Why You Need to Take Risks to Succeed

Imagine for a moment…

You have this amazing idea for a product, and you want to start your own business. You know there is a demand for it, and it could be the start of something big. But you need to purchase a good camera. Materials. A website. You need to spend a few weekends doing the actual creating. Suddenly your months in, $500 out and you aren’t ready yet. You still need more time. You have to make another big purchase. Your excitement is waning. Your confidence dropping. And you decide to stop. You decide that it might be better to save what you can than to take those final steps. You can’t make that final commitment.

Or maybe you love illustration and you want to build your online portfolio. Reach out with social media. Maybe get some clients and start a side hustle doing what you love. You have everything ready, but you just can’t pull the trigger. You can’t put yourself out there. Can’t change that setting from private, to public.

You can’t take that last step that stands between you and something you’ve always wanted.

Any of this sound familiar?

For a little context, I did something big today.

In the grand scheme of things this will seem small to you, but for me it was monumental.

I love making jewellery. I find it deeply relaxing, and it’s fun to be able to make something that suits my style and tastes. I’ve spent so much time designing new pieces, and I enjoyed it so much so that I thought about opening an Etsy store to share what I make.

But that never happened. I had all these designs ready to go and a name for the store. The beginnings of a plan were in place. I knew what I needed to do. What I needed to buy. My cart was filled and ready to go. All I had to do was click order.

But I didn’t.

The more I dwelt on the idea the more formidable – the more frightening it seemed to become. The more I worried I became that I was in over my head and I would end up wasting my time and money.

So I came up with excuses:

‘I can’t do this right now because I’m busy.’

‘It’s too big of an investment right now.’

‘I’m preoccupied with this other project.’

I tried waiting for the right time. When the stars aligned, my bank account was unusually flush, and for whatever reason, my weekend was totally free. I kept putting it off for a moment that would never come and making up excuses because I was afraid.

And that was two years ago. Two years I’ve spent sitting on this idea that I am so excited and passionate about. I realized that I would never do it if I continued to let that fear and doubt stop me. And that was so much worse than taking the chance.

So I did it. I clicked that order button. And if I’m being honest, I’m still pretty scared. I’m still wondering if I made a mistake and if I should hurry into my account and cancel my order. I feel sick from equal parts fear and excitement. I’m finally taking that last step and doing what I wanted to do. And now I’m here, writing this blog post to encourage you to do the same.

Yes, it is scary

This is the first and most important thing to accept. You are taking a risk. You are spending precious time and money, and all the research and preparation in the world, while it will certainly improve your chances, will not guarantee your success. You might do everything right and still not make it. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that isn’t a possibility, for any of you or for me. You are going to have to take risks and continue to take risks, and that fear is not going to go away. Take it in stride and keep moving.

Accept that you might be uncomfortable and do it anyway

People don’t like change. Things that are unfamiliar naturally put us in a state of discomfort. The bigger the impact it will have on your life, the more change you’re going to feel. And that resistance it creates is entirely natural. Which, unfortunately, means you’re going to have to accept that discomfort as part of the process. I’m not talking about a one-and-done sort of situation. Be prepared not only for immediate change but big, long-term, life-altering change as you commit to chasing your goals.

Get prepared

The best thing you can do to mitigate that fear and anxiety is to prepare. Research. Know what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to do it. Have a plan in place. Know your budget and save what money you can. Caution is important. It makes us more aware. But be careful not to spend all of your time in the preparation stage ’cause I know how tempting it can be. It gives you the feeling of working towards something without any of the actual commitment. Do what you can to prepare yourself, and know that it isn’t possible to know everything.

Set a deadline

Do not do what I did. Preparation is important, but don’t think you can prepare forever. If you wait for ‘the right time’, you will never start. Because life gets messy and unpredictable. And it’s better you learn to roll with the punches right from the start because it’s not going to get any neater once you do. Give yourself a deadline, and if you need to, break it down into smaller steps to keep you on track.

Tell people what you are planning

This has to be the biggest motivator. Tell someone in your life what you are planning on doing. Tell them of the deadline. Your goals are not their responsibility, but if they ask you how it’s going the next time you see them, you’re going to hope you have something to tell them that isn’t ‘I haven’t started yet.’ The effect is especially strong if they are genuinely interested in what you’re doing. They’re going to keep asking you about it. They’ll keep pushing you, however unintentionally. Telling someone makes your intentions concrete and that throwaway idea becomes something you are actively working on. There is no going back once it’s out of your head and out in the world.

In the end, there are no shortcuts or easy alternatives. You have to put yourself out there. You’re never going to wake up one day and have the life you’ve always wanted. It doesn’t work like that. If you don’t try to create change, nothing around you will change. And change is scary. Change is new. It’s so easy to forgo the risks in favour of what is safe and familiar. And for some, that’s enough. What they know is all they need, and they are perfectly satisfied in that place.

But what if you’re not? What if you know, deep down, that you could do something more? Be something more? If only you dared. If only you took that chance on yourself?

At some point, you’re going to have to take a leap of faith. You can’t control everything. You’ll never have all the facts. There will never be a right time. Life isn’t that generous. You have to take the last step. The one that has you the most afraid. The one that makes you the most uncomfortable. Because that step is the most important one.

And it doesn’t have to be a big step. What I did today, for example, would not be considered a huge risk to many of you. But it was to me. Because of what it represents in my life. I’m taking the risk, knowing that it might not pay off. I might do everything right, still fail and find myself stuck with a bunch of product I can’t get rid of. I guess in the end that is the difference – would you rather remain in the safety of where you are currently, or would you rather try despite knowing that you might fail?

That is what the risk is really worth.

I would rather keep failing and learning from those failures than continue as I am, letting my goals slip through my fingers. It’s going to be a lot of work, and honestly, it’s scary. Taking risks is scary. Putting yourself out there is downright terrifying because it means you can fail. It means you are vulnerable, but you have to be willing to be vulnerable to grow. The plant does not sprout if it doesn’t first break out of its seed.

Cathartic is the best way I can describe how I’m feeling right now. I’m still kinda freaking out about the whole thing, but right along with the fear is the excitement. The possibility. There is a strength there that I didn’t realize I needed. That I had all along but couldn’t see.

But I do now.

I decided enough was enough.

And now it’s your turn.

Have you ever let the risks hold you back from doing something you’ve always wanted? How did you overcome that fear and uncertainty? If not, how do you plan to overcome them? As always, let me know in the comments!

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