Not taking a risk is the biggest risk of all

I'M at a point in my career where I feel like I am standing at a fork in the road. I can go left, the road most travelled, with relative safety, security and minimal risk, where I plod along at a consistent pace.

Or, I can go right, the road not (yet) travelled, with increased risk, less security and safety, but greater chance of growth and the achievement of my goals.

I have found myself with one foot on each path, dithering back and forth over which way to go.

I think that risk can be an incredible thing. In theory.

I've worked with many, many clients who have spoken about risk assessment, management and mitigation.

I've written about it in countless resumes and selection criteria responses, and I have a good understanding of what it entails, theoretically.

But I've never really been a risk taker, so I haven't experienced the highs and lows of taking a chance, of rolling the dice. Not personally.

Or at least this is what I've told myself. I bet you've told yourself that, too. That "not being a risk taker" is a "safer" option ... we've got family and responsibilities, right? These things have to come first!

What if I told you we are all risk takers, but many of us just don't know it yet?

Every decision and non-decision we make carries risk.

Staying on the road well travelled is a risk. For if I always do what I've always done, I'll always get what I've always got.

Sure, that result is a "known entity," but if it's not what I want, then I'm setting myself up for perpetual disappointment.

And only for the sake of knowing what the outcome will be.

Sure, there are things that will be out of my control, but if I stagnate myself based on a fear of what might happen, I'll never give myself the chance to find out what could.

I might not know what the end result will be if I take the path not (yet) travelled, but I think that I forget that it's me walking that path and I do have a say in what that result will look like.

Sure, there are things that will be out of my control, but if I stagnate myself based on a fear of what might happen, I'll never give myself the chance to find out what could.

Mark Zuckerberg famously said: "The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks." I rather think he might be onto something.

This doesn't mean that we have to be irresponsible about it. I'm not suggesting that we all head down to the casino and bet our life savings on red at the roulette table. But I think it's time us risk adversaries started thinking about things from a new perspective.

We safe roaders tend to think there is a higher chance that everything is going to go pear shaped. This is called negativity bias.

Tim Ferris, entrepreneur and productivity expert, suggests trying to take in the bigger picture, rather than fixating on possible consequences.

By planning effectively, we prepare ourselves to navigate the hazards that we encounter and choose which risk is the most intelligent one to take.

In other words, we need to be smart about the risks we take.

Establish boundaries within which you will operate and recognise when those boundaries are drawing near.

Set a time or dollar limit on the risk you are contemplating, to ensure that you are remaining in control of your own ship.

Above all, we need to accept that it's not all going to be clear sailing, and that's OK. We learn more from adversity than from success.

If you really think about it, the road well travelled is rarely without its hiccups, but we accept these more readily because we haven't "done something silly" like take a significant risk to arrive at this juncture. These hiccups are more easily justified.

However, everything we do requires a spot of courage. Whether it is to try something new or steady the ship.

Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and take that leap of faith.

I have been able to overcome my seemingly natural aversion to risk by considering what the risk is if I don't take the opportunity that has arisen. And that thought has made me realise that sometimes you just have to bet on yourself and go "once more into the breach, my friends."

Zoë Wundenberg is a careers writer and coach at impressability.com.au