Overcoming the fear of taking new risks

What you need to know:

  • Focus your mind on what you stand to gain and let your excitement motivate you. But also recognise that moving on means letting go of your old identity.

Life is full of choices such as whether to move from a boring but safe job to a more rewarding but riskier one. Or to start a new business. Or to end a bad relationship and try to find a better one. But however attractive any new direction might seem, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by doubts. And to find yourself unwilling to let go of what you have.

That happens because our brains are programmed to pay more attention to what might go wrong than to what might go right. So suddenly you fear losing what you have, become more pessimistic and afraid, and feel unable to move forward. But being indecisive could mean you miss the opportunity of a lifetime.

So, how can you avoid getting stuck like that?

Start by asking yourself what’s the best and worst that could happen, whether or not you make the change. Like the upside of leaving a bad relationship is that you’ll almost certainly find a better one. While the downside could be a period of loneliness. Stay put and you won’t be alone, but you’ll still be unhappy.

Now start making plans to cope with the worst that can happen. Like deal with the fear of being alone by reconnecting with old friends.

Becoming pessimistic and afraid can also make you unwilling to take action. But doing nothing is usually the worst option of all. So how can you get yourself moving? The best way is to decide not to worry about the bigger issues unless they actually come along, and turn them instead into a series of small challenges that can be tackled one at a time. Like putting aside the fear that your business idea might fail, and instead putting more effort into finding potential clients.

If you’re thinking about leaving a job that bores you, then make sure that the new job will offer you work that you really love. Because if you’re building on something you’re really care about, then the chances are you’ll be very successful.

Above all, focus your mind on what you stand to gain and let your excitement motivate you. But also recognise that moving on means letting go of your old identity. So work on the things in your life that will remain stable, like your family, so you have a place to retreat to if things get too tough. Find people who’ve already done what you’re considering doing, and ask for their advice and support. Develop a ‘can do’ attitude and avoid putting the real challenges off.

So, for example, don’t spend a huge amount of time developing complicated financial analyses before your new business has a single client. That’s just procrastinating. By all means do some planning, but what really matters is going out there and getting started!

So, commit to your idea, prepare to deal with how the changes will affect you, and persevere. There’s far more to lose by staying put.