The paradox of risk
Posted on 31st May 2017 at 07:30
A few weeks ago we looked at our beloved comfort zones and gave you a new perspective on them.
Explained why, if you’re wanting anything new, then your comfort zone can’t be quite as comfortable as you thought it was. After all, if it was, you wouldn’t be wanting anything new, would you? If you’re in any doubt, just go and think about it for a moment…
Having exposed this great example of faulty logic – one that you’ve probably never thought to question before – let’s have a look at another one. And this one concerns risk. How we evaluate it. Or, more accurately, don’t evaluate it.
Have you noticed that when people talk about risk, what they’re actually talking about are the financial aspects of taking – or not taking – a particular course of action? It’s driven by a fear of losing “stuff” whether money or some other asset such as their home, car or lifestyle.
However, by adopting such a narrow focus, they’re failing to understand – or evaluate – the true nature of risk. Afterall if you think about it, “life is one long risk.”
While you may not have considered it before, RISK IS PRESENT IN EVRYTHING WE CHOOSE TO DO OR CHOOSE NOT TO DO. And as soon as a choice is made – whether consciously or unconsciously – all the other options open to us are automatically closed down.
What most people don’t seem to realise is that risk is associated as much with choosing NOT to act – and remaining stuck within your comfort zone – as there is in doing something new. The difference is that you already know what the risk is of staying where you are, even though you don’t consciously think about it. The outcome is certain. It’s more of the same and remaining stuck.
Whereas you don’t quite know what will happen by doing something new. However – and this is the crucial point – it’s fuelled by the fear that doing something new is inherently more dangerous and so more risky. “Here be dragons.” The outcome isn’t certain, so your imagination goes into overdrive.
However, by continuing to focus on the financial aspects of your decision, you’re only looking at a very small part of the picture. To fully evaluate the possible risk you need to look more broadly at things, at what economists call the “opportunity cost”. The alternative uses you could have put your time, money and efforts to.
While most people consider money – and other financial assets – to be our most important resource, there is one other resource we all have that has a much greater value. After all money and other assets can be replaced or recreated. This resource is finite and so priceless, but one that we overlook and take for granted.
Have you guessed what it is yet?
It’s our own life and the only thing with true value, as it can’t be recreated or replaced. Even worse, we never know exactly how much of it we have left. And yet we waste our time – hours, days, months and years – without a second thought. Once they’re gone they’re gone.
So how on earth can a risk ever be assessed without factoring in our most precious resource? In other words what we’d otherwise do with our time. And this includes all the time wasted slumped in front of the television, surfing the net, being “busy being busy” or distracted by the minutiae of life.
The first time you take a look at how you actually spend your time you may be shocked as how much you fritter away on things that don’t really matter – and don’t add any value to your life. But, before you become too disillusioned, remember that everything you find out about yourself is good. By making it visible you then have the choice as to whether to carry on doing the same thing or whether to do it differently. That really is true power!
And what about all the benefits you’d receive from doing something new, whether it worked out as we wanted it to or not. All the things you’d learn from doing it. The experience itself. How you could do it better next time, if you decided that was still what you wanted to do. If not, how it would help you more clearly define exactly what you do desire from life.
Life has a funny way of helping us along once we’ve made a choice about what we want to do. So often things just fall into place once we’ve taken a deep breath, made a decision and taken the first few tentative steps in that direction. It’s as if people, places and events all conspire to help us on our way.
Life is a game, a journey to be enjoyed. So do you really want to keep gambling with your most important resource?
As always, the choice is yours.
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