Seems counter-intuitive. Isn’t risk taking what causes fear? Hmm…maybe not. Maybe the fear of the outcome is what keeps us from taking risk, not the risk itself.
I don’t consider myself a natural risk taker. For example the few times I have snow skied I resist going too fast with every bit of my mind and body. I don’t take the risk of trusting my equipment and ability. What ends up happening is a less than enjoyable experience and some extremely sore muscles. And, I probably have more “yard sales” (a crash where my skis go one way, my hat, goggles, and gloves go another way, and I am sprawled out all over the side of the mountain) than if I would just let go and ski!
What am I afraid of? Not the risk. I am afraid of losing control and crashing into a tree or flying off the side of mountain. Sure, some respectful fear of those things is proper, but…
Throughout my life I have struggled with the fear of rejection, failure, disappointment, intimacy, embarrassment…the list is really longer.
One common response to fear is to freeze. We don’t try something out of the fear one or more of the list above will happen to us. It was hard for me to let go and enjoy the thrill of skiing down the mountain. I did everything in my power to resist.
I would like to report that I have conquered that fear, but living in Texas, I don’t get the opportunity often to face that fear.
But I have applied this to other areas of my life with varying degrees of success. I am still conservative in my approach to life, but I have taken many healthy risks over the past 10 years. Here are just a few:
- Applied for jobs I thought myself unqualified to do.
- Left a job after 11 years to move overseas as a volunteer missionary for six months (I convinced Danielle to do the same!).
- Diversified our personal investment strategies.
- Began a new career in writing.
- Became an adoptive parent.
Fear easily could have rendered that list non-existent. But as I began to take risks in these areas, all be it with caution, I not only overcame my fear, but I learned more about my passions, skills, and desires.
So how can you overcome fear by taking risks?
- Make a plan before you jump. Just don’t stay in the planning phase.
- Remind yourself that failure is not final. It is an opportunity to learn.
- Share your plan or idea with trusted friends or mentors.
- If married, agree on the plan. If your children are old enough, let them in on the plan too.
- Set a timetable to carry out the plan.
- Take action.
- Allow room for change in the plan.
- Note or journal about your experience, lessons learned, failures and success.
- Enjoy the ride!
If you have some ideas to add please do so in the comment section. Most of us, if not all of us, need encouragement at least sometimes to help us overcome fear and take proper risks. Or, share a time when you overcame a fear by taking a risk.