Personal Growth Through Calculated Risk

Reviewed Aug 11, 2017

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Summary

  • Step outside your comfort zone to get out of a rut.
  • Try new physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual activities.

Comfort isn’t always good. It can lull us into complacency, deaden our senses, and leave us feeling bored and unhappy. For example, we may get so used to air conditioning that we refuse to venture outdoors for a significant portion of the year. Or we may become so accustomed to traveling the same route to work that we drive on automatic pilot. As a result, our world becomes smaller.

New experiences, on the other hand, can be invigorating. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, it may be time to stretch your comfort zone and take some calculated risks—risks for which the potential benefits outweigh the potential costs. Calculated risk may be as daring as sky diving or as mundane as asking someone new out to lunch. The point is to expand your boundaries and, thus, your possibilities.

Tips about risk taking

Stepping outside our comfort zones forces us to live in the present. When we put ourselves in a new situation, we must pay attention. For example, if you’re scrambling up a rocky trail with a 50-foot drop to the side, you can’t be thinking of a project due next week or a vacation you’re planning next year—you must deal with the moment. You must feel the grip of your fingers on the rock and think carefully about how you place your feet.

  • A little bit of fear can be good. It can leave you feeling alive and hopeful.
  • Katharine Hepburn once said: “There’s nothing more important in life than overcoming fear. People who never learn how to do that grow up soggy.”

Taking a risk, whether physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual, forces us into the unknown, and that’s where discovery happens. Say, for example, you decide to hike up a mountain. You’re expecting the view at the top to be the reward. Along the way, however, you turn a corner and stumble upon another hiker who has twisted an ankle, and you are the one to offer him a cell phone, a kind word, or a drink of water. The discovery—or the reward—may be that you made a new friend or found yourself to be competent in a crisis.

  • Often our most important moments and insights come from the unexpected. Welcome such moments; seek them out.

When taking a risk, be prepared for the initial shock and discomfort. When you put yourself in a different environment—on a mountain or at a party with new people—your mind and body will take time to adjust. For example, when you first start hiking up a hill, it takes awhile for your body to get used to the slant and the extra exertion. Once your body finds a rhythm, you will start to relax. The same holds true for any new situation—a new class, a new friend, a new job. The first moments will be awkward, but trust that you will adapt.

  • Accept that there will be moments when you feel afraid, uncomfortable, or incompetent, and do it anyway.
  • Give yourself room for trial and error. Give yourself permission to fail.  

Activities to stretch your comfort zone

Don’t be afraid to start small. You may try 10 things and find you hate nine of them. That’s OK. It’s the process, the discovery, the self-knowledge that leads to growth. Whatever risk you choose, prepare for it, commit to it, and then complete it. Afterward, assess the situation. Whether you’ve failed or succeeded, congratulate yourself for taking the chance. Consider trying some of the following activities.

Physical:

  • Rock climbing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Any endurance sport—running, cycling
  • Any outdoor adventure (try a guided outing) 

Emotional:

  • Tell the truth.
  • Ask for what you want.
  • Say “no” to things you don’t want to do and “yes” to things you do want.
  • Move to your dream location.
  • Go to a party/event alone. 

Intellectual: 

  • Read a different type of book or see a different type of movie.
  • Learn about something that intimidates you—for example, the stock market or algebra.
  • Try out for a community theater production.
  • Write a short story.
  • Hire a life coach. 

Spiritual:

  • Experiment with meditation or prayer.
  • Go on a retreat.
  • Learn about another religion or philosophy.
  • Be silent. 

Some activities, such as travel, may involve all four elements. 

Remember, as with so many things in life, taking calculated risks is a balancing act. You should be open to risk, but you still need to listen to your inner voice. If you know you hate roller coasters, then riding one won’t do anything for you. Listen to your body. If you’re running and feel more than the usual strain, then stop. Don’t try risk for the sake of risk. Make sure the risk you choose stands a better chance of enhancing your life than harming it. 

By Amy Fries
Source: The Comfort Trap (or, What If You’re Riding a Dead Horse?) by Judith Sills, PhD. Penguin Books, 2004; Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan J. Jeffers. Fawcett Book Group, 1988; Right Risk: 10 Powerful Principles for Taking Giant Leaps With Your Life by Bill Treasurer. Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc., 2003.

Summary

  • Step outside your comfort zone to get out of a rut.
  • Try new physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual activities.

Comfort isn’t always good. It can lull us into complacency, deaden our senses, and leave us feeling bored and unhappy. For example, we may get so used to air conditioning that we refuse to venture outdoors for a significant portion of the year. Or we may become so accustomed to traveling the same route to work that we drive on automatic pilot. As a result, our world becomes smaller.

New experiences, on the other hand, can be invigorating. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, it may be time to stretch your comfort zone and take some calculated risks—risks for which the potential benefits outweigh the potential costs. Calculated risk may be as daring as sky diving or as mundane as asking someone new out to lunch. The point is to expand your boundaries and, thus, your possibilities.

Tips about risk taking

Stepping outside our comfort zones forces us to live in the present. When we put ourselves in a new situation, we must pay attention. For example, if you’re scrambling up a rocky trail with a 50-foot drop to the side, you can’t be thinking of a project due next week or a vacation you’re planning next year—you must deal with the moment. You must feel the grip of your fingers on the rock and think carefully about how you place your feet.

  • A little bit of fear can be good. It can leave you feeling alive and hopeful.
  • Katharine Hepburn once said: “There’s nothing more important in life than overcoming fear. People who never learn how to do that grow up soggy.”

Taking a risk, whether physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual, forces us into the unknown, and that’s where discovery happens. Say, for example, you decide to hike up a mountain. You’re expecting the view at the top to be the reward. Along the way, however, you turn a corner and stumble upon another hiker who has twisted an ankle, and you are the one to offer him a cell phone, a kind word, or a drink of water. The discovery—or the reward—may be that you made a new friend or found yourself to be competent in a crisis.

  • Often our most important moments and insights come from the unexpected. Welcome such moments; seek them out.

When taking a risk, be prepared for the initial shock and discomfort. When you put yourself in a different environment—on a mountain or at a party with new people—your mind and body will take time to adjust. For example, when you first start hiking up a hill, it takes awhile for your body to get used to the slant and the extra exertion. Once your body finds a rhythm, you will start to relax. The same holds true for any new situation—a new class, a new friend, a new job. The first moments will be awkward, but trust that you will adapt.

  • Accept that there will be moments when you feel afraid, uncomfortable, or incompetent, and do it anyway.
  • Give yourself room for trial and error. Give yourself permission to fail.  

Activities to stretch your comfort zone

Don’t be afraid to start small. You may try 10 things and find you hate nine of them. That’s OK. It’s the process, the discovery, the self-knowledge that leads to growth. Whatever risk you choose, prepare for it, commit to it, and then complete it. Afterward, assess the situation. Whether you’ve failed or succeeded, congratulate yourself for taking the chance. Consider trying some of the following activities.

Physical:

  • Rock climbing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Any endurance sport—running, cycling
  • Any outdoor adventure (try a guided outing) 

Emotional:

  • Tell the truth.
  • Ask for what you want.
  • Say “no” to things you don’t want to do and “yes” to things you do want.
  • Move to your dream location.
  • Go to a party/event alone. 

Intellectual: 

  • Read a different type of book or see a different type of movie.
  • Learn about something that intimidates you—for example, the stock market or algebra.
  • Try out for a community theater production.
  • Write a short story.
  • Hire a life coach. 

Spiritual:

  • Experiment with meditation or prayer.
  • Go on a retreat.
  • Learn about another religion or philosophy.
  • Be silent. 

Some activities, such as travel, may involve all four elements. 

Remember, as with so many things in life, taking calculated risks is a balancing act. You should be open to risk, but you still need to listen to your inner voice. If you know you hate roller coasters, then riding one won’t do anything for you. Listen to your body. If you’re running and feel more than the usual strain, then stop. Don’t try risk for the sake of risk. Make sure the risk you choose stands a better chance of enhancing your life than harming it. 

By Amy Fries
Source: The Comfort Trap (or, What If You’re Riding a Dead Horse?) by Judith Sills, PhD. Penguin Books, 2004; Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan J. Jeffers. Fawcett Book Group, 1988; Right Risk: 10 Powerful Principles for Taking Giant Leaps With Your Life by Bill Treasurer. Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc., 2003.

Summary

  • Step outside your comfort zone to get out of a rut.
  • Try new physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual activities.

Comfort isn’t always good. It can lull us into complacency, deaden our senses, and leave us feeling bored and unhappy. For example, we may get so used to air conditioning that we refuse to venture outdoors for a significant portion of the year. Or we may become so accustomed to traveling the same route to work that we drive on automatic pilot. As a result, our world becomes smaller.

New experiences, on the other hand, can be invigorating. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, it may be time to stretch your comfort zone and take some calculated risks—risks for which the potential benefits outweigh the potential costs. Calculated risk may be as daring as sky diving or as mundane as asking someone new out to lunch. The point is to expand your boundaries and, thus, your possibilities.

Tips about risk taking

Stepping outside our comfort zones forces us to live in the present. When we put ourselves in a new situation, we must pay attention. For example, if you’re scrambling up a rocky trail with a 50-foot drop to the side, you can’t be thinking of a project due next week or a vacation you’re planning next year—you must deal with the moment. You must feel the grip of your fingers on the rock and think carefully about how you place your feet.

  • A little bit of fear can be good. It can leave you feeling alive and hopeful.
  • Katharine Hepburn once said: “There’s nothing more important in life than overcoming fear. People who never learn how to do that grow up soggy.”

Taking a risk, whether physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual, forces us into the unknown, and that’s where discovery happens. Say, for example, you decide to hike up a mountain. You’re expecting the view at the top to be the reward. Along the way, however, you turn a corner and stumble upon another hiker who has twisted an ankle, and you are the one to offer him a cell phone, a kind word, or a drink of water. The discovery—or the reward—may be that you made a new friend or found yourself to be competent in a crisis.

  • Often our most important moments and insights come from the unexpected. Welcome such moments; seek them out.

When taking a risk, be prepared for the initial shock and discomfort. When you put yourself in a different environment—on a mountain or at a party with new people—your mind and body will take time to adjust. For example, when you first start hiking up a hill, it takes awhile for your body to get used to the slant and the extra exertion. Once your body finds a rhythm, you will start to relax. The same holds true for any new situation—a new class, a new friend, a new job. The first moments will be awkward, but trust that you will adapt.

  • Accept that there will be moments when you feel afraid, uncomfortable, or incompetent, and do it anyway.
  • Give yourself room for trial and error. Give yourself permission to fail.  

Activities to stretch your comfort zone

Don’t be afraid to start small. You may try 10 things and find you hate nine of them. That’s OK. It’s the process, the discovery, the self-knowledge that leads to growth. Whatever risk you choose, prepare for it, commit to it, and then complete it. Afterward, assess the situation. Whether you’ve failed or succeeded, congratulate yourself for taking the chance. Consider trying some of the following activities.

Physical:

  • Rock climbing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Any endurance sport—running, cycling
  • Any outdoor adventure (try a guided outing) 

Emotional:

  • Tell the truth.
  • Ask for what you want.
  • Say “no” to things you don’t want to do and “yes” to things you do want.
  • Move to your dream location.
  • Go to a party/event alone. 

Intellectual: 

  • Read a different type of book or see a different type of movie.
  • Learn about something that intimidates you—for example, the stock market or algebra.
  • Try out for a community theater production.
  • Write a short story.
  • Hire a life coach. 

Spiritual:

  • Experiment with meditation or prayer.
  • Go on a retreat.
  • Learn about another religion or philosophy.
  • Be silent. 

Some activities, such as travel, may involve all four elements. 

Remember, as with so many things in life, taking calculated risks is a balancing act. You should be open to risk, but you still need to listen to your inner voice. If you know you hate roller coasters, then riding one won’t do anything for you. Listen to your body. If you’re running and feel more than the usual strain, then stop. Don’t try risk for the sake of risk. Make sure the risk you choose stands a better chance of enhancing your life than harming it. 

By Amy Fries
Source: The Comfort Trap (or, What If You’re Riding a Dead Horse?) by Judith Sills, PhD. Penguin Books, 2004; Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan J. Jeffers. Fawcett Book Group, 1988; Right Risk: 10 Powerful Principles for Taking Giant Leaps With Your Life by Bill Treasurer. Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc., 2003.

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