Published on January 18, 2021

5 Proven Risk-Taking Tips To Take More Chances In Life

5 Proven Risk-Taking Tips To Take More Chances In Life

Most of us want to have better experiences than we might have had in the past or be currently experiencing today. This can often involve needing to step into situations we haven’t navigated before. It can involve uncertainty and hold opportunities for us to have unpleasant and/or pleasant experiences.

Our brains are primarily designed to keep us safe and balanced, physically mentally and emotionally. However, most of us know deep inside that repeating the same patterns and expecting a different result is nonsensical. There comes a tipping point when it’s time to take a chance. Taking more chances involves taking risks. This can be scary!

Traditionally, taking risks is only for the bold and courageous. We associate there being a higher chance of having negative experiences; pain, disappointment, failing, getting injured. Because our brain is wired for safety and survival, these perceptions often hijack our decision-making so are drawn back to maintain the status quo.

Despite our instinctive human behavior and thinking, there are ways we can prevent this hijack so we can take more chances in life.

Whether or not you are a leader of a team or wanting to make progress in one or more areas of your personal life, these 5 proven risk-taking tips will maximize your capacity to move forward further and faster.

1. Routinely Review Your Circle of Control to Help You Plan What Risks to Take

In his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey explained how our point of greatest effectiveness will be when we are operating from our sphere of direct control. When we dedicate our energy and attention to trying to change things that aren’t in that sphere, we experience discomfort and pain we may not be equipped to manage. We can also become vulnerable to a far longer recovery process as a result.

The inner-most circle is the circle of control. It represents what you have direct and ultimate jurisdiction over:

  • Your thoughts
  • Your choices
  • Your decisions
  • Your behavior and actions
  • Your mood
  • Your mental state
  • Your responses and reactions
  • Your mental, emotional and physical states

The second outer circle – the circle of influence – represents exactly that; what you influence. You don’t have direct control over the following, but how you operate from your own circle of control can have ripple effects on people and situations around you:


  • Your relationships, your children’s happiness, safety and wellbeing
  • How others respond to you, how they perceive you
  • Your work productivity, whether you get promoted or not
  • Who follows you on social media
  • Who you vote for
  • Your development of skills, improvement of competency
  • The success of your business

The outermost circle represents the ‘circle of concern’. These are situations and relationships for which you hold in your mind and heart as important. They are things you often have little control and influence over, however, they impact you:

  • Systems and institutions (e.g. your employer, governments)
  • Environmental issues
  • The economy
  • Natural events and disasters

If you don’t naturally self-identify as a risk-taker, start by taking risks where you have the highest level of control. You are more likely to succeed, increase your ability to assess, plan and executing taking risks. This in turn fuels your motivation and readiness to take risks and chances in the future.

How much can you truly control and/or influence when addressing how you are being bullied at work? Look at the different aspects of your situation and see which circle each aspect resides in. Referring to Covey’s concentric model can help you determine what risks are in front of you and which ones are better for you to take.

2. Adopt a Gamified Perspective to Increase Risk-Taking and Make It More Fun

The mental and emotional pressure we put on ourselves to achieve certain outcomes inflates our perception of risk consequences. We can often feel the stakes are higher. However, what if you applied a different set of expectant outcomes when you are in risk-taking situations?

Gamification has become a more widely used approach in a variety of settings where growth and improvement in performance are desired or required. The application of game dynamics, mechanics and frameworks into non-game settings has demonstrated effectiveness in encouraging risk-taking behavior along with changed perceptions toward the meaning and experience of risk-taking itself.

When researcher Itamar Shatz reviewed the risk-taking behavior of participants learning a foreign language, he found gamification methods increased their risk-taking behavior as well as their performance and self-confidence.[1]

Similar research was undertaken by Ignacio Garcia exploring the effectiveness of popular language-learning application Duolingo identified that using gamification approaches enhanced users’ learning.[2] Learners are driven to advance to higher levels by being awarded points for providing correct answers and being given a couple of opportunities to attempt each question. They feel freer to fail.

When considering risks you might take, ask yourself: Is there a way I can gamify this? If I am feeling high pressure and angst about this risk, how can I inject more fun into the process of taking the risk? Could you engage others to also engage in this risk-taking activity with you? Can you create your own reward system of celebrating your taking chances in the first place?


Reward yourself and celebrate your experiences of taking risks regardless of whether you achieve your main goal. You develop a different emotional attachment to risk-taking exercises and increase your confidence to take more chances in your life.

3. Take Risks Where You Have the Resources to Manage the Consequences

You wouldn’t jump out of a plane without wearing a parachute, nor would you skydive without knowing and following safety protocols. You equip yourself as best as you can for the situation that you are unfamiliar with. Then there is always risk remaining where events can unfold in ways you (and even experts) are unable to predict or foresee.

We are going to be more likely to take risks where we perceive fewer negative consequences are possible and/or we have greater confidence to manage these consequences. How can we then minimize the negative consequences?

Assess the level of risk and close the gap between the resources required and the resources you have. Do a simple needs analysis based on what you identify taking the risk requires and what you have available to you, to meet those needs. Where you identify a gap between your resources and what is required, look to see what is within your control to help you close the gap.


  • Do you have enough knowledge to tip you in favor of success in taking the risk?
  • What equipment do you need to maximize your chances of success?
  • What skills and technical competencies do you need?
  • What else do you need to learn or acquire to tip your probability of succeeding to 51% or higher?


  • As you think about the risk, how are you likely to react/respond if negative consequences result?
  • What support options and strategies do you have in place to help you take the risk as well as catch you should you be unsuccessful?


  • How are you currently perceiving the risk?
  • What mental state are you in as you think about taking it? Do you need to first manage negative emotions or need to diffuse heightened anxiety?
  • What mental strategies and exercises do you have in place to help you prepare for taking the risk, experiencing the process of taking it? Do you feel this enough or could you strengthen your approach?
  • Can you anticipate how you will be mentally affected should you fail? What mental strategies do you have in place should you be unsuccessful?

Having answers to these questions above won’t only help you determine what risks to take. You will feel greater confidence and control of being able to maximize your chances of succeeding in taking them.


It’s essential you assess your risk-taking capabilities holistically: physically, mentally and emotionally. Because we know through research how our mental and emotional states and past experiences highly influence our perceptions, aptitude and approach to taking risks we must consider all three angles. Doing so will springboard you toward taking more chances toward experiencing a more fulfilling and satisfying life.

4. Regulate Your Emotions Beforehand to Help You Assess What Risks to Take and Prepare to Take Them

In the absence of enough metrics or a frame of reference against which to measure if a chance poses more risk or not, we unconsciously rely on our emotions. In fact, our emotions dictate our self-belief and self-efficacy in situations we perceive to be risky, far more than we may realize.

A recent study conducted at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Poland revealed two incredible results:[3]

  • a) That our emotional state impacts our perception of risk;
  • b) That when we focus on the negative consequences of taking a risk, we perceive the risk to be greater

When participants were asked to imagine negative risk consequences, they reported more negative mood states and perceived risk as higher compared to the control condition. The researchers also found that the type of visualizations participants were guided to create, influenced their mood and their perception of whether the risk was higher or lower.

In the third experiment, the researchers found that stress that was irrelevant to the risk itself swayed participants to perceive the risk as greater. So, the more stressed we are in general, the greater risk we will perceive.

This means we need to know our own unique stressors, how they can impact us and how to manage this first. We need to undertake risk assessments and development management strategies from as balanced and regulated emotional and mental states, as possible.

Consider what stressors might be influencing your mental and emotional state when you are undertaking any stages of planning, preparing for or undertaking a risk. Can you reduce or remove them? You may need to recalculate the timing of taking certain risks.

You always want to be in the best mindset possible. Attention might need to be given to other things first to allow you to have a clear enough mind to maximize your success.


Just as you wouldn’t go trekking on a high difficulty mountain trail when a tornado is forecasted, nor might it be the best time to look at changing careers if your intimate relationship is in dire straits.

Don’t rush. Choose your timing wisely embracing the fact that there also may never be a 100% perfect time to take a chance. Simply be considered with it.

5. Always Celebrate All Aspects of Risk-Taking

Taking a risk is also setting a goal. If rewards exist only on the condition of that goal being achieved, this leaves many steps and opportunities for us to balk and opt-out when we feel the risk is too great. We need to insert strong enough reasons for us to stay the course.

Because we know emotions have a strong influence over our decisions, we can cleverly inject positive emotional experiences toward all stages of taking any risk:

  • a) Assessing the size and type of risk
  • b) Planning and preparing
  • c) Undertaking the risk
  • d) Experiencing the consequences

Learning what resources you currently have is a validating start in itself. You may well discover you are more equipped than you thought! Congratulate yourself (and your team) when you have completed a certain stage in your risk planning. Celebrate this milestone regardless of whether you go ahead with taking the risk past this point or not.

When it comes to undertaking the risk itself, celebrate the fact itself that you are nudging yourself to step into discomfort to grow. You’re testing and trying. At the very least, you are discovering your current capabilities are in this particular experience. You have applied yourself in ways you might not have before. You’re progressing and learning whether you succeed or not!

In April 2020, NASA celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission. This mission is referred to as the ‘successful failure’ with the crew returning safely to Earth despite an explosion that foiled their aim to land on the moon. Whether we succeed or not, we must deliberately emphasize rewarding the effort we’ve made to go on the journey in the first place.

Review all the parts of your journey; the good and the bad. Proactively look for the benefits of undertaking the experience. Engage processes to work through the pain, hurt and disappointment you might feel should you have failed. And then, stand up. Look up. Look ahead.

When you look closely enough, every aspect of risk-taking holds a benefit to you. As you rewire what risk-taking means for you, you may start to feel you’re not taking risks at all. You’ll be rubbing your hands together with child-like excitement to take more chances in life.

More Tips on Taking Risks in Life

Featured photo credit: Loic Leray via


More by this author

Malachi Thompson

Leadership & Performance Edge Strategist

How To Overcome Laziness in 7 Steps What Is Mentally Tired? 11 Ways to Combat Brain Exhaustion 5 Proven Risk-Taking Tips To Take More Chances In Life How to Be a High Performer and Achieve Excellence How to Handle Rejection and Overcome the Fear of Being Rejected

Trending in Success Mindset

1 8 Greatest Obstacles In Life You Must Overcome To Be Successful 2 36 Quotes From Successful People About The Wisdom In Asking Questions 3 10 Reasons Why Some People Will Never Succeed 4 10 Movies You Need To Watch To Be More Successful 5 The Planning Fallacy: Why Your Plans Fail

Read Next


Published on February 19, 2021

8 Greatest Obstacles In Life You Must Overcome To Be Successful

8 Greatest Obstacles In Life You Must Overcome To Be Successful

Whether it’s planning a public speech or a kid’s birthday party, our intentions lean toward success no matter the endeavor. And whatever success we are hoping to attain, there will likely be obstacles that we must face. When these obstacles surface, we can either shy away and miss our chance or meet these challenges informed and ready.

Although obstacles can seem like the outside world is plotting against us, in reality, these external challenges are merely triggering hurdles that already exist within. They might be memories or beliefs we have about ourselves that act like mud and slow us down. We can be trapped by our own self-sabotage.

What could happen if you knew about and prepared for these obstacles beforehand?

If you knew what you were up against, perhaps you could come equipped with just the right tools to get through anything that threatens your chance at success. Perhaps you could take an obstacle that felt like a mountain and turn it instantly into a mere molehill!

Here are 8 of the greatest obstacles you must overcome on your way to success:

1. Perfection

One of the most common obstacles we face is the need for perfection. Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, shared that her mother always used to say, “done is better than good.” Anyone prone to perfectionism is going to find it difficult to remain on the road to success if everything has to be “just so” all the time.

Perfection is the killer of creativity, vitality, and accidental discoveries! There are so many instances of people fortuitously discovering things that we use every day.[1] If they had been so concerned with perfection, they may never have enjoyed the success of their “mistakes!” Plus, learning from our mistakes is how we develop and grow throughout our lives. Therefore, “perfect” will never provide a straight shot to success.

How can you stop going for perfection? Just as it may have taken years of practice to “perfect” a skill you have acquired, it takes practice to undo perfectionism.

Try the following:


  • Try new things and let go of your expectations.
  • Don’t do everything on your “To-Do” list. See what happens when you leave it for tomorrow.
  • Learn how to prioritize (no, everything isn’t equally important all the time).
  • If you’re feeling particularly rebellious, send an email with a typo in it!

Have fun with this and learn how to laugh at yourself. Welcome to the wonderful world of being human.

2. Fear

Fear is triggered when we have a thought or perception that we are not safe and secure. This is quite a useful tool when there is a real threat to our safety. However, when the threat is imaginary, fear can actually prevent us from doing the work we need to do to achieve our goals.

As with perfectionism, the best way to deal with fear is to become more mindful.

Here are some steps you can try in working through fear:

  1. Sit with the emotion of fear and notice where you feel it in your body. Notice the thoughts that accompany the feeling.
  2. Ask yourself what you are afraid will happen and write down your answers.
  3. Visualize yourself experiencing your worst fears. How did you feel imagining your worst fears coming true?
  4. Ask yourself when you have felt this way before. How did you cope with it that time? What strengths could you use in your previous visualization?
  5. Imagine yourself using your strength with the imagined worst fear. How does it feel to know that no matter what happens, you have the tools and resources to handle it?

In this exercise, we’re trying to be okay with the emotion of fear. Fear is actually trying to help by keeping you “safe.” It calls upon memories of when you were threatened in your life. But when we spend all of our energy trying to prevent the feeling of fear, we make it stronger. We also deny ourselves the memories of all the times we have faced our fears and triumphed.

Allowing the fear to be present and calling upon memories of making it through challenging times helps to convince our minds that, as President Franklin Roosevelt said, the “only thing to fear is fear itself.”

3. Lack of Clarity

Imagine that you are going on a trip and you need to pack. Your suitcase is out, but you don’t know any details of the trip. You haven’t decided where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, or what you’ll be doing. How easy will it be to pack for this trip?

If we’re trying to run our careers or lives without clarity, it can be nearly impossible to figure out what we need to be doing to get to our destination of success. So, how do we get clarity?

Author and speaker, Simon Sinek, had some excellent advice for businesses on how to get clarity, and it applies beautifully to just about any area of life. According to Sinek, when clarifying your “message,” you should start with your WHY.[2] In other words, why are you doing what you do? Once you are clear on your “why,” it will be much easier to figure out your “how” and your “what.”


Let’s go back to the packing analogy. Perhaps your why for vacationing is to get some much-needed rest as you have been stressed out lately. That tells you that a quiet vacation might be better than one with lots of museums and crowded attractions. Your “why” tells you that you don’t want to be very active, but you do want to take care of your body, mind, and spirit, perhaps by spending a few days at a nearby spa. Less travel means less stress. Looking at the spa, you see they have a 3-day retreat. Now, you know how to pack.

See how easily those details fell into place once you got clear on your “why”? Imagine what success you could achieve once your “why” is uncovered!

4. Making Comparisons

It’s natural for us to compare ourselves to other people. That’s how we know whether we’re doing things correctly or not and how we can continue improving. When we get into a habit of making comparisons all the time and feeling bad about not being able to “keep up with the Jones’,” this can pull our energy down. And when our energy is down, so is our motivation to keep working toward our goals.

As with perfection, it’s important to be mindful about how much importance you’re placing on “keeping up” with what you think everyone around you is doing.

Want to stop sizing yourself up to others? Try the following:

  • Notice the feelings that come up for you when you compare yourself to someone else.
  • Ask yourself, “what information am I really getting from this comparison, and what’s helpful about it?”
  • Keep the helpful bits from that line of questioning and let go of the rest.

Remember that when you compare yourself to another person, oftentimes you are seeing the potential that already resides within you.[3]

5. Untamed Inner Monologue

How do you talk to yourself? Do you tend to say uplifting and encouraging things to yourself? Or is your self-speak often negative? An untamed inner monologue can serve as a great obstacle to many people.

Many people grow up with the idea that the inner monologue is what drives us to become better people. We get “tough” on ourselves to prevent laziness or sloppiness. If unchecked, the monologuing can quickly become negative and purely critical. Despite our intentions for self-improvement, this constant habit of pointing out what’s “wrong” with what we do and who we are can become a huge energy drain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, overcoming negative self-talk is good for our health.[4] Some of the benefits of maintaining a compassionate inner voice include lower levels of depression, better immune function, and improved coping skills in stressful times.


Activities to develop awareness about your inner monologue and make it more compassionate include:

  • Keeping a thought diary (there are so many great apps for this!).
  • Reframing negative self-statements neutrally or compassionately.
  • Asking yourself what a trusted friend might say to you.
  • Thinking about what you might say to a friend if they were in your shoes.
  • Considering EFT Tapping or saying affirmations.
  • Allowing yourself to follow the inner critic down the worst-case-scenario path (this version might have you laughing at how ridiculous your inner critic’s imagination truly is).

6. Unclear Boundaries

So far, we’ve covered several ways that internal boundaries are necessary on the road to success. These include monitoring your fear, limiting your need for perfectionism, lacking clarity about what you want, making unhealthy comparisons to others, or having a mean-spirited inner monologue.

How about those boundaries we need to clarify with other people in our lives? To be clear, boundaries are not about saying “no” to everything and cutting yourself off from everybody. Healthy external boundaries are about being communicating to others about what you want, how you want to be treated, and what your plans are.

If we have unclear boundaries with others, success will result only by accident, if at all.

People pleasers and empaths especially know how challenging it can be to set boundaries with others. The desire for harmony can be so strong for some people that they convince themselves that it is easier to let others make the decisions rather than risk creating conflict.

The problem here is that no matter how hard we try to avoid conflict with others, we will create conflict within ourselves that results in roadblocks to success. If you have trouble setting clear boundaries with others and you want to be successful, start building your muscles around this skill slowly.

Here are a few steps:

  1. Identify little things that you like and want.
  2. Tell people about what you like and want in your life.
  3. Notice what happens in your body when you say this out loud.
  4. Identify things you don’t like or want.
  5. Notice what happens in your body when you think about these things. (Your body is really smart when it comes to telling you what you don’t want!)
  6. Tell trusted people what you don’t like or want.
  7. Notice how it feels in your body to say this out loud.
  8. Practice saying “no” to something really small that you don’t want and work your way up to bigger things.

Without boundaries, it’s like being water and trying to hold a shape without being in a container. You get to create your own container and watch your success take form.

7. Unreasonable Expectations

It’s important to dream big. It’s how we allow inspiration and big ideas to come to the surface of our awareness. But if our dreams are not grounded in the reality of our current resources, we might be headed for some disappointment or even worse, the loss of our dreams!


Setting reasonable expectations is the bread and butter of success. If you haven’t been introduced to setting SMART goals at this point in your life, it would be a good idea to try it out.

It might not always be possible to know whether or not something is reasonable, especially if you’re trying out a brand-new-to-you project. If the expectation is for a new project to work without any bumps or glitches, this is likely to be unreasonable. The consequences of this experience could be losing your drive to succeed.

If the expectations for a new project include the idea of bumps and glitches that hold seeds of learning and growth, then even the perceived “mistakes” will turn out to be a success. This has the positive benefit of fueling your motivation to keep working toward even more success.

Be mindful of where you set the bar—neither too high nor too low.

8. Unreasonable Definition of Success

What is your definition of success? Asked in another way, from what perspective are you seeking success?

It’s easy to think that success means achieving the goal(s) you set for yourself. But there are so many ways to look at success. You might be missing out on some opportunities to really feel like you are shining in your life.

An unreasonable definition of success might be one that only allows for one specific outcome. If that outcome is not reached, then success is not the result. But if we allow for multiple definitions of success, we might find that success is much easier to come by than we previously thought!

To expand your definition of success, ask yourself the following:

  • What would need to happen to make me feel successful?
  • What else could happen to make me feel successful?

Keep brainstorming all the outcomes you could experience to create a feeling of success.

Final Thoughts

Being successful requires overcoming a lot of obstacles, and many people will fail at some point. The key is to tackle these obstacles one step at a time. In the words of Joyce Brothers, “Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”

More Tips on How to Overcome Obstacles

Featured photo credit: asoggetti via


Read Next