Take Risks and Prosper

Take RisksEvery now and then people ask some great questions that really get you thinking.  One that was asked of me recently was this:

what one thing do you wish you would have known or done 10 years ago that would have changed your life sooner?

Tricky one isn’t it?  I’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years and now know a few things that would have been good to implement sooner, but when I think about it, the best thing would be knowing:

Not to be afraid

I think that this advice can extend to absolutely anything you do and while I’m no Evel Knievel, I think that mastering your fears is the biggest key to a successful life.  Different people fear different things but conquering them generally involves asking yourself this question;

How much am I willing to risk to achieve my dreams?

Risky Business

I’d rate myself as a fairly conservative person really, the most extreme thing I do is a bit of rock climbing and that is pretty tame when you compare the injury potential to something like contact sports.  My lack of risk taking also extends to my personal finances as well, I’m just not the ‘all in’ kind of person.  I’m crap at gambling and when it comes to investing I’d rather spread my risk and invest in things that don’t fluctuate wildly.  Some people might call this the slow track, but while I might not be ready to go day trading in the stock market, I have made some financial decisions that might make other people a little nervous.

Luckily for my family and I, the stability that we have created through passive investing has allowed us to take risks in other areas of our lives.  The risks that I am far more likely to take are those that contribute to improving my lifestyle and that of the people I love.  I like to think of it as intelligent risk taking, which basically involves acting on informed decisions. Looking back on some of my risks now, they don’t seem too huge as they have all turned out really well, but at the time they felt pretty scary!

My First Big Risk

The first big risk I took was a few years after I started my first job.  My wife (then my girlfriend) and I had moved interstate, we both had good jobs and had bought our first house, which we planned to keep as an investment.  After a while we started to miss our family and friends and knew that we wanted to return to our home state.  We made the decision to move back by the end of that year.  My wife found work immediately and left 3 months before me, In the meantime I had found a house to buy back home and we took the plunge and bought again.  Buying another house was a big enough risk in itself, but at the end of the year I still hadn’t found a job and it was time to make a decision.  To be honest I didn’t really think twice at the time, so I quit my job and left.  There were a few nervous moments, having two mortgages and only one of us working, but I was confident in our ability to make it work.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait too long before finding a new job and things continued along swimmingly.  I guess they could have gone either way, but my ‘risk’ was a calculated one.  I had already worked out what our minimum required income was and I knew we could get it even if I had to find a lower paying job for a while.

Increasing Your Risk

The thing about risk taking is that you often tend to up the stakes if you pulled the last one off successfully.  My wife and I have taken some more risks since the first one and each has worked out pretty well for us; like renovating our home and taking the whole project on ourselves, changing jobs to improve an aspect of our lives (rather than focusing on pay), or deciding to grow our family by having our first baby and my wife taking 9 months off without pay to look after her.  These ‘risks’ have all been based on lifestyle decisions that we have made together and because we have been committed to them, they really haven’t been overly risky in the end.

The most recent risk we took was last year, just before my wife gave birth to our daughter.  We had been busy living our lives and doing the things we loved and forgot about the financial side of wealth creation for a while.  To rectify this, we bought another investment property 3 weeks before my wife finished work and 5 weeks before we had our baby.  This latest purchase should keep us on our toes for a while, particularly with my wife off work, but we had done our homework again and made allowances for the costs associated with another investment.  (If you are interested in how I invest in property, here is some more information about my investment strategy).

Intelligent Risk Taking

I think that taking the initial risk early on in our lives really helped give us confidence with some of the later risks we have taken.  Yes, we have been lucky, but we have also believed in ourselves and what we can achieve.  To me, this belief is the most important factor of all.  If you believe in yourself, then the odds are already heavily stacked in your favour, if you don’t then there is a good chance you have already committed yourself to failure.

It is easy enough to desire something, even map out a pathway to help you succeed, but it takes a lot more commitment to actually put the wheels in motion.  The only way that you can really get over the fear of doing something is to practice.  Once you have learned how to succeed, you’ll find it a lot easier the next time.  If you are up to it, I’d like to challenge you to take a risk.  It doesn’t matter what it is, it can be anything you want, big or small, if you commit to it here, I promise to commit back and encourage you all the way.

The Challenge

If you are game, I want you to do the following:

  1. Decide on your risk.  Is it going to do with your work, personal finances, lifestyle or something else you have always wanted to do.  Think carefully about this and don’t commit to more than you can handle, this isn’t roulette and we aren’t gambling, we are making informed choices to improve a part of our lives.
  2. Once you have decided on what it is you want to do, use a logical process to work through the choices and determine the possible outcomes before you make a move.  If you don’t feel comfortable, or the end result could be catastrophic, don’t do it.  If it involves a lot of work and puts you out of your comfort zone, but doesn’t put your life, or your family at risk, then you are probably on the money.
  3. Tell me what it is here in the comments section so that we make it real and I can encourage you and hold you to it.  I will happily track your progress and be your number 1 supporter, not matter how long it takes!
  4. Go make it happen and report back here often for a whole bunch of back slapping and further encouragement from me and others that are doing the same thing.

Good Luck!

Image by By GoGap

  1. I want to build my business in SA and help others on their path to prosperity. My goal is to assist six (or more) South Australians to invest in residential investment properties by December 2011.

    • Hi Karen,

      What a great goal! There is always some risk involved in a business venture, but setting a specific goal like this is a great way to motivate yourself and stay on target.

      Make sure to come back to tell us how you go!

  2. Great post! I’m an all-in, take the risk, but wear a helmet kind of person. Not literally wear a helmet, but you know what I mean. I look at risk as an opportunity to push to the next level. Look at it along the same lines as courage: acknowledging the fear, but charging ahead anyway.

    Risk is all about angst: to fear what you desire. In order to reach that desire, you have to be willing to face the fear. Do it smartly by planning ahead and being prepared for the worst case scenario, but once you jump on the horse, don’t focus on the ground.

    Did any of that make sense? LOL

    • Hey Jessica,

      Thanks for the great input, it made perfect sense. Do you have a ‘risk’ in mind that you are willing to share?

  3. This is such a great post. I was astonished after reading the line “How much am I willing to risk to achieve my dreams?” I also ask myself because I always fear at almost everything. If I have to move back 10 yrs ago, I would have overcame my fears and worries about achieving my dreams.

  4. Hmm A very interesting perspective. I looked it as do what you have to do to make it big. Dont lie on your couch and wait for the money to come to you. When you plan and work towards your goals, you are sure to suceed.

    • Hi Eddie,

      I think that you are spot on there, being proactive plays a huge part in success.

  5. i agree that taking smart risks is really the only way to get ahead financially whether it’s with an investment or starting a business.
    I felt like i took a big risk when i bought a house at the height of the recession in 2009. There was still a chance that house prices would tank even more, but i figured that more likely prices would stabilize and eventually return to normal. I got a great deal and even though home sales are still struggling, i could make about $100k profit if i sold it today.

    There are alot of money making opportunities in a down market. The same could’ve been done with stocks a couple years ago.

    My brother also bought a house and kept his old house. It sounds very scary to have 2 mortgages at the same time, but if you can handle it financially and deal with the extra stress, it might be the right move.

  6. I want to start writing a book and become a published writer. I wanted to start my own business and have tried many and failed…with no profit.
    I want to hit the lottery for $50,000 and relax for a year. But, I’m not consistent or persistent. I give up to soon, but then I start all over again with another project. Where is my stick-to-itness.
    I’m afraid to lose more money. However, I do give away quite a bit of money to others and that make me feel good, so I don’t mind being broke as long as I can pay my bills. However, I wish I knew what it was like to not have to look at the price tag on something that I would like to buy or just pay cash for a house or car…just because I had the money.

  7. I want to resign from my job, which will leave me with living with my parents and depending on them. but if I take this risk, I can have the option of going back to college and taking a job that will compliment my goals for my future.