A great New Year Resolution – Grab that chance! | Sunday Observer

A great New Year Resolution – Grab that chance!

Two days ago, a 21-year old young lady asked me to suggest a good resolution for 2018. Although I am not a believer in New Year resolutions, I quoted Henry David Thoreau, the great American philosopher, who said, “To realize your dream, you must be willing to exchange a piece of your life.”

I added my own interpretation, “I think, it translates like this: when a chance to reach your dream is offered by someone, calculate the pros and cons and if you believe the risk of failure is less than 50 per cent, grab it.”

I do not know whether she took my proposition seriously or not, but I’ve been practising it all my working life - all of them earned by Thoreau’s kind of coin. I changed my career six times during my 40 plus year work experience with no regrets, except for 4 months due to a risk calculation error. However, I ended up where I wanted to be.

No regret

This talk about chance and risk reminds me of a company director who was once staying in the same hotel I was in. One day, when the sea was rough and the surf was making the dunes shake, he waded out into the fury, ducked under a big roller and swam out to sea. On the second day morning, when he was getting ready to do the same feat, I asked him why. “I’ve wanted to do it all my life,” he replied. “Big waves always fascinate me. Then I weigh the dangers and decide whether to try it or not. If the answer is yes, I wade out, watch until one of those monsters tower up like a cliff; then I duck under. When I surface behind that wave, I am king of the world!”

His eyes twinkled. ‘ ‘No man can hope to control his destiny. The best he can hope for is to control himself - one single act at a time. Those acts are like bricks in a wall and reflect a man’s character.”

When I was a teenager, I once told my grandmother I was worried about taking a chance because of the fear of regretting it later. She smiled and said, “Trust me, son, that’s not what you’re going to regret when you’re my age. You will most likely kick yourself a lot for not taking more chances on the infinite number of opportunities you have today.”

And the older I get, the more I realize how right my grandmother was. Life is about trusting yourself and taking chances, losing and finding happiness, learning from experience, appreciating the memories, and realizing that every step is worth your while. But, you’ve got to be willing to take each step. You’ve got to give yourself a fair chance.

Life is a risk

Life is a series of calculated risks – nothing more. Everything that you decide to do has a margin of risk. No outcome is ever 100 percent certain and, therefore, any attempt at anything has a chance of complete failure. We risk everything, every day of our lives without knowing it. For example, there is always a chance that walking outside would kill us.

There’s a chance that we’d never make it to our destination, a chance we won’t get to see our loved ones again, a chance that tomorrow will never come. Life is all about risks – you take some and you avoid others.

Calculate risk

One of my friends worked for the Government for 20 years before deciding to start his own business. I helped him pinpoint his true passions and create a plan to profit from them.

After moving to a new province, instead of searching for another executive position in the private sector, he took his skills and experience of being an urban planner and translated them into a viable business for himself.

Nervous about venturing out on his own, he expressed that it was the biggest risk he had ever taken and worried about where the income and clients would come from. However, after being in business for two years, he has already landed multiple contracts and generated good income. Today, he’s much happier and experiencing life on a new level.

In some cases, taking chances requires some blind trust in yourself. Nothing is really guaranteed, you have to trust your instincts. Sometimes, your gut feeling would lead you down an unknown path but inside, you know something big is on the other side. Go for it, you’ll never know what you can accomplish until you do something you’ve never done before. Take the risk, and you’ll step into some of your biggest rewards.

Counter strategy

Jonathan Fields, American lawyer/writer wrote a book titled, ‘Uncertainty: Turning fear and doubt into fuel for Brilliance.” It was named, the top personal development book in 2011. He suggests that one way to manage anxiety about the outcome is to develop a plan for the worst possible result of any new venture. You need to be ready with a counter strategy to continue moving towards your dream or cut losses and return to where you were. This is the thing about taking chances. By definition, taking a chance means not being in full control. Reasonable chances offer reasonable amounts of control. Risky chances offer far less control. But of course, the paradox is that not taking chances doesn’t actually give us more control. It just keeps us from getting what we want.

Piece of life

I find myself coming back to Thoreau’s words concerning the true cost of a thing - anything. I stress that I do not advocate rashness: look before you leap. But, when I see a person, young or old, rich or poor, who has a realizable dream for which he is willing to exchange a piece of his life, I know, that person is building up toward the highest goal. He is rising to a new level of being, using his precious willpower to become stronger and wiser. 

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