Am I taking a big risk here?

YOLO make it count woman jumping in front of yellow background with umbrella

Sometimes we get a crazy idea in our head that just won’t let us go. On one hand, we feel tempted to just say “YOLO” and go for it. But on the other hand, it just seems too risky…

The problem with YOLO isn’t that it’s bad advice, but that it isn’t actually advice at all: it’s a statement of fact. You DO only live once, which means that you should both live your life as fully as you are able, AND make sure to avoid taking super bad risks that could result in permanent, negative consequences for years to come.

It’s OK to be cautious. If you’re facing a big decision, try to slow it down a little. Take a deep breath. If someone is pressuring you, ask if that pressure needs to be there—and if it doesn’t, walk away for a little and come back to it. Take time to understand what your decision might lead to:

  • What would failure look like? Would it be manageable, or a complete catastrophe?
  • What’s the worst likely thing that could happen? Don’t freak yourself out with wildly improbable worst-case scenarios. Keep your fears realistic.
  • Is it now or never? Consider timing. We can get fixed in a “this is my only chance” mindset that may not be true. Don’t put your dreams off forever, but also give yourself space to do them justice.
  • What do I hope to gain or accomplish? Is this something you’ve been thinking of for a long time? Or is it just a whim? Avoid making decisions with big consequences on a whim.
  • What do I risk by NOT moving ahead? Inaction is also a decision.

When we say to ourselves “that’s too risky,” what we probably mean is “I’m afraid.”

And that’s OK. Your fear is telling you that there’s something to be concerned about, something that merits some extra attention. But it’s NOT telling you what to do.

Weigh your fears against what you hope to accomplish and what you might lose by NOT acting, because the greater risk would be to lose a chance to become the person you’re meant to be.

You only live once.

Make it count.

Iris Proctor
Iris is the director of ArborWoman.