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Dare to Take Risks

A ScooterLink Publication
A column for today's seniors by Cyn LoPinto, M.A., Gerontologist

Are you the type of individual that still enjoys taking a few risks in his/her life? Or, on the other hand, have you found yourself opting for things that are mostly predictable and ordinary? As we get older, many of us tend to be a bit more cautious than we were in our youth. Perhaps life's experiences push us into a protective mode, causing us to concentrate on the dangers and problems of a new venture, instead of seeing what the positive aspects might be.

We can all conjure up memories of times as children in which we "threw caution to the wind," and just went along with what our gut was saying. We took a chance. It was this internal message that encouraged us to go towards unknown territory. It was all a part of growing up and testing the waters.

The testing didn't stop after childhood either. When we finally left our parents' house and went out on our own, we definitely entered a period of uncertainty. But with the independence that came from such a big move, the price was well worth it. It was a time of self-discovery and growth.

For many, marriage was another mysterious step that young adults took a chance at. Whether you went directly from your parents' house or from a place of your own, sharing an intimate relationship with another human being is a major adjustment. I doubt few of us went into this stage looking at the risks, but more likely thought about the "payoffs." Once again we took a chance.

For those of us who were privileged enough to have children of our own, we entered one of the most unknown roles of all, that of parents! This life stage is also the most perfect example of an outcome being well worth the gamble. Between childbirth and child rearing, who knew what was in store? None of us were really sure. However, like before, we just figured it out.

In the work-world, it was probably the same thing. Many of us learned "on the job" with very little structured training and guidance. We got in there and did our best. As our jobs went through the normal changes and modifications, we adapted accordingly. These may have been overwhelming at the time, but we did it anyway.

So here it is today, and as we look in the mirror, we need to ask ourselves some important questions. Have we taken any chances recently? Have we tried something where the outcome isn't necessarily a given? Or, have we been hanging out primarily in our "comfort zone" too afraid to take a chance on what may be around the corner?

While it is a smart idea to listen to that voice inside warning about impending risks, make sure you aren't avoiding new experiences for the wrong reasons. Many of us engage in anticipatory worrying that stops us from taking a chance on new opportunities. These "what ifs" can be crippling, and most of the time, our worrying is a waste. Our imagination gets the best of us and none of our conceived problems end up happening.

What we need to do is take pride in the way we have handled things throughout our life and in all we have accomplished. Let this confidence rise again and guide us to continue on in our journey of experimentation. Don't worry about failing or "doing it wrong." As long as you are trying, it is a success. Participating in new ventures is what living is all about. You know you can do it. I dare you!


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