to spend more energy thinking about “what could go wrong”, instead of just taking it on and experiencing “what is happening” in the moment.

There is a great quote that states: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  Over the years I’ve come to learn that it is in fact true.  I did finally leave my job and what an exhilarating feeling!  Of course,  I did say to myself: “I should have done that a long time ago” yet I am able to not judge myself for how long it took to make my decision.  It took as long as it took; and, I have learned that regardless of the time it takes to act on the decision, if I keep focused on what I want, and have people keep me accountable for what I want, then it will happen.  As long as I take action!  

So if you are a little risk averse like me, and are struggling with making a decision, do what I now do:

  1. Call my “accountability buddy”.  This is a person who knows what I’m committed to and is clear about what is important in my life.   I share with her the decision I’m trying to make and let out all of the concerns, worries and fear I am experiencing.
  2. My buddy listens without interrupting and then once I’m done she asks me the following questions: “Is this important to you?  Why?” “Does this align with what you are committed to?”
  3. If I answer yes to both questions then I am clear that all my doubts and fears are unfounded, they are coming from my brain that is perceiving the decision as risky and dangerous.  
  4. I make the decision and declare what actions there are to take in alignment with the new decision and my accountability buddy holds me to account for taking those actions when I said I would.

Now, you can do this exercise without an accountability buddy, however, I find it’s important to have an impartial person to work things out with especially if the decision has really triggered the ‘Fight or Flight’ mechanism in my brain.  When that has been activated there is no room for rational thought!  The anxiety and fear have taken over.  My accountability buddy is able to bring me back to reality and relax.   To conclude, I’ll leave you with one more lesson I’ve learned:  Nothing is truly set in stone, if a decision I make turns out to not have the outcome I expected, I can simply make another decision and take different actions!

Written By: Simone Vitellaro