Blindly leaping into the unknown is not in everybody’s DNA. Fear and risk are inextricably linked. People, in general, are more comfortable when they stick with what they know and hesitate to try new things out of a fear of an unexpected outcome. It is fear of rejection, judgment, failing, making a mistake or just being wrong that can keep us in a holding pattern.
But, the benefits of taking positive, calculated risks make facing — and even embracing — these fears so very worth it.
Taking risks — even small, well-calculated ones — can be impactful. Risks can build your self-confidence and self-respect. Risk allows you to feel powerful, strong and proactive, making things happen rather than waiting for them to happen to you.
Here are three ways taking risk can improve your life in unexpected ways:
Taking risks can make you a happier person.
When the outcome of a decision is unknown, you have to trust your own decision-making. Studies show trusting yourself will make you a happier person. According to a study by the Society for Neuroscience, women who are more trusting show increases in oxytocin, the hormone associated with happiness, and report being more satisfied with life and less depressed.
Taking risks pushes you out of your comfort zone.
To do this, you have to understand why you have created those limits, giving you a better understanding of your own psychology. Before sign up for an aerial yoga, boxing or bootcamp class, you have to first understand why you have been afraid to try it. Once you overcome that fear in one area of your life, you’ll be able to push past more roadblocks you’ve set for yourself.
Taking risks opens you up to new challenges and opportunities.
By going back to school for that degree you were afraid you couldn’t afford or by moving to a new city by yourself, you’ll gain a fresh perspective on life, acquire new skills, and meet different people — all of which works together toward self-improvement.
Taking risks makes you work harder and helps you to become more creative.
If fear is holding you back from learning a new language or going on a mountain climbing retreat, giving it all you’ve got is your best insurance against failure. When you put yourself out on a limb, your natural problem-solving skills will kick in. Tasting the rewards of hard work and creative thinking can inspire you to improve other aspects of your life.
Ready to take a risk?
When you do decide to take a chance on something, prep first. Start by asking yourself this question: what if everything goes right? For many people, our brains process the unknown by coming up with the worst-case scenario. Stop yourself. When your brain begins to calculate what could go wrong when you try an aerial yoga class or audition for community theater, focus on the potential rewards.
Become aware of the excuses you are making for yourself — and stop making them. If you are using defeatist language, change your choice of words. Instead of thinking “I’ll never find love” or “I can’t finish a triathlon,” start telling yourself, “I haven’t met the right person, yet, but I will” or “I will have to train for several months before I sign up for a triathlon, but I will finish it.” When you stop making excuses, you’ll start making progress.
As the saying goes, sometimes, you just have to leap and the net will appear.