An ‘In Character’ blog from Martine Cullum’s
The POISE Archives urban fantasy series.
Hello again, and welcome to another of my blogs looking more deeply into helpful quotes. This week I am exploring decisions about risk taking.
Every time we learn something new, gain a skill, dream, or plan, we are developing ourselves. Maybe we give it a label such as Personal Development, Self-Help, or Personal Growth, it really doesn’t matter, the fact is that we are learning, hopefully in a positive way.
For the most part, this growing does not involve big decisions or risk taking. From learning to walk to mastering algebra (do they still do algebra in schools?), it is just a natural progression in the right direction, but some growing is different. Career choice, relationships, or adopting a puppy for example. These are learning curves that are going to mean a decision and taking a risk. Do you stay safe where you are, or do you go for it?
Far be it from me to recommend taking blind risks to anybody, but there are things you can do to help you make the right decision when that need to blossom overcomes the need to stay safe in the bud. If you have been following my blogs, you will know me well enough by now to not be surprised by the first tool of my list.
Still your mind and listen to your gut.
Reasoning will come later, but for now, just pay attention to what your gut is telling you. It will feel anxious, that’s a given, this is an important decision and is not to be taken lightly, so maybe there are butterflies there, but what else are you feeling? Excitement? Anticipation? Fear? Dread? Make a list of those emotions, the good ones on one side of the page, and the bad ones on the other. You can come back to this after you have completed the other exercises.
Uncover what is behind your dream.
Imagine that you have made the decision and taken the leap. It is now five years down the line, where are you? What are you doing? How do you feel? What does it mean to you that you made that decision five years ago?
Write down the answers to these questions on the same list that you used for the last exercise. Which column will those answers go in?
Now imagine that you chose to stay in the same position you are now. You don’t change your job, ask out that special person, adopt that puppy. Ask yourself the ‘same five year down the line’ questions and place on your list.
But what about those voices?
You know the ones I mean. The voices of friends that say, ‘Don’t be ridiculous’, ‘Why rock the boat’, or conversely ‘Go for it, what have you got to lose?’ and ‘It’s a no-brainer, just do it’. Or maybe the inner voices that say, ‘People will think I’m mad’ or ‘What will Mum and Dad think’.
Write these down on a separate list, then enjoy drawing a great big line through them. These, you do not need. This is your decision and only your thoughts on the matter count. You are doing this for you. What will make you proud to be you? What will enable you to put your innate or learned skills to the best use? What will make you happy?
Imagine now that you are old and grey (easier for some of us than for others). Look back on your life. What are the things that make you feel you have had a life well lived, and what are the things that you regret not doing? Write it down.
S.W.O.T or not?
I’m afraid, it’s S.W.O.T. Sorry to be so boring, but this is an important decision, and you need to do some groundwork.
For those not familiar with S.W.O.T, it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and it is a tool used in business for assessing the internal and external factors that contribute to a company’s relative advantages and disadvantages. (Told you it was boring.) But it works very well for decision making when you put yourself and your life in the place of the company.
What are the strengths/the positive things about making this change? What are the negative things? What opportunities could this change open for you? What is the worst that could happen?
Yes, you know what I’m going to say. Add it to the list.
I prefer S.W.O.T to doing pros and cons as I think it brings out a lot more detail, but pros and cons can work too if you delve deeply enough.
Back to the beginning.
Now that you have all the data you need, go back to the first exercise, and check in on how your gut is feeling? By now, you should have a much clearer mindset and there is just one further step.
Present and listen.
Find someone you can use as a sounding board. Be careful who you choose, it needs to be someone non judgemental who does not have any kind of investment in your decision.
Tell them about your decision, about your reasons for making it regardless of whether it is a decision to make a change or keep the status quo. As you are presenting your decision, take note of how you are feeling. Are you relaxed and confident? Are you losing faith in what you are saying? Are new opportunities or threats coming to mind that you had not thought of before?
Those feelings will tell you everything you need to know.
Wishing you success in every decision you make.