The only way to truly get the life you want is by taking positive risks and planning a strategy for doing so.
"Unlike negative risks, which are typically impulsive and emotionally driven, positive risks are calculated," says Gail McMeekin, a nationally recognized creativity and HR career coach (www.creativesuccess.com). "You must think them through, and anticipate what could happen, before you jump."
Choosing to find a mentor to help accelerate your career is one way of
taking a positive risk. Develop “a road map” by first deciding if you
want the mentor to be someone inside the company or an outside coach.
Know what style works best for you, someone who is empathetic or a
guide who will more directly challenge you.
While reaching out in new ways initially can be
unnerving, here are 10 benefits of taking a calculated risk:
By going back to school or getting involved in a new professional
association, for example, you challenge yourself in new ways. Realize
you need to risk being a novice when learning something new.
Trepidation diminishes when you choose the right people with whom to
associate. "Networking is hard enough without being in a group of
people who aren’t friendly," McMeekin notes. "Go to a few meetings,
and keep exploring, until you find the right group for you."
Look to see what is being valued in your organization and prioritized
by management. Then, propose new projects you can do in alignment with
these goals. One young manager, who knew the company she was working
for was planning layoffs, developed a PR project outside the scope of
her previous abilities and job description. As a result, her job was
saved when other positions were cut.
To move beyond our internal demons, it helps to look at "the big
picture." Tune into what you really want on multiple levels—mind, body
and spirit. Thinking too small can keep you stuck in fear.
Whether it involves hang gliding, heading a department or changing
careers, new desires for growth are continually “calling?to you. Are
you a techie who really wants to be an interior designer? Experiment
with your options. Take a class. Go to a related event. A would-be
dancer may benefit from taking a salsa lesson.
By taking a risk, you learn: A) Is it the life you really want? B) If
it is the life you want, the steps you need to take show up. A woman
who had been trying to produce her first book unexpectedly met an owner
of a publishing company through Linked In.
If you train yourself to take small risks, and continue building upon
them each week, you change your emotional state away from fear to
getting focused in a new direction. Passion also eclipses fear. Love
what you are aiming to do.
By taking risks in modeling those who are doing the meaningful work you
seek, you can prepare for a longer-term goal. If you want to be
manager, for example, observe those qualities in other managers that
you want to instill in yourself. Take some management development
courses, read books, and review related online websites.
In taking risks that heighten your leadership skills, you are often
stretching the boundaries of your job description. Volunteering for
committees, facilitating training programs, and initiating new product
launches are a few ways to go above and beyond to practice your
Risks build self-confidence and self-respect, helping you feel stronger
as a person and gain the courage to continue taking larger and more
positive risks. "Keep in mind that failure is part of the process,
too." McMeekin says. "Learn to frame risks. They are always an
experiment, but you learn something along the way. If you don’t beat
up on yourself when they don’t work out, they allow you to get more
The payoff of successfully risking is getting what you want, whether it
is more fulfilling work, a pay raise and promotion, or the satisfaction
of completing a new goal. To increase your success at risking, surround
yourself with supportive people who are knowledgeable and cheer you on
beyond the status quo.