Choose Courage Over Comfort: Embrace Risk For A Richer Life

Leap of Faith

Guarding Your Heart Against The Temptation of Pessimism

If you ever find yourself expecting the worst as a way to guard your heart against disappointment, that’s the pessimist’s mentality, and it’s enticing because it promises safety and security. Who doesn’t want to be safe and secure, right? However, safety doesn’t equate to happiness, and avoiding risk doesn’t guarantee you’ll live a full and rich life.

Many people, including me, use this approach as a “life hack” thinking that if we simply expect the worst, or at least keep our expectations low, life will always go better than we expect. After all, if you never get your hopes up, you’ll never be disappointed, right?

The Crossroads: Career Reflections at Midlife

I’ve recently found myself at a crossroads of sorts in my career. I work with a great group of people, I enjoy most aspects of what I do, and I make a fair wage. Most people would love to be able to say that about their job.

However, I’ve recently been thinking about the next chapter in my life. I’m fast approaching 50. My kids are all teens and won’t be living at home that much longer. And at the same time, I’ve still got 20+ “working” years left. So, this begs the question, “do I want to stay in my current role for 20 more years?” As thankful as I am for my job, I can’t see myself in this role for that long.

But, here’s where my pessimistic bent kicks in. I immediately think of all the ways transitioning to a new career will be difficult. I think of the things that could go wrong and how it’s probably too risky. It would be so much safer to just stay put. I often think to myself that I must be crazy to be considering a change at this stage in life.

Midlife Reflections: The Turning Point

My wife and I have been married for over 20 years. Two of our three daughters have graduated high school. I had my first colonoscopy this year. (Which, by the way, almost killed me, but that’s another story. You can read it here.) The fact is, I’m getting older and I’m right smack dab in the middle of a midlife crisis which has caused me to pause.

As I sit with my thoughts these days, I have more questions than answers. And as I reflect on my life I realize that I tend to choose the path of least resistance over the risky ones. I have often chosen safety over the chance of something better because I’m afraid of what might go wrong. This goes back to those pessimistic tendencies I mentioned earlier.

I’m tired of living this way, and I’ve decided it’s time for change.

The Power of Optimism: Lessons from Dr. Michael Gervais

I recently listened to an episode of the Liz Moody podcast with Dr. Michael Gervais. He shared incredible insights on how our learned pessimism, while it might protect us from disappointment and promise to keep us safe, actually makes us sick.

He dives deep into the science of fear, the power of optimism, and practical strategies to transform your mindset. I highly recommend taking the time to listen to it. (And let me suggest taking some notes while you do, there’s a lot to digest.)

I’m learning that while pessimism promises to shield me from disappointment, it also blocks joy, growth, and a fuller life. As it turns out, the easy route isn’t always the best one. Expecting the worst doesn’t ensure I’ll avoid disappointment. If anything, a life of pessimism just increases the odds that I’ll miss out on the best.

So, I’m committed to not allow pessimism to dominate my mindset anymore. I’m determined to break the cycle of negativity and missed opportunities. And lately, when I catch myself preparing for the worst, I take a moment to pause and challenge those thoughts.

I ask myself: Do I want to stay safe and comfortable but risk missing out on something even better, or am I ready to make the leap, embrace change, and overcome the fears that have kept me stagnant for so long?

Jon Goode’s Story: Embrace Opportunities and Find Your Wings

I also had the privilege of meeting Jon Goode this week at an event put on by CreativeMornings. He spoke on the theme of “Patterns.”  And since Jon’s an Emmy-winning writer with a long list of accolades I was excited to hear his thoughts on how to recognize, form, and break patterns to boost creativity.  However, the highlight of the event was a piece of advice he shared with us while telling the story below. He said, “Jump off the cliff and find your wings on the way down.”

Jon had an opportunity a few years ago to write a series of commercials for a company here in Atlanta. He’d never written a commercial before but had won awards for his poetry and had thousands of hours of experience speaking in front of large crowds. Jon knew how to write; he knew how to tell stories, and he knew how to connect with people on an emotional level. So, instead of telling them he’d never written a commercial before, he took the risk and accepted the challenge. Jon went on to win an Emmy for those commercials.

Jon’s challenge to us was to put in the work. Don’t take shortcuts. He said to walk the walk, continue to get better at your craft, and believe in yourself. And when the opportunity presents itself, jump.

Choosing Boldness Over Safety

Choosing to embrace the pessimist’s mentality might mean we may avoid some heartache, but we could also miss out on the potential for a fullness in life we can’t yet imagine.

So, the real question is, do we want to continue living in a bubble of safety that keeps us stuck, or are we ready to embrace a mindset that allows us to take risks, grow, and truly thrive? It’s time to reevaluate our approach and consider what we’re sacrificing for this illusion of security.

I want to encourage you that you have a choice in this and change is possible. And what better way to start that process of change than by making a choice today, to dive in.

So, will you choose the safety that makes you sick or the boldness that brings you a fuller life?

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