RISKY BUSINESS

RETIREMENT COACHING – DEBBIE DRINKARD GROVUM      Laden with denim jackets on hangers, two young men ran past me in the mall parking lot, jumped in a waiting car and yelled “drive, drive” to the nervous young woman behind the wheel.  It wasn’t until I noticed the security guard with a walkie-talkie to his ear looking around, that I realized the men had stolen the jackets.  Realizing what was happening, I noted the license number as the car drove away and gave it to the security guard.  For one brief, exciting moment I lived my long-time fantasy of working in law enforcement.  After college, I thought about applying to work for the FBI when they were interviewing on campus but worried that I would be too scared to actually pursue dangerous criminals.  So I followed the safer, and more suitable for me, education career path.

I have no career regrets, but as I was planning a lesson on the benefits of taking risks, I was reminded of my experience with the shop lifters and the excitement I felt.  Taking risks helps us accomplish life goals by moving us forward.  Without putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations, we pretty much guarantee that we will stay in the same place.  Taking risks also builds confidence.  Stretching a bit and then savoring our success helps us to redefine our capabilities.

One of my workshop students described how much stronger and confident she felt after sky diving.  Risks don’t have to be as dramatic or death-defying as sky diving to help us feel more confident and accomplish our goals.  When asked to identify some risks that would help them accomplish their goals, students identified a variety of activities, including: joining a gym, going to a support group and giving a child the choice of which parent with whom to live.

Edwin Locke, goal-setting theorist, notes that fear is the main thing that keeps people from taking risks and accomplishing their goals.  Common fears include failure, disappointment, disapproval, being hurt, being vulnerable and standing up for one’s values.

In Creating Your Best Life, Caroline Adams Miller and Dr. Michael B. Frisch suggest the following ways to take more risks.

  1. Practice interval training.  Athletes build muscle and endurance by pushing their bodies to about 85% of their limits for one to four minutes and then return to less rigorous exercise.  Do the same technique to expand risk-taking ability.  Briefly go outside your emotional comfort zone, return to a safe level and then do it again.  Gradually you will adapt to the discomfort and increase your ability to take risks.
  2. Use consciousness-raising to see an outcome you do or don’t want.  Familiarize yourself with an example of what might happen if you take no action or find a role model of the outcome you want.
  3. Visualize yourself taking the risk you are contemplating.  It can be more effective to visualize yourself doing the activity through the eyes of someone else.  See yourself successfully taking the risk through the eyes of a good friend or family member.

Want to take more risks and accomplish your goals? Think about the following.

  1. What fears are keeping you from trying something new?
  2. How would your life be different if fear didn’t prevent you from taking action?

What is a small risk you could take?

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