Is regret a price you’re willing to pay to avoid risk?

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Growing up, I was restless. Teacher’s often described me as too curious, a dreamer and easily distracted. While I did well in school, I often got in trouble for questioning and challenging. In class, once I understood a concept, I couldn’t just sit in that space while the teacher went over it again with the kids who didn’t “get it.” I’d create new entertainment for myself. At one point, I was labeled a “quitter” because I didn’t stick with an activity once I learned enough to satisfy my curiosity in a subject. I moved onto something else that captured my interest. These days, I’d probably be tested for an attention deficit but I believe I am what Barbara Sher, in her book, “Refuse to Choose” calls a “scanner”. These can be positive personality traits for an entrepreneur.

A counselor in 9th grade actually said, “I’m concerned that you may not be able to settle into a job for any period of time.”  I didn’t understand  why she thought that was a problem. I had the great fortune to grow up in a family that encouraged us to follow our passions and pursue our interests so I don’t think anyone expected me to settle into a career and stay there.  What I didn’t realize was that many people who experience this restlessness perceive it as a flaw. I hear from people who say they have outgrown their careers but fear the risks of moving onto an unknown, so choose to stay in the security of what they know.

Yesterday, while reading an article on Serial Entrepreneurship in American Express Open Forum, I came across the phrase  “You have more fear of regret than of failure”. That is the way I’ve always felt and summarizes what drives me as an entrepreneur.

In her Dec. Changing Course newsletter, author Valerie Young compares outgrowing a career or business to falling out of love with a good and faithful partner. It’s time to move on. She warns,  If you’re hanging onto a job or career solely because of all the time and money you’ve invested or fear of letting the world know you made a mistake, what “should really scare the heck out of you is never getting to experience what your life would be like if you pursued your true gifts and passions.

Living a regret-free life is a topic I think a lot about and is the basis for my workshop, “Be the Author of Your Own Life.” I know at the end of my days, I won’t look back and think, “Gee, I’m glad I played it safe,” but I would definitely regret not having tried something I longed to do because I was afraid to take a risk.”

Are there things you long to try but you stay in a “safe” place out of fear of risk? If so, ask yourself, “ how would I feel at the end of my life if I never tried that thing I feel called to do?”  Does that thought make you feel sad or sick? If so, is regret a price you are willing to pay for safety?

If you are hoping 2012 is the year you are finally going to make your dreams happen, CLICK HERE to check out what Barbara Winter and I are doing to help you work around what’s holding you back and take the steps to living your ideal livelihood.

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