Guidelines for Successful Risk Taking

Although risking is by definition uncertain, there are things that you can do and not do to help you become more successful at taking risks.

  • Know the purpose of the risk. The amount of potential benefit should be considered in determining whether a risk is worth taking or not. You might be willing to take certain risks for a larger potential reward than you would for a smaller potential payoff.
  • Consider your options. Study all of the choices available to you so that you can choose the most workable plan of action.
  • Seek advice. Especially when it comes to career risks you may wish to consult a mentor or trusted superior. In other situations try to find someone who has taken a similar risk that has worked out well and ask them how they managed to overcome the obstacles.
  • Make a timetable. Risks usually require the successful completion of specific key tasks. Deciding on a timetable for each successive task will typically reduce the unpredictability and thus the stress of risk taking.
  • Assess the potential loss. Acknowledging the consequences of the worst that can happen is part of successful risk taking. By facing the possibility of losses, you will be better prepared to prevent them.
  • Know yourself. Being realistic about your ability to tolerate the uncertainty of risk taking and dealing with possible failure will help you choose manageable risks and avoid traumatic risks. Common Pitfalls to Avoid in Risk Taking.
  • Being unrealistic. Goals are rarely achieved by taking one risk that is successful 100% of the time. It is far more likely that you will need to take several risks with varying degrees of success to reach your goal.
  • Rushing. Careful planning is one of the secrets of successful risking. Take time to think things through, anticipate setbacks and execute your plans well.
  • Risking a lot for little gain. Only you can define what a "lot" and what a "little" mean to you. Don't sacrifice something important for a possible payoff that is less than what you are giving up.
  • Taking risks out of foolish pride. Taking risks just for the sake of maintaining others' approval is almost always a hazardous and foolish experience that can have dramatic consequences. A little embarrassment (real or imagined) is far less devastating than the long reaching consequences of an ill-conceived risk.
  • Risking more than you have to lose. Never "bet the ranch" financially or emotionally. Know your resources and take your risks within your limitations.