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by Reinventing Her by Tresa Leftenant, CFP® about a month ago in advice
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By Tresa Leftenant


Have you ever held back from doing something because it was too risky? We probably all have at one time or another. Taking a chance usually means there is something to lose, and people shy away from losing. Let’s face it, no one wants to lose. Still, taking chances is an integral part of life, and if we want our lives to improve, we have to become more aware of what we are willing and not willing to risk.

Sometimes when life becomes a little troubling, we forget the times when we took a chance on something and it worked out for us. When we look ahead, our fear of the unknown can keep us struck in the very conditions we are struggling to change.

Take a moment and look back on your life. Think of a time, or times, when you took a chance at something, big or small, at work or in your personal life.

Now identify a time when you made a mistake (something you wish you could go back and do differently). Again, either big or small, at work or in your personal life.

Now take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the center, dividing the paper into two halves with the following two headings:


Answer the following questions:

What does it mean to take a chance/risk?

What does it mean to make a mistake?

What link do you see between the two phrases?

Where do you focus most of your time and energy on…

a) taking a chance, or

b) avoiding making a mistake?

How does your concern about mistakes impact your willingness to take chances?

The biggest risk in life is not the possibility of making a mistake, but never trying in the first place.

The truth is that we are constantly taking chances in life whether we want to admit it or not. When you get on a plane, cross a street, or just walk down the sidewalk, you run the risk of something bad happening. As much as we try, we cannot completely avoid risk.

People sometimes think that doing little or nothing is safer. That isn’t always the case. Doing nothing can actually have a negative result, in that when we think we are minimizing risk in one way, we are actually increasing risk in another way.

Many women want to talk to me about how unhappy they are, with their job, their husband or their finances. I notice many have chosen to live a “should” life. They follow the ideas and urgings of others, instead of the inner whisperings of their soul, because they don’t want to make mistakes or be judged as foolish or a failure. They feel safer following the path of others. What they end up experiencing is a life of mediocrity, where meaning is missing and frustration is routine. By following the crowd, they risk reaching their full potential and experiencing exquisite joy and long term happiness.

I help my clients investigate their comfort zone and how seductive it can be. Everyone desires comfort, but too much comfort can work against us, because an inability to step out of our comfort zone limits our ability to feel joy and reach our potential. The basis for avoiding risk is born from our fears. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of change, even fear of success. Being trapped by fear and refusing to take a chance leads to a safe, boring, and average life. People with this mentality miss the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to thrive. They miss the opportunities to be all that they can be and experience the wonders of life that are all around us.

We explore, discover and maximize our potential for joy, meaning and success only by having the courage to take risks.

There are 5 key reasons why people avoid taking risks.

Failure – I might not get what I’m aiming for.

Exposure – If it doesn’t work out, everyone will know and it will reflect negatively on me.

Embarrassment – If I push for something, and it doesn’t work out, I could be judged by others.

Rejection – If the risk fails, I could be rejected by others.

Loss – If I try something new or different, I might have to give up what’s familiar.

Despite the powerful and often debilitating obstacles that prevent people from going after their dreams, there are even more empowering and inspiring perspectives that can motivate you to take risks.

Take the Plunge –Taking action towards achieving what you want is not really a risk. Action, no matter how small, will create positive movement forward. It always gives you more experience and confidence for the next time.

Say ‘Yes’ to Life – Life isn’t about obligations, commitments and to-do lists. Life is about being able to say ‘no’ to the distractions and ‘yes’ to the things that matter most to YOU! Life passes far too quickly, and before we know it, we look back and realize we didn’t say ‘yes’ enough.

Go Out on a Limb – The view will be much better from there, and you are bound to find some fruit. Climb with care, look around, and enjoy the rewards of your efforts. Then climb higher. Step-by-step you will get there.

Swing for the Fences – If you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise. Most people spend too much time pondering what won’t work and as a result justify why it’s best to ‘play it safe.’

Roll the Dice – Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do. If you’re going to do it, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail – Our life is full of failures we don’t even think about. But it’s also full of successes too. When we realize our failures are not catastrophic, we become more willing to take risks. Build your failure and success ‘muscle’ by taking smaller risks, then building up to larger ones.

Believe in Yourself – At the end of the day, success in taking chances is about believing in yourself. Believe that you have what it takes and you can do it. If you are crippled with self-doubt you will not take the action necessary to get your secret dreams out of your head and into your life!

She took the risk and built her wings on the way down!

If you look logically at what you stand to lose and what you stand to gain, and make an educated decision, you truly can't lose when taking chances. In fact, if you are consistently taking risks in life you will ultimately come out ahead.

Thomas Edison failed thousands of times when creating the light bulb before he finally succeeded. Jack Canfield’s book Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 140 times before a publisher said yes. No matter how many failings we experience, we only need to succeed once. Don’t let your fear of failure stand in the way of the success you deserve!

Happiness in life comes from acknowledging the need for change, and being willing to try something new because the status quo is no longer working. With this in mind, taking chances offers great rewards, and being right on just one risk you’re willing to take is all you need to change your life forever.

Napoleon Hill is often quoted, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve…regardless of how many times you have failed in the past or how lofty your aims or hopes may be.”


For the full self-study course on Taking a Chance to Change Your Life, email [email protected]


About the author

Reinventing Her by Tresa Leftenant, CFP®

Creator of The Money Stress Solution: 7 Essential Inner Habits for More Confidence, Clarity, and Financial Wellbeing for Suddenly Single Women

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