Throughout life, we all experience times when the outcome of a circumstance will be unknown to us. Even the least risk-averse person may experience twinges of fear and uncertainty before plunging into (or tiptoeing towards) risk.
When you are deciding whether to take a leap, consider the following:
Identify the severity of the risk. If you take this risk on, what changes will result from it? Of those, which will create waves in your current life and to what severity will they change the status quo? For example, if you are looking to go back to school, how much debt will you incur? How will your loan payments affect your current lifestyle? Will you be able to keep your quality of life the same or will you need to make sacrifices?
Anticipate all possible repercussions. Don’t think solely about one issue (ex: financial burden of going back to school). Consider the risk from all angles. Will you have the time available not only go to class but also complete your academic work each week? What other sacrifices may you have to make for your dream to become reality?
Keep a pros/cons list. Once you’ve identified what might occur as a result of taking the risk, start outlining the pros and cons. What is the worst that can happen if you take the risk? What is the worst that can happen if you don’t? Not every “con” will necessarily result in a negative impact on your life. Not every “pro” will lead you to your next step.
What are your basic needs? What are your basic survival needs? Where might you be able to cut corners and what are your “non-negotiables”?
What is “failure” to you? If the risk does not result in your intended outcome, will you view that as a failure? Or, will the new strengths and knowledge you gain, your growth, and your resilience be indicators of success?
Is the pain of staying in the same place greater than the fear of moving forward? In most instances, that is a strong indicator that it is time to take a leap!
What is your contingency plan? If all else fails and you encounter each worst-case scenario, what is your plan for disaster relief?
If necessary, modify. In some cases, your pros and cons list may lead you to NOT take the risk. So consider alternatives. For example, if now is not a good time for you to take a student loan, consider a lower-cost, non-credit training course that gives you an introductory overview. Talk to other people who have already taken the risk you were considering. Gain insights from their experiences. Revisit the risk again at a later date, and leap when ready!
-Victoria Crispo, Career Coach, Career Services USA