My mother always used to say things to me like, “play it safe”, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, “that’s too risky” and a million other statements that she would come up with to protect me. But all my life I have been a risk taker most of the time, which has probably added to her gray hairs and stress level! I am just like my father who was constantly trying new business ventures, some of which worked and some didn’t. We are the kind of people that have to learn the hard way – as my mother would put it. I prefer to think of it as we need to try new things, make our own mistakes, figure out what works and what doesn’t and learn from our experiences. We don’t let fear stand in our way…even when we’re scared to death.

So, what are some of the more memorable risks I’ve taken? Well, I moved to LA right out of college with my boyfriend and no job. But I got one. I got tired of both the boyfriend and the job and moved back to CT again with no job. I left a decent paying position to go back to grad school. I broke off an engagement and traveled to Europe for 5 weeks. I left a tenure-track position at a major university to go to work for a supplement company in North Carolina. I left that job to move back to CT, again with no job. I took my first solo vacation for a week to Sedona. I started a magazine with almost no capital and no experience in publishing. I got divorced. And now I’m starting this new business.

Now you’re probably saying, no wonder her mother is stressed out. My mother would have loved for me to find a job right out of college, get married and have a family. Don’t get me wrong, she’s very proud of what I’ve accomplished, but she could’ve dealt with a little less stress. My point is that I believe all of these choices were stepping stones to prepare me for where I am today.

That’s why fighting your fear and taking risks can be so important in terms of making you stronger and more resilient to failure and things not working out the way you had planned. If you never take risks, if you never strive to achieve something bigger than what you can handle, if you’re paralyzed because you’re afraid to fail, then you’ll never reach those big goals and dreams because you will always stay in your safe, little comfort zone. This applies so well to dating – if you’re afraid to approach women that you think might be “out of your league,” you’ll never know what amazing potential relationship you just threw away.

For me, I realized at a very young age that the one thing I could never accept at the end of my life is to be left wondering, “what if” in any area of my life. I’ll give up safety, security and stability to ensure that I have tried every possible thing that I could ever desire to do so that I won’t be asking that question in my old age. And sure there will be some things that I’ll risk that I may end up regretting, but at least I’ll have the answer to what would have happened if I did it versus wondering about it. To me, the wondering is much more painful than trying something and failing.

If you are the kind of person that really fears taking risks and the possibility of failing, I encourage you to gradually introduce some small risk taking into your life and see what happens. If you take a risk and succeed, fantastic! If you take a risk and you fail, that’s fantastic too, because you had the courage to step out of your comfort zone. I’m sure if nothing else, you will have learned something valuable about what happened and more importantly, about yourself. You might even find that it can actually be fun!

Dr. Diane Hayden is the owner and publisher of Natural Nutmeg Magazine, Essential Living Maine Magazine and Nutmeg Creative Media. She is a speaker, writer and workshop facilitator. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Connecticut, a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland and is an Empowerment Life Coach. For 20 years, her work has focused on inspiring individuals to learn about the power of thought and emotion and how it shapes their lives. Her passion centers on helping even just one person navigate the dating scene and find the perfect partner with whom they can share their life.

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