If you’re thinking about taking a risk, then you’re already taking the risk.
I am approached rather often by would-be entrepreneurs who ask how they can overcome their fear of the risks involved in starting something of their own. I don’t know how to respond, except to tell them that they are already in a risky position. That’s because they’ve identified something they want from life, and now there is a serious consequence to “taking the normal path” and not following their heart.
There are many things to consider before choosing to start a new venture, of course. Money is a concern, as well as health insurance for the family, and so on. All of these concerns are valid… but they are not the essence of the decision that needs to be made. They are only factors. The real decision is whether or not to follow one’s vision, or follow one’s bliss, as Joseph Campbell would say.
Before a person becomes aware of something they want, there is no question. There is no pain of not having it, and no joy from thinking about it. There is also no decision to be made… and no risk. He can stay with his current job and proceed as planned. Once he becomes aware of his “big idea”, however, everything changes. He finds it hard to concentrate on the day-to-day matters and starts to spend all of his free time putting effort into his idea. Sometimes he even starts slacking in other areas of his life in order to spend more time on his vision. Now the risk has already begun.
If the man asks whether or not he should pursue his dream, he is really asking if he should break his own plans. We plan – all the time – and then do our best to carry out those plans to completion. But life doesn’t like plans that last for very long, unfortunately. It tends to prefer plans that get interrupted partway through. To break from a commitment to a job, or a career path, or even a location is commonplace… but most of us only allow those breaks when they come from an outside force. When it is our decision, such as the man in question, we like to hesitate and add 1,000 factors to the decision so that it appears very risky to break the current plans and go with something new. The greatest risk, however, is waiting for happiness to find you instead of seeking it yourself.
There is one thing all the entrepreneurs (that I know personally) have in common. They are happy to be pursuing what they want. The first-time entrepreneurs usually say that their only regret is not making a change earlier. Nobody lays upon his deathbed and says “I only wish I’d spent less time seeking what I wanted”, after all.
There is almost always a way to make your vision come to life. This is not just blind optimism, though. All the challenges, difficulties, and worries will still be part of the journey. And you still might fail. But ask yourself… which is better – to fail at something meaningful or succeed at something you don’t really want?
Perhaps some of this sounds familiar to you? That “spark” inside you that burns for a greater goal is an indicator of what you really want. Working toward that goal is sometimes hard, but it’s very important and should not be ignored. It is not an interruption of your life. It IS your life… trying to get out from under the layers of how you thought everything should turn out. Who ever promised you that the plans you made five years ago were the final plans?
If you find that your idea or vision will not go away, and keeps popping up, then you don’t have much of a choice. It’s more like a plan change that you just have to accept and get used to… because nobody knows what you want more accurately than you.
I’m no expert in how to find happiness, or how anyone else should live their life. I can only tell the story of how – again and again – I’ve seen people find a greater source of joy in themselves and their existence by summoning their courage and pursuing their dreams. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t look like there is any such thing as a “proven path” or a “right way to do things”. There are only people who follow their vision and those who do not.
If you’ve missed a chance, or you’re unable to “take the risk”… then consider what is truly at risk. Every day you have another chance to make a decision, and every day you have the ability to decide something new. Perhaps today you should try a different route – one that leads toward your personal vision. I can’t answer the question of whether or not you should take action on your idea. That’s a personal choice. I can answer, however, that finding something which produces a joy in you is a blessing in itself. The greatest risk is losing that sense of purpose, not all those little risks that make you hesitate. If you have the courage, don’t let it go to waste.
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