Risk seems like such a scary word… No doubt, societally imposed, but “scary.” Regardless, when we hear risk, we almost automatically think there is something to LOSE. Losing implies grief, a loss – possibly the potential of regret. What if we look at this further? Can we shift the idea of losing into the idea of gaining something new?
Why do you have to lose something? Why can’t you view it as moving on from what you had into somewhere new?
We can look at this concept in several relatable examples, but for the sake of time will look at one specific one. “What if I leave the job – the one I’ve been at for 10 years, to follow my heart with something I am truly passionate about?”
One way to look at this potential conundrum is: “I am leaving a job I know. I know how it works. I know what to expect. It is familiar to me.” This is all true. The other perspective: “I am leaving this job but for an opportunity that may open me up to newness – a new experience or a new opportunity? Sure, I won’t know what to expect but what if everything truly magical is on the other of what I don’t know?
What if what I do know is only familiar to me but not necessarily comfortable to me, but I’ve been telling myself those two terms are interchangeable?
This first perspective is the one we often tell ourselves to stay in the familiar, even at the sake of our own unhappiness. Change can be scary, but sometimes necessary.
Substitute the above scenario with a ending a relationship, starting a new romance, beginning to exercise again, stopping drinking, etc. Maybe you’re one of the few people in the perfect job, relationship, circumstance, or whatever. But if you’re not, ask yourself what the narrative is that you are telling yourself to stay stuck. Yes, stuck! In many scenarios you are making an active choice to stay stuck at the risk of what may or may not happen if you make a shift.
I should make a point of saying, there are incidences in which we have to stay. But many times, we choose to remain in what we know at the risk of “what ifs.” Do you want to invest your happiness or unhappiness at the risk of what may never happen, but think could happen? It sounds crazy, right!? Making decisions based solely on fear.
Imagine if you changed your perspective from fear into curiosity or wonder. This is to say, don’t be reckless. You shouldn’t necessarily leave a job without having financial ground to do so – or another job set up, sure, but don’t stay in a situation solely because you’re fearful of what a change will serve up to you. Changing from fear to curiosity – looking at it simply: “What if I leave my job and I have a hard time adjusting and don’t like it!?” (Remember if you changed one thing, you can change back). Curiosity might look like this: “What might happen if I leave my job for a new job? My experience will be different and take time but I won’t know until I give it a try.”
Sometimes everything is on the other side of fear. A central tool in considering change can be met with a simple statement of “weighing out the risk.”
This means, looking at the situation you’re not sound in and beginning to question WHY. Why am I feeling it this way? What is my part in my own happiness or current situation of unhappiness? Is the situation serving me in any way? What would I like to be different? What are the legitimate aftereffects of my potential change? Do I have resources in place to soften my change? Am I creating future narratives of fear rather than legitimacy based on solid evidence? Am I staying in what is familiar but not what is comfortable? What exciting and good things could come from this change?
Weighing out the risk should not drive you to the point of obsessive anxiety. You have to stay evidence based. This is a huge challenge for people because they have beliefs based on their childhood, societal conditioning and life experiences – beliefs that are not always rational or accurate, but are personal. Often times, the only way to change the belief is to literally challenge it – put it to test in a safe manner and see if what you believed in the past remains the same or if you’ve been conditioned to believe so, and are merely functioning in what your used to (but may no longer be accurate merely fear based).
Ask yourself – what do you want to be different in your life? What are you telling yourself about making the change? What is the actual risk? And what are you willing to do to change it?
I leave you with this – the movie Peter Pan interprets RISK in a plethora of metaphors. One that resonates with me is simply put:
The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it