The Enormous Upside of Risk

Playing it safe will sink you. Risks big and small will energize you.


If there's one way to make sure the energy in your life seeps away in ever-downward spiral, it's to always play it safe.

When you play it safe, you stick with what's known. You don't venture outside your current comfort bubble, because "out there" lurks uncertainty and doubt. You don't want to risk trying something and stumbling, or worse yet, failing completely. And so you coast along on autopilot.

But staying in your comfort bubble is a huge risk in itself. What's more, it's a risk with predictable negative results. If you don't take any new steps or introduce any new potential into the picture, eventually stagnation sets in. And once stagnation finds you, it tends to move in and make itself at home. It doesn't go away by itself.

To show stagnation the door, you need to inject new stimulation and new possibilities. The only way to do that is to step outside your bubble and take some risks. Not necessarily big, bet-the-farm risks. They might be smaller, like trying something new that you feel nervous about, or putting yourself in an unfamiliar situation.

It's impossible to take a risk on autopilot. It forces you into action, and requires you to engage.

Try this: Make a list of risks—big and small—that you would like to take if you didn't have any fear. What would you do? What are you drawn to? What are you holding yourself back from?

Once you have the list, pick a risk and take it. Start small if you want. Then pick another, and another. Create a "positive risk" habit and energize your life.

After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.