Go Ahead, Jump: The Rewards of Taking Risks

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Getting Over Your Fears

What if you're the slow-wader type -- the girl at the beach who puts her toes in first then very slowly ventures in up to her knees but goes no further? If you've spent your whole life bowing to fear and avoiding risk, can you break the habit?

Absolutely. The first step is to change your perspective and realize that playing it safe is also a risk. "If you are bored with your job and you find out about a new position and you don't do anything, you'll lose out on that opportunity," says Stoker. Not taking any chances is as much a decision as taking that first step toward change. Once you redefine risk in this way -- as a positive life philosophy -- you can begin to embrace it as a chance to move forward, to grow and learn, to achieve a goal or ambition.

That doesn't mean you have to leap blindly. Intelligent risk-taking starts with research. First on your agenda? Learn as much as possible about whatever it is you're afraid of.

"Knowledge always trumps fear," says Melinda Blanchard, author, with her husband, Bob, of Changing Your Course: The 5-Step Guide to Getting the Life You Want. Blanchard has taken many risks herself. She and her husband started a business right out of college with $8,000 and no experience, and then, years later, she chucked her relatively stable life in Vermont and opened a restaurant on the Caribbean island of Anguilla.

"People use all kinds of excuses for not making change, and most people say that fear and lack of money are their biggest obstacles," Blanchard says. "But it is lack of information that usually turns out to be the biggest culprit." Talk to people who've done what you want to do, she advises, and find out about the challenges they've faced. "The worst-case scenario is seldom as bad as you think."

Continued on page 3:  Risky Business


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