Last post, I gave you a complicated way and a simple way to do it, and I told you my story (I started with the simple way). I also told you about how they end up getting us to the same place.
But I left out some important theory that helps explain why they’re equivalent. That’s today’s topic: Why does taking risks end up helping you define success, develop a clear philosophy of life, and take action?
To understand this, you need to know the concepts of the comfort zone, learning zone, and panic zone. I didn’t make this up, but it always surprises me that more people haven’t heard it.
The Panic Zone is where we end up if we take on too much. We feel overwhelmed, excessively anxious, and paralyzed by fear. There’s too much challenge, and the risks are too big. It’s definitely not pleasant. Maybe you’ve been there before?
But there’s a middle area where the risk is enough to be exciting, but not so much that it’s overwhelming: The Learning Zone! If we want to grow, this is where we need to be.
So, why does the simple technique of taking risks help us develop a philosophy of life?
It works like this: Any new ventures (cool stuff you want to do - joining new groups, trying new activities, meeting new people, travelling to a new country, chasing new goals, reading new books, etc) are “risks” because they all have the potential to challenge our ideas. We experience something unfamiliar, enter the learning zone, and it shakes up our old patterns and beliefs.
By studying engineering, for example, I was exposed to new subjects and different ways of problem solving. When I took my job after graduation, it was an experience that helped me reconsider my values. When I quit my job, the risk forced me to define a path that seemed more appealing – a new vision. Step by step, I created a new path for myself.
The really cool thing is that we don’t even have to go “all the way” with our risk in order to get the benefits; one step is totally sufficient to shake up our perceptions. Each step allows us to see around a new corner: New opportunities will emerge, and new doors will open. We can’t know what’s down the path until we take the step.
Whether we love the new venture or not, we get new experiences and new information, and we’re forced to rethink our paradigms, and that’s how we develop our philosophy!
Sometimes people suggest that I’ve wasted my engineering degree, but they’re wrong! Studying engineering opened my mind, shaped my thinking, and introduced me to some amazing people that eventually led to my new career! Taking a step doesn’t commit us to the path, it just moves us forward; we can always pivot and step in a new direction. New opportunities emerge with every step of the journey!
I'm really excited that you're reading this, and I'll hope you'll check out the rest of the blog! I’ll be posting about specific tools and activities – stuff that I’ve personally done to help develop my own philosophy of life and definition of success. They’ve made my life immeasurably better. But doing them is a risk, because they each have the potential to open your eyes to new possibilities. The more you do, the farther down the path you’ll go, and the more clarity you’ll find.
Today, I want you to think about this:
- Where in your life are you in the comfort zone? What’s boring? How might you make life a little more exciting?
- Where in your life are you in the panic zone? What’s overwhelming? How could you get back to a safer space?
- Where is the challenge just right? Stick with it!