5 Tactics for Taking an Enormous Risk

I know you. Probably better than you think I do. I know you have some big ideas, some dreams. I know you wonder how you’ll ever actually do them. I know you have responsibilities and choices to make and things don’t always work out like you wish because there isn’t quite enough money, time, or energy.

I know that no matter what happens, though, you always get that nagging voice in the back of your head that asks, “What if? What if I just did it?”

Okay, maybe I don’t know you that well, but it’s an incredibly common feeling for almost everyone. There’s something you really want to do, but the time is never quite right and it just feels too risky.

Risk is a four-letter word these days and I don’t think it gets the respect it deserves.

You can work your whole life to keep risk at bay, but it comes at the cost of boredom. Anyone can elect safety, but you’ll pay for it with your life’s biggest desires.

If you ever want to realize your dreams – if you want to start that business, find that true love, go on that adventure, or anything else – risk is going to become an intimate part of your life.

Once you accept that, you can get on to actually taking them. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you do it right:

1) Embrace Uncertainty

The fear of the unknown is paralyzing, but going toward your fears is the only way to actually get what you really want.

Everyone wants something out of reach, but the only thing keeping it there is your own belief. Once you convince yourself that it’s possible for you to achieve something, even if it’s not reasonable, you’re far more likely to actually work towards it.

Personally, I know that if it my goals don’t scare me, they probably aren’t worth doing.

2) Forget About the Odds

Let’s face it, when you want to do something incredible, the odds are stacked against you. No way around it.

If everything was set up for you to succeed, no one would care when you did (including you).

Forgetting the odds means realizing that doing something important is hard work. It means understanding that success is uncertain and doing it anyway.

3) Plan, but not too Much

I plan to climb the tallest mountain on every continent. It’s a challenge that I cannot deny myself.

That said, I have no idea how to actually make that happen yet, and if I tried to figure out all the details now, I’d never even get started.

Instead, I plan only what I can foresee. Next year I’ll head to Europe and Africa to climb the tallest mountains there. I have no idea how I’ll get to the next five, but I know I’ll figure it out along the way.

Plan what you can count on. You’ll have to figure out the rest later.

4) Take the First Step

Don’t forget this part. Take the first step. Make the leap. Get started. Do something.

This gets ignored far too often. You don’t have to change the world when you’re getting started, but if you just take the first step, eventually you will.

When I trained for my first marathon, I couldn’t run 26 miles. But I could put my shoes on. Then I could run 1 mile. Then 5. Then 10. A few months later, I ran 26.2 miles in less than 4 hours.

Make your first step the easiest one you can imagine.

5) Throw Away Plan B

Should you have a fallback plan? Here’s my answer: no.

When you’re going after something big, uncertain, and risky, it’s going to be hard and Plan B is usually something easy – probably even something you’ve already done before even if it makes you miserable.

The harder Plan A gets, the more appealing Plan B becomes. Some things are too important for a Plan B. It’s up to you to decide if this is one of them.

Tyler Tervooren writes for a highly skilled team of risk takers at Advanced Riskology. Follow his updates from the tops of mountains on Twitter: @tylertervooren.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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