Personal note

These last two weeks have been filled with many opportunities to meet new  people and to share with them the exciting things I am doing.

As I did so, I reflected upon my past, when I was so shy that the patterns on the wallpaper made more impact on a group than I did.  Now I circulate confidently, smiling, chatting, finding out about other people, making friends, and yes … actually talking about myself.

All of this didn’t happen by accident:  it was part of a calculated plan at self-improvement that I started in 1983, and worked through step-by-step.

Today’s article is about that first step:  recognizing that you may stay in a prison of your own making forever if you don’t act.  I’ll make it easy for you.

Don’t forget:
On May 19, I am proud to be a presenter at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation’s FREE heart health screening.  If you are in or near Minneapolis, please join us for this value-laden event, featuring

  • Heart health presentations at 9, 10 and 11 AM
    – Stress management  (THAT”S ME! – at 10 a.m.)
    – Heart-healthy eating
    – Exercise for every body
  • Nordic walking demonstrations
  • Healthy living resources and displays
  • Prizes and more!

Saturday, May 19, 2012
8 AM – 1 PM
Richfield Community Center – Nicollet and Augsburg Rooms
7000 Nicollet Ave. S

Please join us.

Why take a risk?

Some people take risks more readily than other people. And risks can be a little scary, whether they involve making a major career change and/or cross-country move, asking for a promotion or a raise, declaring your affection to someone else when you’re not sure how that person feels, or when it necessitates speaking up to someone whose behavior has been making you unhappy. Risks come in all sizes and shapes.

The first thing to remember is that it is impossible to avoid  risks  –  life is full of them.

First of all, there are Imposed risks:  things that happen to us that we can’t avoid – floods and tornadoes come to mind  –  with the possibility of leaving you feeling helpless and victimized, as do financial disasters, broken relationships, and any situation you can’t control.

That sense of a loss of control is what makes stress so stressful – in fact it is the key factor in determining whether we view an event as stress or as a challenge.

Then there are Chosen risks:  Actions you deliberately take to get something you want or to get away from something you don’t want.  With a chosen risk, there is always the possibility of embarrassment, failure and loss.

Why would anyone choose to take a risk when it may be accompanied by lots of anxiety?

It can result in a rich reward and – think of this, you will never know whether you could have gotten what you wanted if you never try. Even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you want, the long term consequence of that risk-taking act can be positive because you become more resilient and able to deal with imposed risks more easily.

Do you feel safer when you don’t take a risk?  Research indicates that, at the end of their lives, people don’t worry about what they have done.  They worry about what they have not done. As John Greenleaf Whittier said, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, “It might have been.”

Here’s a little exercise to get you started:

Think of a risk you would like to take. What is the worst thing that could happen?

This is called the “worst case scenario.”  Why would you want to think of that?

Because it is the bogeyman that is keeping you from even thinking deeply about taking the risk.  Facing it is necessary if you want to move forward.

On a scale of 0 to 100, what is the probability the worst will happen? Take a minute to think about this. You may find, to your surprise,  that the probability isn’t really all that high, but you have been acting as if it is 100%.

If the probability is less than 50% that it will turn out badly, you are in a good position to go ahead.  It is probably a lot less than 50%.

Finally, can you handle the feelings, or are you undermining yourself by saying, “it will be soawful if this doesn’t work out?”  Will it really, or are you being dramatic?

Risk-taking doesn’t have to be scary or dramatic; it’s a skill, and it can be learned and practiced, just like any other skill you might want to acquire in order to enrich your life.

Next week, we will look at how to set up a risk so it is not so risky at all.