The 13 Joys (and Necessities) of Taking Risks

Change brings risk.   Risk is our partner whether we like it or not (mostly we don’t).   Many of the biggest risks that determine the paths of our lives are unexpected, unplanned and beyond our control.  We face such facts every day.  Maybe there is a meteor heading for the roof top or that lottery ticket in our pocket is a big winner?  Some times we rise.  Sometimes we fall.  These are facts.  Risks are our life’s partner so why not embrace them with joy?


Meteors.  Beautiful… or not?

Modern technology is changing everything in our lives; finances, daily routines, social networks, how and where we work and earn.  Technology has changed how we read, write, travel, meet and make friends, eat, exercise, look after our health.  Literally just about everything we do is changing.

One big change in life that is changing big time is retirement.

A Wall Street Journal article, “The biggest surprises in retirement” (1)  Like surprises? Retirement—for better and worse—will change your life more than you anticipate.  That’s the consensus of those who should know best: the retirees themselves.

The article was based on answers the Journal editors asked readers, about changes in later life, and what surprised them in retirement. The biggest, and best, surprise in retirement, according to many readers, was what happens when one takes risks.  Retirees liked trying and learning something new, risking time, energy and sometimes pride.  Taking risks changed their lives for the better.

What became clear in researching  how to enjoy taking risk was that one fundamental quality:  they key to success… “having resilience”.   Resilience is the ability to bounce back from some real or experienced adversity.  When we are resilient, we simply keep trying until our change is positive and complete.  When we are resilient, we never give up, as so many successful people have told us we must never do!

You just can’t beat the person who never gives up. Babe Ruth

Never, never, never give up. Winston Churchill

Never give up,  for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. Harriet Beecher Stowe

Never give up.  And never, under any circumstances,  face the factsRuth Gordon

Resilience is the quality that gives us everlasting effort because the process of change, of learning, of growing is no longer a struggle of stress, strain and trouble!  Change becomes a way of living filled with fulfilling achievement that is productive and fun.

These thoughts sent me to work researching this question, “What traits give us resilience?”   One scientific study entitled “Psychological and social aspects of resilience: a synthesis of risks and resources” at the US National Library of Medicine shows 13 qualities that can help us become resilient.


The article offered a table of 13 resilience traits. (3)

With this in mind, let’s take a look at these qualities, one at a time, in upcoming messages.

The one quality of resilience we will look at in this message is “Purpose and Planning”.   According to this scientific study, the most resilient individuals are seemingly more purposeful and committed to an organized, analytical approach, as well as to a sequential plan of dealing with difficulties or challenges and resolving problems.

Having a purpose is the most powerful driving force because it connects us to what is important in our life and unleashes the greatest energy we can have.  Whenever we are organizing whatever with a purpose, we feel in harmony with our surroundings, even if the activity contains risk.

When we are acting on purpose we feel alive, clear, authentic, meaningful and energized. Purpose creates speak performances as we get in the “flow,” the state of total absorption in which time seems to disappear and we feel content and fulfilled.

Purpose provides emotional, psychological, physical benefits that invigorates and motivates our activity.  Purpose reinforces, stimulates and strengthens our ability to plan.

Planning creates resilience because it reduces risk by eliminating unknown variables.  There are so many unknown in life that we often fear change.  Planning helps us think through what might be and understand what variables might occur so we are ready for them.  When we face expected challenges (rather than surprises) we do not have the same feelings of adversity.

When we plan, we can also direct our activity around the things we can control with the greatest certainty. Our planning reduces the number of variables that are out of our control, and this adds power to our activity.

Planning is the first step to avoid procrastination. Planning is not productivity, just like a jump start is not a source of ongoing energy.  Yet planning is a start and that initiation can be a fun, energizing boost to get us moving along the track we need to follow.

Planning also helps reveal a clear purpose.  However, our deepest, most powerful purpose is not always clear. The most important byways in life do not reveal themselves until we move away down a slightly obscured track.  We might know we are headed in the right direction, but not quite sure where!

Our purpose gains power when it is well articulated first to ourselves and second when shared with others.  A well thought out plan clarifies our purpose and helps us reveal it to others.

Here is a plan that can help you enjoy taking a risk, whether it be retirement, starting a new micro business, trying a new health routine or making a new investment or just about anything that creates change.  Embrace risk.  Recognize that most of the factors that shape our lives are beyond our control.  Next, feel around for a purpose that’s important to you.  Then make a plan outlining the things you can and cannot change.  From this plan just take one small step forward.

Do it again, but make a better plan based on the experience.  Take a bigger  step… and repeat.  This is a formula for resilience.

Life is a never ending series of steps in the right direction… for you.

In upcoming messages, we’ll look at the other 12 factors that create resilience.


(1) The biggest surprises in retirement

(2) Psychological and social aspects of resilience: a synthesis of risks and resources

(3) attributes that are positive for resilience.

One of the 12 factors we’ll review is physical health and how it correlates with coping skills and resilience. Learn more about resilience beyond strength here.