Helen Keller said that life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing. For your life to have meaning, you must take risks. They allow you to grow and move forward with your life. Life without risk isn’t living at all—it’s just staying in the same place doing the same thing.

I’m no stranger to risk taking. When I was 41, I went back to college to get my degree – I took the risk. I retired early from General Motors – a huge risk for me. I started my own business, another huge risk. And, when I was asked to present a workshop at a Toastmaster’s Conference, I said “Yes”. I said “Yes” before I gave myself the chance to say “No” because I wanted to take the risk.

What are you afraid of? What opportunities have slipped through your fingers because you couldn’t bring yourself to take the risk to get started? There’s something very comforting in the status quo. We wrap our lives around us like a blanket that is safe and warm. It becomes our cocoon, and it slowly suffocates us! Even the butterfly emerges from its cocoon, unfolds its wings and risks flying. If it doesn’t take the risk, it dies!

I had a client recently who came to me for career counseling. She was unemployed but wanted to get into nursing which meant she’d have to go back to school. I asked her if there were any barriers like childcare or transportation issues that would stop her from realizing this and she said “There’s only one thing – I’m afraid.” She was afraid to start because she wasn’t sure she would finish. She was afraid of being the oldest student in the class. She was afraid of failing because it had been over 20 years since she had set foot in a classroom. And, she was afraid of succeeding – because it would change her life in ways that she couldn’t even imagine.

Don’t subscribe to the belief that “If I can’t do it right, I shouldn’t do it at all”. Most people don’t do things right the first time; we need to learn to do things. There’s a Japanese proverb that says “Fall down 7 times, get up 8”. It’s okay to give yourself permission to experiment with life – to stretch beyond your comfort zone into new territory. There is no failure in falling down, there’s only failure in not getting back up.

My step-daughter was offered what I thought was a wonderful opportunity. She was a manager at an extended-stay hotel, and was offered a position that would let her work at new hotel sites. She’d be in the loop from the time a new site was chosen, through all phases of construction, until the new hotel opened. Not only were the salary and perks fantastic, it would broaden her experience in so many areas of business that she could take with her to any job she chose.

She turned it down. “What if I accept and then find out I hate all the traveling?” I pointed out it was for only one year. “What if I’m in over my head?” I stressed that the company obviously had confidence in her or they wouldn’t have offered her the position. “What if a hotel doesn’t open on time?” I had to give her that one. If a hotel was late opening, she’d have to step up to the plate and explain what went wrong.

She got caught up in all the “what if’s” of the situation. “If” is such a small word, yet we give it so much power over our lives. Remember, the word “if” is two letters – The “I” stands for Ignorance of what’s possible for us, and the “F” stands for Fear of taking the risk to try. Instead of asking “what if”, we’d do ourselves a favor if we started asking “why not”.

Don’t let fear hold you back from living your life. Fear isn’t created by the world around us. It’s created inside of our heads by what we imagine might happen. Mark Twain realized this late in his life. He said “I’m an old man and I’ve seen a lot of trouble – most of which never happened.”

Don’t be afraid to take a risk because you think you’re not good enough. Henry Van Dyke said “Use your talents. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” So be like a bird and soar into new possibilities. Remember, the sky’s the limit.

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Kozak is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Personal Coach, as well as a motivational speaker. Often referred to as a Self-Esteem Guru, she offers coaching, e-courses and teleclasses. Her free e-course, "6 Powerful Strategies For Weight Loss" is very popular. Sign up for her weekly e-zine SOAR or read it online by visiting her website at http://www.newdaycoaching.com