The Importance of Taking Risks

The Importance of Taking Risks

Here’s a picture of me and my activism group taking a risk recently. We testified at carbon pricing hearing at the State House.


It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. To have a routine that looks the same every day, a routine that isn’t challenging or exciting. It happens to me way too much. It can get you feeling kind of numb. And also just plain bored.

Because taking risks is so vital to growth, and also teaches you so much, I think taking a risk every day is good. You could set it as a goal, do one thing that scares you every day (it doesn’t have to be something big). I not always the best at remembering to do this, but for some people (me!) it’s helpful to plan the risk at the beginning of the day. It might also be nice to start a list of risks you’ve taken. Then you can look back and see all the different ways you’ve pushed yourself. Here are some ideas to get you started if you aren’t sure where to begin (can you tell that many of them have to do with other people? That’s because people often make me anxious and thus come to my mind first):

  • reach out to someone you’d like to get to know better
  • confront someone about something that’s been on your mind
  • try a food you’ve never tried or don’t think you like
  • start learning a new skill
  • speak to a stranger
  • share something you’ve created with someone else

If taking a different risk every day seems too singular because you’re not building on the things you’re learning and working on, you could start a project or tackle a bigger fear. Maybe there’s a project you’ve always wanted to do or take part in, but you’ve been too nervous to begin. Now’s your chance! Work through the fear! Speaking of fear, you could also conquer a lingering fear. Right now, I’m trying to feel better about talking to people on the phone. So every day, I’m calling my US representatives about an issue I care about. This way, I’m both bringing my fear down, and I’m making a little change in the world.

Is anyone having trouble coming up with risks to take that actually feel nerve-wracking to them? If that’s the case for you, try this. In the next week or so pay more attention to yourself and your emotions. Notice when something makes you nervous, and practice stepping forward rather than back. Keep a mental or physical list of what you did (or didn’t do). Those things would be good places to start when finding what scares you.

Do you have other ideas to add to my starting list? What’s something you could do tomorrow that scares you? What’s something you’ve already done that scared you, but paid off in the end? Let me know!



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