Risk taking is more art than science. It requires the balancing of information and action, and knowing you are your own “X” Factor. The good news is risk taking is also an iterative process where you can increase your risk tolerance AND your risk taking results over time.
- First: Know your Risk Tolerance.
Where do you fall on the risk continuum? It ranges from analysis paralysis to cliff diving. Somewhere in the middle is a balanced approach to risk taking. Take a look at some of the important choices you’ve contemplated in your life; where to attend college or graduate school, which job to take or turn down, where to live, who to date, who to marry, if you want children or not (and when)? All of these choice points in your life involved some significant level of risk. To understand your risk tolerance look at any combination of these and see how you typically handle your choice. Pinpoint for yourself, where on the continuum you fall.
- Second: Leverage Your Strengths.
So many of us will blow right by the things we are good at to focus on and try to fix the things we don’t do well. When it comes to taking great risks, most of the time we can mitigate the risk by ensuring the risk leverages our strengths instead of highlighting our weaknesses. If you feel this is completely out of your comfort zone, your risk will rise significantly.
- Third: Be Clear the Reward is Worth the Risk.
At the end of the day, the risk has to be worth it. This is one reason why risk taking is more art than science. If you find you are frozen to the point of panic, than you might need to reevaluate the risk, because the reward is not outweighing the risk for you. The only reward that matters is how you feel about it and not what everyone else might think, say, or feel. You are the ultimate judge of knowing whether you truly want this and why. Be clear about that, and don’t worry about whether it makes sense to anyone else – it’s your risk and it’s your reward.
- Fourth: Relax and enjoy it.
Once you choose, then be all in! People torture themselves constantly by second guessing their choices. DON’T! Instead, look forward. Trust yourself (you know you make great choices!). Relax. And yes, enjoy it! That is part of the fun of taking risks.