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“If you risk nothing, you risk everything.”
This applies in life, in love, in your investments and in business too. Athletes are a great example. Can you imagine an Olympic athlete tentatively doing a triple axle or coming down slowplowing at a slalom competition? Or keeping your money under your mattress?
You can be more confident. I know because I have increased my confidence over the years and I believe I’m not finished as there are still times I get scared.
I can clearly see how and when being confident has changed my life: leaving an unhappy marriage, leaving unhealthy work situations, taking the leap to go to university in mid-life, while being a single parent, starting a coaching business later on, speaking up in relationships when I wanted or needed something, and starting another business last Summer (this blog) and just this week, investing in a fairly expensive training program to grow my blog. So if you are someone who thought that you were stuck with the level of confidence you have now, stay with me. Things can definitely get a lot better.
I believe we are born with a huge amount of confidence. Just listen to the baby screaming when he is hungry or wants a dry diaper!!! Or the toddler who refuses to wear a certain outfit. No lack of confidence to get their needs met. Then life happens and depending how our parents or other significant adults in our life do or do not meet our emotional needs, or if the family goes through hardship, we grow into confident adults or we shrink.
If someone had told me I would ever have a Master’s degree, or have my own business, I would have laughed. I still remember the day I went to register at University as a mature student. I was petrified and thought I was out of my mind to even think to attend University. Who was I to think I had enough brains to succeed at University? But I took the risk.
I also remember the day I decided to mortgage my house (as a single parent) and go to University full-time. Again, I was petrified, but I was more scared to continue in the same soul-sucking job I was at. What did I think? That I could start a career in midlife? But I took the risk.
I remember the day I told my husband I wanted a separation. I was so scared. I had a low paying job and two kids. But my unhappiness was so bad for my soul. I was afraid I could not survive alone? But I took the risk.
I can see in my mind the day I told someone I loved him. I was trembling but the thought of hiding my feelings was scarier. Would he laugh it off? I took the risk.
What those experiences have in common is first they were terrifying and that I never regretted taking any of those risks. All the decisions I made even when I was scared changed my life for the better, more peace, more happiness, better health. All have led to more confidence. The mere fact to take a risk made me feel 10 feet tall, whatever the outcome. And yes, there are consequences to any choice We can have anything, but we can’t have everything. For example starting a new career in midlife in social services has affected my finances. Being a single parent has also made me poorer.
The mind can be a wonderful thing. However, more often than not, it plays tricks on us. The mind relies on the past to judge everything and has velcro to hold on to negative and painful memories. If our experiences of the past have been good and fulfilling, the mind rests.
However, if our childhood has been less than ideal, a weird phenomenon happens: we keep on going for what is familiar, even if painful. This is why children of alcoholics often find themselves in relationships with alcoholics. Children of rejecting parents with rejecting partners. And the cycle repeats until we take the time to become aware of the patterns and take action to change them.
Fear’s job is to keep us safe but fear is a funny thing. It can keep you in a bad situation by making you think of everything that could go worse if you move out of what is familiar, or it makes you believe you could not handle something else. So you stay stuck.
Essentially fear makes you believe you are no more capable than a 5 year old. Fear plays with your mind, blowing a hit to your self-esteem to the size of a lion in the room (just think that many people fear public speaking as much as death itself.
What can you do to change your life for the better? What are you willing to pay for greater happiness, either in your personal or professional life? I remember seeing a young girl, called Anna, in a documentary of the National Film Board. She had spina bifida but she had dreams and she said “I’ll find a way”. This is what I told myself when I made a big decision not long after seeing that documentary.
The Steps to Take Risks
Catch yourself when you are breeding negative thoughts. Anytime you venture or even think about venturing out of your comfort zone, fear will show up and will give you all the reasons why it won’t work. Make a list of all you have achieved up to now.
Talk to a trusted friend about your plan. Ask for support. Tell your friends and family you will need their encouragement or advice.
Look around you to see who is doing what you want: whether it’s a new career or a loving, healthy relationship. If someone else can have it, so can you. I decided to go for it, career change wise, after seeing a trainer do exactly what I wanted to do and meeting another person who was on his way to getting a Master’s degree. I remember thinking, “if he can do it, so can I”.
Write the worst that could happen. The very worst and think of solutions for every worst outcome you can make up. Our imagination can be boundless to imagine the worse. Also imagine the worst that can happen if you don’t take the risk. When I decided to go to University to change career, I remember thinking what 25 more years in a job I hated would be like. That make taking the risk a lot easier.
Now imagine the best that could happen if you go for what you truly want. Imagine success and happiness. Make your desire for those outcomes greater than your fear (and the gremlins in your head).
Start taking small risks, I first started University by taking one class in a subject I was excellent in. That gave me an A+ which was a huge confidence booster.
Protect your time – If going back to school is what you want to do, organize your life so as to give yourself the time to study so you can succeed. This may mean to ask for help at home or if you are alone, to prioritize studies over a clean floor.
Remember that nobody is perfect. I am intelligent but I also had to work to get good grades and so do most University students Geniuses are few and far between. If you want a healthy relationship, remember that nobody is perfect, so you don’t need to be perfect to be loved.
Take good care of yourself. Whatever you want to achieve needs energy. Protect your health because making changes and taking risks causes stress; sleep, nutrition and exercise need to be your top priority.
Taking risks does not come with a warranty. What it comes with is the possibility that you will get and do what you really want, versus staying with the status quo and the certainty that things will not change for the better.
The bottom line, is you need to start trusting yourself to take some risks, and the more risks you take, the more you will trust yourself. Sometimes it needs to start with a leap of faith.
Are you looking at making a change in your life? Let me know if this post has been useful and please share with your network and on social media to help me reach more people. Thank you.