The other day I sat in a meeting listening to a dear friend talk about her plans of starting a nonprofit that would change the inner lives of women all around the world.
She's used to taking really big risks, but she admitted to feeling a bit nervous about this latest venture, one that pulls together her gifts, dreams and personality in a way that will take everything she's got to give.
I wonder what would happen if we were all willing to pursue a passion in that way -- in every stage of life. I tend to be a pretty passionate person; and shoot, I've taken risks and enjoyed the pain, the beauty and the excitement of those moments. But lately, I've relaxed into playing it safe in my life.
As I get older, I've realized I have more fear in me than I thought. I hate to say it, but at times I've allowed fear to determine how I work, who I commit to and even where I may want to live. I talk a good game, though. I encourage people to "feel the fear and do it (whatever IT may be for each individual) anyway," and then I walk that out in a limited fashion in my own life.
Some may say it's wisdom, fatigue or just a big dose of reality. But I think we just begin to forget how important this quality of living in a certain adventure zone really is to us.
I don't think everyone has to have the same dreams or desires to achieve that feeling. Sure, some may want to start an amazing business or explore their creative gifts, but others may want to simply live farther than 10 miles away from their mother.
A few may want to visit a far-off exotic place just once in their predictable life or finally make an impact on something or someone else.
Whatever it is for each of us, facing our fears, taking calculated risks, living in the adventure are all ways to make the most of what we've been given. And those of us with relatively greater freedom and a little opportunity should take advantage of that, because most people around the world aren't born with such tools.
I know a teenage songwriter who I believe could wow crowds by the thousands one day. I hope she believes it too and takes the risk to try. I admire the activists of our day, who fight for those who can't fight for themselves and remind us that people matter. I am inspired every time I hear of someone who disciplined themselves to do something similar to what I wish to do in life but haven't yet.
Psychologist Gary Leboff says that one should start with very little risk-taking endeavors to build up confidence in taking risks with larger things. He recommends the following strategies, however, to explore risks wisely:
• Don't risk everything. Your dream shouldn't put your life, relationships or finances in total jeopardy.
• Ask for what you want. You will most likely get it.
• Avoid unhealthy risks.
• Start right away.
• Don't worry about what others think. Learn from your past failures.
• If there's nothing to lose, take the risk.
Life is waiting for us all.
Tabi Upton, MA-lpc is a local therapist and writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.