I believe it to be a given that having a course of action already worked out is the best way to help you achieve your goals, but what happens when opportunity gets in the way? That sounds weird so let me clarify. I have discovered that not all opportunities are automatically the best choices for us to make. Unfortunately a lot of sayings exist that would support that all opportunities are something not be passed up because they are such a rare and amazing thing. Like the old adage, “When opportunity knocks,” yes, someone has to (and will) answer, but does it have to be you? We feel bad passing over an otherwise great looking opportunity because we are trained to believe an opportunity is a god send—and some of them are, of course. The trick is to conscienscously decide whether it’s your god-send or not. Some opportunities are absolutely those which you’d be an idiot to pass up, or those which fate has conveniently set in your path to help you snag something even better. The ones I am discussing in this post are those that only appear better because they exist in the face of a risk.
What do I mean? We chart our courses and preplan where we want to end up—even to the point of accepting an inevitable risk in the goal of achieving it. For example I recently accepted temporary unemployment as a given during my transition from Reno to Denver. We do this, then suddenly a safe, smart-looking opportunity opens up that suddenly makes your acceptance of risk seem unnecessary. Humans tend to avoid danger, being self-savers, so a safe, smart opportunity draws us in. Think of a bright light that blurs your vision. That is the concern; sometimes opportunities actually become distractions, temporary solutions, or immediate gratifications, like bright lights distorting your vision of the real goal. So the question becomes, how do we stick to the plan and face the risks that we could otherwise mitigate by taking up one of these “opportunities” ?
Well, this is when that plan of action, that vision board, comes in handy to help keep you on track and confident about why you do what you do. It is something that continually reminds you of your ultimate goals. We need reminders of what we are really after so that we can determine whether a particular choice will get us there or not. Maybe it will, but it will take longer. Maybe it is the right choice for right now, or maybe not. Maybe you have an easy in; sure, but does the job really make you happy? Does it fulfill your needs beyond basics of pay or stability? Is that what you need right now? Is it only fear of the risky unkown that makes this choice appear so great?
Every choice comes with a risk, and we make choices all day long. If you choose this burger for lunch, you risk not tasting that new salad that just came out. When it comes to life choices, the risks are that much greater—or maybe not. By taking the easy or safe option, what are you now risking? Happiness, the chance to push yourself, the possibility of dream fulfillment or greater satisfaction? The last thing you want is to wind up regretting a choice that worked for a short time, but held you back from what you really wanted. Like playing chess, you have to make moves that set you up for further success, rather than focusing on the immediate satisfaction of removing a pawn from the board. You cannot let fear of the risk hold you back.
Why am I writing this post? To act as a reminder to conscientiously analyze and weigh your choices and opportunities before unwittingly allowing yourself to deviate from your plan. It’s risky business, one way or another. I want you to stick to the plan or deviate with full knowledge of it. Don’t have a plan? You better MAKE ONE and STICK TO IT! This is your life and sometimes you can relax and let the tide guide you, but other times you have to take control and steer yourself. Don’t let those bright lights distract you unless they really are your special, once in a lifetime opportunity.
Choices, risks and opportunities are a part of life, so we need to determine how and when to handle them. The fact that risk exists makes it interesting. The fact that opportunity exists makes it worth pursuing. The fact that choice exists makes it our responsibility.
Your goal: Analyze your opportunities. Don’t be afraid to make a choice and take a risk to get what you really want. If you really want it, then the risk is worth it, right?
You know what…just Google “risk taking” “life plan” and “vision board” and you’ll find all kinds of great articles!