Many people are often so afraid of taking a risk that they chose to do nothing and stay stuck. The problem with that is: The pain of doing nothing and staying stuck is often more than the pain of taking the risk.

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Taking Risks (Part 3) – 10 Important Things to Remember

Taking Risks - 10 Important things to rememberMany people are often so afraid of taking a risk that they chose to do nothing and stay stuck.

The problem with that is:

The permanent pain of staying stuck is far worse than the temporary pain of taking a calculated risk to create change

Another common problem is people confusing gambling with taking a risk. To help address both these points here are:

10 important things to remember when taking risks:

1. Is taking this risk moving you toward your vision and goals? If it isn’t something that is taking you to where you want to be, why are you doing it? Make sure you are looking at the big picture so that you are taking the right risks for the right reasons.

2. What do you want taking this risk to achieve? Get clear on what the outcome needs to be. Use this to create an action plan.

3. What do you need to do for this risk to be successful? Taking a risk and crossing your fingers that it will all turn out OK won’t work. Be clear on what you need to do to set youself up to succeed.

4. What is the worst thing that can happen? If you don’t know the answer to this question you can’t assess if it is a risk worth taking or not. Only take calculated risks. Anything else is just gambling.

5. What would you do if the worst happens? ALWAYS have a contingency plan. This is your equivalent of a safety crash mat. Don’t be without it.

6. What needs to be in place to make this risk feel safe? Creating feelings of safety will reduce fear that gets in the way of taking action.

7. Fully assess a risk before acting. If you don’t, it is like buying a house without a structural survey first. You are gambling.

8. Measure progress regularly. This is vital yet often overlooked. This will allow you to spot potential problems before they happen and take evasive action.

9. Focus on the outcome. Once you have made the decision keep focussed on the outcome NOT on what could go wrong. You get what you focus on!

10. Taking Risks is about creating change to get the results you want in your life and work. One of my favourite quotes sums this up perfectly:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did.  So, throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

What are your experiences and thoughts on this topic? Is there anything you would add to this list? Let’s discuss it in the comments section below. 

This is part 3 in a 3 part mini series. You can read parts 1 & 2 here:

Taking Risks (Part 1) – Why Bother

Taking Risks (Part 2) – Why you MUST do it!

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  • Ali,

    Ten great things to remember when risk taking, all too often we fail to properly assess the risk, with honest questions such as these and then wonder why we meet with failure.

    I love, “What is the worst thing that can happen? If you don’t know the answer to this question you can’t assess if it is a risk worth taking or not.”



  • I love that question too. Asking that question diminishes the size of the risk because it creates awareness, you can take action to minimise the possibility of the worst thing happening and you can put in a contingency plan to protect you from the impact of the worst happening. Just from that one question taking calculated risks can become much easier.

  • What you say right at the beginning of your post is so right: so many people avoid risk that they end up stuck. The quote at the end sums it up for me, Ali: get busy living or get busy dying.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post.

  • Glad you liked it Christine. I love that quote too. It pretty much sums up life (and work) in a nutshell.

  • Great Post again, Ali! Paul's liking your “worst question resonates with me. I ask that a lot with my resume clients. There are times when they are afraid to apply for something… worst case scenario… they say no… nothing ventured, nothing gained. And then I teach them how to say thank you for the no… which sometimes can lead them to a Yes!

  • Julie, just asking that question sometimes takes the fear away because the reality is often not as bad as our fears would lead us to believe.

  • josephmorales

    i would like to thank you for coming out with this 3 part series because this has helped me with part of my business part. you the best Mrs. Davies.

  • Delighted you found it useful.

  • Delighted you found it useful.

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  • 1010 Park Place

    Planning for worse case has always been at the top of my risk/reward criteria. Your tips are right on but even armed with these, there are so many people for whom risk is just not in their nature. It’s outside their comfort zone. Brenda

  • That is true Brenda. I was one of those people for a long time. Gripped by fear and totally risk adverse. But I found a way to get past that and not be held back by it. Even if people are currently that way, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. It is always possible to learn new behaviours, mindsets and habits that serve us better and allow us to move forward and create change.

  • Well said Jennifer.

  • Maura Sweeney

    Ali, a great and needful blog about the mental process we go through when creating change in our lives. You are so right in noting that the idea of taking a “risk” is often misinterpreted as a gamble; that misunderstanding causes many to leave their bigger selves untapped and their personal happiness wanting. Keep writing and keep sharing those helpful tips!

  • Maura, delighted you enjoyed the tips and found them useful.

  • 1010 Park Place

    I don’t think I have a filter on my risk taking. The willingness to take a giant leap has allowed me to have experiences most people just dream of. The same lack of risk taking filter has also been life-threatening, more than once, but looking back, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Brenda

  • Brenda, thanks for sharing your experience on the subject. Always interesting to hear different perspectives and approaches.