The value of taking risksNovember 16, 2017
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
Recently I was reading a book called “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. You may have heard of it. The book is about being vulnerable, taking risks, and being willing to expose ourselves to possible failure. It’s an enlightening read.
I bring this up because what I want to share is that security has a price. Everyone speaks about how risk is dangerous and sometimes unthinkable. It seems that everyone wants unmitigated surety – the 100% guarantee.
But security never makes one courageous nor does it make a person’s heart sing.
We all want our bases covered, and no one wants to be starving or out in the land of the lost.
But there is an energy about taking a risk with the possibility of failure that adds dimension to our lives and creates memories that we share with our children and grandchildren and we can ruminate over when we become old. Having everything laid out, fully unchallenged with no adversary to overcome makes for a dull story.
Taking big risks
To make my point, here are a few personal examples of big risks I took with my life direction over the years.
In 1971 I was 19 years old and my then 20-year-old boyfriend wanted to take an extensive summer motorcycle trip across the country from the Midwest through a semi-southern route, up the coast of California to Alaska and back again via northern roads. This sounded like the most exciting thing I could imagine in my life at that time.
I had $400 dollars saved and a vinyl, fleece-lined coat my father had given me. My boyfriend had $500 and a good pair of warm gloves he let me wear when it snowed or rained. We owned sleeping bags and a tent. He had a 650 Triumph (oh those electrical problems!), was a good driver, and gasoline was 29 cents per gallon.
I was ecstatic.
We ended up traveling thousands of miles in heavy wind, rain, fog and unbearable heat but also on perfectly crisp mornings, and amazing sunlit days. We traveled the Alaskan pipeline before it had been completed and helped a friend build a log cabin on his property in British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands.
We tested our mettle and we tested our relationship. Everything survived.
The memories of that summer don’t fade into oblivion like the summers I worked in the department store and ate pizza on Friday nights.
I took the courage I garnered from that trip into my future. I found out that I was not a lightweight, and that quality of spirit has served me many times over the years.
Buying a restaurant with no money
Similarly, after a six month trip to Europe almost a decade later, my husband Billy and I purchased a restaurant with some creative family financing. “Everyone” told us we should not pursue this venture and that we had surely overreached. We were 27 years old and our financial futures were on the line.
Failure wasn’t an option.
Our blood, sweat, and tears paid for that restaurant and it certainly was not an easy career choice. We did not have holidays off, a 401k program or an employer-sponsored pension. We paid for our own healthcare.
But on the other hand, we matured young and built a sense of self-reliance that money can’t purchase.
Blazing a new path
In 1991, at the age of 38, Billy and I decided to leave the conventional working world and begin traveling the globe. We sold our businesses, our home, cars and all of our belongings to venture out into uncharted waters.
My mother was critical and frightened and my father was secretly jealous. Our friends told us we were committing financial and social suicide. Who would leave perfectly good jobs and a gorgeous home a quarter mile from the ocean in Central California?
But we saw it differently.
The home, mortgage, cars and the collecting of “stuff” felt oppressive. We wanted adventure. Crossing oceans, experiencing people of different cultures, viewing vast geographical contrast and tasting cuisine outside of our defined norm energized us..
Almost three decades later we are still living our chosen lifestyle of wanderlust.
Where taking risks has gotten us
We hold the perspective that if there is a choice between taking a risk that will enrich our lives or staying put in entrenched security, we should take the risk.
If you were to look back on your life, the colorful, most outstanding memories are the ones where you reached for the stars, where you put yourself on the line and took a personal or professional chance.
I guess my point is that risk has a price but so does security. I think risk pays better.
About the Author
Akaisha Kaderli along with her husband are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.