“Entrepreneurs are people who give up security in exchange for opportunity. Unlike most people who are content with a job, a regular paycheck, and clearly defined responsibilities, entrepreneurs are willing to jump into the unknown, betting on their intelligence, expertise, and ability to problem-solve and create solutions in the hopes of generating a profit.”

– The Team Success Handbook by Shannon Waller

When I read this, I thought, “Wow, I am an entrepreneur!” But how can this be? My comfort zone is routines and stability, and I am a natural risk mitigator. And yet, despite all of this, I had this overwhelming urge to do something “more” with my professional career. So this year I leaped into a brand new career in a similar field to my past 20 years of experience. For a risk mitigator like myself, this was very uncomfortable as there were many unknowns and the stakes were high. I suddenly went from being very knowledgeable and the go-to person when my coworkers had questions, to the inexperienced coworker asking all the questions. I exchanged my security for opportunity. So how do I reconcile this new adventure into a new field with my innate desire for routines, stability, and security?

Practice Taking Risks

For me, risky activities are those that have the potential for negative consequences. It may mean moving forward on something before I feel like I have all the facts. These riskier activities drain my energy. Because of this, I recognize that I need to spend a certain portion of my day on more routine or predictable tasks to reduce my stress and prevent me from becoming overwhelmed. I need at least a portion of my day to be more structured and scheduled so that it frees up my energy for those things that pop up and require me to be outside of my comfort zone.
I can also acclimate myself to taking risks by taking some small risks that have few negative consequences. These “practice risks” can help me build the skill set I need to take on riskier projects with more confidence.

Break Risk Down Into Small, Safer-Feeling Tasks

I also need to plan and strategize accomplishing tasks that feel riskier or outside my comfort zone. Then, I can break them down into smaller tasks so that it doesn’t feel as overwhelming. Sometimes all I need is a jumping-off point to get started, and my confidence builds the further I get into the project. It is easier to do just a little bit each day to move forward on something that is not in my wheelhouse than to procrastinate and dread doing this big overwhelming thing that I don’t want to do.

Make a Conscious Effort Every Day

But most importantly, I must make a conscious effort every day to shift my mindset. Even though some tasks are uncomfortable and have a certain level of uncertainty, I know that accomplishing these tasks will allow me to grow and become a better version of myself. This benefits my organization, and it benefits me both professionally and personally.

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