Imbolc, impulse. The quickening of new life. A time of action, motion, new beginnings, and taking risks. Starting a new blog, business, creative project, or taking a step towards a major life change can be scary— and it's often at least a little bit risky. You could be a totally beginner in your field, working a day-job while trying to launch your side-hustle, moving to a new country, or starting a new relationship.
In these times, money, security, and comfort are all up in the air in pursuit of what you really want in your life. Sometimes to move ahead we have to make a choice without knowing exactly what the outcome will be. We step forward into murky future full of that dazzling mix of uncertainty and promise.
"Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly."Neil Gaiman
Here are the five things you need to consider carefully before taking a risk.
1. What do you want?
Before you jump head first into a risky decision or venture it's important to get super clear on what result it is that you want. What are you hoping to achieve? What is your ideal outcome? It's important that you nail down the specifics here, just like you would while setting quality goals. If you're buying a course to invest in your business, what do you want to learn from the course? How is it going to concretely improve your business? What changes are you going to make?
You also want to consider what emotional outcome you are looking for. No matter the type of risk, you want to make sure that your choice is going to get you feeling the way you want to feel.
2. What do you risk losing?
This is where you have to be really honest with yourself. It wouldn't be a risk if there wasn't something important at stake. What is it? Are you putting up a little more money than you're comfortable with as an investment? Are you risking your blog or business by refreshing your branding? Are you risking a relationship by coming clean with what you really think or feel about a situation that has been bringing you down?
Sometimes we're tempted to downplay the risk in order to justify making it, because we want the positive outcome. But folks, it's just important to consider how you're going to get by when the thing you were risking is gone from your life for good— whether it's a friend, a lover, or a cheque for $10,000.
3. What is the worst case scenario?
We're almost done with the doom and gloom, I promise. This is what I like to call The Apocalypse Scenario, and although it may seem counter to all of the love, light, and manifesting that has taken the world by storm, it's important to understand that while it probably won't happen, it might, and you're going to have to deal with it.
So get zombie-invasion serious here. What could really go wrong for you? What could happen if your risk backfires and you lose not only what you were intentionally putting on the road of uncertainty, but other things, too? Thinking about this not only prepares you for what may happen, but gives you a serious dose of gratitude-fodder for when it doesn't. When you consider the worst case scenario, a neutral outcome becomes pretty desirable, and a successful outcome all kinds of epic.
4. What is the most realistic scenario?
Now it's time to reel it in a bit, put away the HAZMAT and Nuclear Winter stash. What is the most likely outcome? If you're not sure, it's probably in that fairly unexciting middle area between epic success and epic failure. More likely than not, some aspects of your ideal scenario will come to fruition, and others won't. It's the way of the game.
Get detailed— seriously. Get out a pen and paper and write in detail your most likely, most realistic scenario, and make sure you're okay with this outcome. I would also recommend getting an outside opinion at this point. Often, the scariest part of risks is that we ourselves cannot clearly see the most realistic scenario. We see the polarizing opposites and forget about the hazy grey area in the middle.
5. What are you going to do to get there?
A risk is a type of goal, and with all goals, carefully thought-out and actionable steps are the key to getting a good results. When do you expect to see your risk pay off? How long will it take before you start to see success (or failure)? Is the risk a primary step in implementing a longer term plan?
To get the most out of your risk, break it down into the smallest parts you can. What do you need to do to bring about your ideal scenario? Are there any steps you can take to be as prepared as you can and to help ensure success? Think both long and short term. Break down larger sections of action into small, manageable tasks that you can do today to move towards the result you want.
You've done a lot of thinking and you've approached your risk from many perspectives. All that's left is to decide whether or not to leap.