I’ve rarely thought of myself as a risk-taker.
Here’s why: I’ve researched career options to the point of analysis paralysis. I have no desire to downhill ski, or try activities that carry the risk of physical injury. I prefer to save my money, rather than to spend it impulsively.
But I’ve defined risk-taking too narrowly.
In reality, I’ve been a risk-taker in many ways: I have an unabashed desire to address women’s wellbeing amid major turning points in their lives. I don’t shy away from deep conversations; I adore them. I seek opportunities to connect with and support other women.
For example, I trained and volunteered as a birth doula before I even had experience giving birth (it later gave me the courage to homebirth my daughters). I counseled survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. If it impacts women’s wellbeing, I’m there and I care.
Do you turn to your stories of supposed cowardice before you acknowledge your stories of courage? Do you overemphasize those moments when you returned to your comfort zone?
If so, it’s time to write yourself a new narrative. In what ways are you a risk-taker? I guarantee you there are a few!
Even if you struggle to think of examples, here’s reassurance: growing research shows that we can learn to become risk-takers! It’s not something that you’re either born with or you’re not. It’s an area where it’s important to have a growth mindset, not a fixed one, when it comes to your capabilities.
Of course, changing our mindset takes practice, especially when it comes to creativity.
For me, beginning this blog was a new kind of risk-taking—writing creatively and with Internet visibility. I wasn’t just working one-on-one or in small groups with women, I was putting my ideas out there publicly. I was shocked by how deep the fear was, but I was also pleasantly surprised that I grew into the role more quickly than I expected.
Initially, the creative process seems simple: We imagine our ideas and express them in some form. We create something visible to ourselves. Sometimes, in an act of bravery, we share our creation with a community.
Creativity is visibility. Are your ideas and contributions visible?
Maybe you’re like me. Your ideas sit locked up in your head, waiting for a day when you feel ready, or when parenting or work responsibilities calm down.
If you’re ready to take smart and thoughtful creative risks, here are 10 ideas.
How to Become a Creative Risk-Taker
1. Remind yourself that you’re just experimenting. Start with small risks. You can gain real-world feedback and course correct without losing money or face.
2. Know that fear and anxiety are normal when you’re pushing past your comfort zone. It’s not a sign that you’re on the wrong path. You can ride the waves.
3. Starting is usually the toughest part. After that, we often move on, or recover, quickly. We often overestimate how long we’ll feel anxious or flail.
4. There’s no right time. So, live with the uncertainty. Don’t overthink the timing.
5. No one is going to give you permission, or a clearance telling you you’re ready. Don’t overestimate the expertise needed. You may, in fact, have a newbie (or beginner’s mind) advantage: that of drawing creative linkages between disparate ideas.
6. Share the creative struggle. Take the additional risk of talking about your creative experiments. You never know when a conversation or connection will inspire you to continue on in a fantastic new direction, or with additional social support.
7. Tune in to the occasional moment of exhilaration. You’ll have them once you have small accomplishments under your belt. Quite simply, decisiveness feels better than indecisiveness.
8. You can’t change the world with ideas alone. Bring them into form.
9. Do you want an easy life or one filled with meaning? Tune in to the many possible gains. I love how Michael B. Friedman (a social worker, photographer and jazz musician—how’s that for creativity?) breaks down the ways that creativity benefits our wellbeing:
- By cultivating skill, engagement, and accomplishment within ourselves
- By helping us discover and manage emotions, shape our identity, and reveal ourselves
- Through the pursuit of beauty and transcendence
- Through connection, celebration, and meaning
10. Keep up the output. Continue to show up. More experiments + more skill-building = more success. It’s perseverance or stamina that distinguishes those who succeed.
P.S. Find ideas for small acts of bravery here:
P.P.S. I highly recommend these inspiring books on creative risk-taking:
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown (affiliate link)
Playing Big: Find Your Voice, You Mission, Your Message by Tara Mohr (affiliate links).
Get In Tandem‘s Monthly Notes on Creativity + Wellbeing:
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”