When was the last time you took a risk?

Did your palms get sweaty?  Did your heart race?


 

According to Doug Sundheim, and many other experts on the subject, risk is what makes us feel most alive.  Doug asked 100’s of people who were nearing the end of their lives:

“When in your life, did you feel most alive?”

There were 3 that Doug observed in his conversations:

1. Nearly every single person described a time when they’ve taken risks and pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone.
2. It was actually the process of taking the risks that individuals remember most fondly, not the actual outcome.
3. The story teller had the biggest smile on their face at the end of the story.

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Let’s first look at one definition of a risk – a situation involving exposure to danger.

 

Since we all define danger differently, risk taking is unique to every person.  I like to think of risk taking, as doing something outside of our comfort zone.  To know what is risky for you, you need to know what is inside your comfort zone.  It could be that skydiving is absolutely terrifyingly risky! Or perhaps you are a skydiving expert, and jumping out of a plane is a normal daily activity.  Perhaps for the skydiving expert, speaking in front of 10 people is terrifying.  Or perhaps it is being alone that makes your palms sweaty.

 


 

So why push the boundaries of your comfort zone?

Why Take Risks?

The Benefits of Getting Uncomfortable

To understand the benefits of taking risks, we need to understand that our comfort zones are created by our minds with the intention of survival.

A comfort zone is a mental and emotional state that causes a person to create and operate within certain boundaries; such boundaries create a sense of personal security within the individual…. A person who has established a comfort zone in a particular axis of his or her life, will tend to stay within that zone without, so often, making any attempt to step outside of it.  In order to step outside his or her comfort zone, a person must experiment with new and different behaviors, personalities and environments, and then experience the new and different responses that result from those new experiences. (Wikipedia)

We create our own comfort zones and naturally behave within those limitations, therefore to reshape or grow our comfort zone, we need to take risks.  The physical benefit of taking risks is the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter which is part of the brain’s reward system.

Here are some of the other benefits with risk taking:

  •  Developing a sense of exploration and adventure.
  • Observing the world with a fresh perspective rather than out of habit.
  • Developing perserverence and dedication in mastering new skills or behaviours.
  • Learning from our failures and our successes.
  • Growing what is possible for ourselves and for others.

How You Can Start Taking Risks

 

Comfort zone

 1. Get to know your comfort zone.

Observe yourself.  Draw a circle and write down everything in the circle that is in your comfort zone.  Use these questions to help.

  • Where are you comfortable?  With who? In what location?  At what times of the day?
  • What activities are easy for you?  What habits do you have?  What actions do you repeat often?
  • How do you know when you are in your comfort zone?  (physically, mentally, emotionally?)
  • How much of your day do you spend in your comfort zone?

2. Get to know your magic zone.

Draw a second circle outside of your comfort zone circle.  This is your magic circle.  Write down all the things you want to have, do or be in your magic zone.

  • Consider that in order to move your magic zone aspirations into your comfort zone, you will need to take new and different actions.
  • What are the new and different actions you need to take?  What do you need to stop doing?  What do you need to start doing?

3. Commit to act.

Taking action is the only way to grow your comfort zone.  Tools can help to understand what you need to do and why.  Then it is up to you to take the first steps.

Are you ready to start shifting your comfort zone to incorporate all the things you really want?  What are your first steps?

Just think, in a year from now you comfort zone could grow to include your magic zone.  Then you get to create a new magic zone!