The Dangerous Risk of Being Risk Averse

“The arts? What are you going to do with that? You should get a degree in a reliable field, like business –you’ll never find a job as an artist.” How many of you heard this when you were in school?
 
I was a creative child, but somewhere along the path to adulthood, the notion that being an artist wasn’t “a real job” became engrained in my psyche. Guidance counselors, academic advisors, bitter people punching a clock and spending the better part of their life surrounded by beige walls. All of them telling me the same thing: “You need a realistic career goal.”
From a young age, many of us are taught that straying from the traditional course is risky, and therefore unwise. If we don’t follow the beaten path, how will we make a living? What will become of us?
 
Beware: Missed Opportunities Ahead
The truth is, success doesn’t come with a guarantee—whether you major in finance or study ceramics. Nothing in life is guaranteed.
 
What you can be sure of, though, is that if you never take a risk, you will never know what opportunities you missed out on. Do you want to spend the rest of your life wondering what could’ve been?
 
We are defined by the choices we make, and if you choose not to put yourself out there and test the creative waters, you’ve already determined your path. Innovation requires risk-taking. Are you willing to step outside your comfort zone and explore the possibilities? How will you define yourself?
 
Those Who Take Risks Leave Legacies
Picasso is essentially a household name. Even people who don’t dabble in the arts can identify Picasso’s work. But did you know that Picasso was extraordinarily skilled at painting in the classical realism style? It’s true! Before Picasso began experimenting with abstract work, he painted uber realistic pieces. His later work was considered radical, and it’s also what ultimately made him one of the world’s most famous artists. Had he not stepped outside of the box, so to speak, would he still hold that title?
 
Feel how you may about comedian Amy Schumer, she’s carved out an important spot in the comedy landscape for women. Not only did she make the coveted Forbes’ Top 10 highest paid comedians list, she’s the only female to appear there. Schumer gets a lot of backlash for her particularly raunchy brand of comedy, but it was clearly a risk worth taking.  
I could go on forever listing people who will go down in history because of they’ve taken the road less traveled. Whether you look at J.K. Rowling or Malala Yousafzai, it’s clear that if you want to leave a legacy, you can’t play it safe.
 
Start Small, Win Big
So you’re convinced and ready to start coloring outside of the lines…carefully. Don’t worry, you don’tneed to throw caution completely to the wind. Here are a few things you can do to start taking morerisks and reaping some major benefits:
 
1. Take baby steps.
If, for example, you’re afraid to invest any money in your creative ventures, start with a small investment and see what kind of returns you get. You don’t have to go all in and spend$10K on coaching or fancy equipment. Find a reasonable amount that fits your budget and invest wisely—you just might be amazed at how quickly it pays off!
 
2. Make calculated decisions.
Perhaps you’re one of those people who has a lot of naysayers in your life and they’re constantly reminding you about the dangers of pursuing your creative passions and striking out on your own. Start with a side hustle and prove to yourself (and them) it’s possible. When you reach a point that you’re no longer able to keep moonlighting, look at all your options, weigh the pros and cons of each, and be realistic. Who knows? Maybe you’ll inspire others to finally pursue their dreams.
 
3. Find like-minded people.
Finally, one of the best things you can do to calm your gambling nerves is to surround yourself with other creatives and entrepreneurs. Why? Because chances are they can relate—they’ve been where you are. Sharing your apprehensions with someone who has gone through the same thing is mega valuable. They can share their experiences, provide guidance, and ease your mind. Maybe what you think is a big risk isn’t that risky after all.
What risks are you afraid to take? How can you step outside your comfort zone today and start getting closer to your creative and entrepreneurial goals?

Erin Sanchez

Erin Sanchez is a writer, marketing consultant, and business coach living in the Greater Seattle Area with her husband, four dogs, and five chickens. She geeks out on consumer psychology and what makes businesses tick while drinking way too much coffee. When she’s not blogging or teaching women how to flee the 9-5 grind and build businesses they love, Erin spends as much time outdoors as possible. You can listen to bite-size biz advice on anchor.fm/CandidlyErin.

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