Whilst some caution in life is necessary, if you feel you’re overly cautious and it’s holding you back from living a fun, exciting life, it might be time to make some changes!
The truth is, taking risks might sound scary, but if you do it properly and with a balance of caution and courage, you can open up a whole world of possibilities.
In this article, I’ll be sharing 10 signs you’re too cautious, and what to do to start taking calculated risks!
1) You constantly seek approval before making decisions
One of the first signs you’re too cautious is when you always feel the need to ask those around you for their opinions on your decisions.
While this is normal to a degree, it points to a bigger problem if you can’t do simple things like go out for dinner or buy a new phone, without needing the approval of other people to validate your decision.
The bottom line is:
It shows that you struggle to trust your own judgment.
The next time you’re about to ask a friend or family member for their opinion on something fairly small and insignificant, hold yourself back.
Give it a go and see where you end up – this is the only way to build confidence and trust in your decisions! Plus, it’s a calculated risk as you’re not making life-changing plans, just something as simple as selecting a restaurant for dinner will do.
2) You overthink every situation
One of the reasons why you may need other people to validate your choices is that you overthink every situation to such a degree that you experience “analysis paralysis”.
Put simply, this is where you spend so long weighing up the pros and cons that you end up completely blocked and unable to move forward!
And while analyzing your decisions is a good thing, there has to be a balance between taking a calculated risk and listening to your intuition.
Try setting a timer. Allow yourself a set amount of time to gather all your information, analyze it and make a decision once the timer is up.
You may feel the pressure the first couple of times you try this, but once you get into the swing of it, you’ll see how much quicker you’re able to make decisions!
3) You avoid new experiences
Do you struggle to push yourself out of your comfort zone?
Do new experiences freak you out?
If so, it’s another warning sign you’re too cautious! The truth is, many of us struggle to step outside of what we deem “safe” but for personal development to happen, it’s essential that we do this regularly.
Challenge yourself to try one new thing every week. It could be small experiences, like joining a local arts and crafts club, or taking a day trip to a nearby town by yourself.
Go without expectations and see what happens – you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn but also how much your confidence increases each time you get out of your comfort zone!
4) You always play it safe
Now, if you tend to avoid new experiences, it’s only natural that you prefer playing it safe!
So, what does this look like? A few examples include:
- Declining new opportunities such as a promotion because you feel secure in your current job (even if it’s not fulfilling or challenging you)
- Getting to the airport 4 hours before the recommended time “just in case”
- Staying in the same hometown even though you’d like to move
But on an even smaller scale, this might look like never trying new food, or avoiding listening to music you’re unfamiliar with.
This could be because you’re afraid of failure; if you stick with things you already know, you reduce that risk.
When making decisions, weigh up the pros and cons but also check in with your emotions. Are you playing it safe out of fear, or is it really not a good opportunity?
The more you recognize the role your emotions play, the quicker you can start working through them and take more calculated risks!
5) You rarely experience failure
There’s no denying that failure is a necessary part of life, it’s something we all have to go through. But each time we fail at something, we learn.
So, if you can’t remember the last time you failed at something, it’s another sign you’re too cautious!
When you embrace the possibility of failure, it opens up a whole new world of opportunities – some things won’t work out, but many things will!
Set a personal goal to try something new, even if there’s the possibility you won’t get it right the first time. It could be something as small as taking a ceramics class or doing some DIY (upholstering furniture or fixing a bike are good examples).
If you fail, instead of seeing it as something negative, reflect on what you could do better the next time and try again!
6) You don’t have any regrets
People usually regret things that went wrong, or opportunities they missed. In either case, if you don’t have any regrets it shows a lack of taking risks and putting yourself out there!
Sure, it might feel good to say you’ve got no regrets, but it goes hand in hand with never trying anything new or taking steps to improve yourself or your quality of life.
And the bottom line is, regrets teach us a lot. Just as experiencing failure is important to our personal growth, so is making mistakes and learning from them!
In line with all the advice above, the best thing to do is keep pushing yourself to try new things. Of course, you don’t need to go out there and intentionally mess things up just so you can have regrets in the future – that’s not the aim.
The point is to allow yourself to experience new things. You may have regrets in the future, but you may also gain a lot too!
7) You focus on worst-case scenarios
Does your mind spin straight to the worst-case scenario?
While considering the worst-case scenario is never a bad thing, if done too often or taken to the extreme, it can seriously hold you back from trying new things or gaining new experiences.
When you realize you’re spiraling and thinking of the worst (sometimes even irrational thoughts), try to focus on the positive instead.
Yes, your speech could end with everyone laughing at you, or it could go smoother than you thought and you’ll leave a great impression on your boss!
It’s all about reframing how you think about taking risks – weigh up the pros and cons, and think rationally about the probability of the “worst-case scenario” coming true.
8) You struggle to trust people
Now, another sign you’re too cautious and need to take more calculated risks is how you engage with others and form relationships.
Do you take an extremely long time to trust people, even as casual acquaintances? Do you find this stops you from making friends easily?
Look, it’s always good to exercise some caution when meeting new people, but there has to be a balance. We’d never get into relationships or form friendships if we keep everyone at arm’s length!
When meeting someone new, take calculated risks by opening up to them slowly. No need to rush, but do start to share your vulnerable side the more you get to know them.
Sure, the friendship might not lead anywhere or they may end up being an unkind person…but you’ll never know if you don’t try!
9) You’re often stressed or anxious
As a result of all of the above, you may often feel stressed or anxious…and who would blame you!
All of that worrying would take its toll on anyone.
This is where being cautious to the extreme can cause a knock-on effect – you don’t try new things, you feel stagnant, frustration kicks in, and it’s a never-ending cycle.
But the truth is most of us deal with stress and anxiety on a daily basis – the key is learning how to manage it so it doesn’t spiral out of control or have long-term effects on our lives!
Make sure you’re eating, sleeping, and exercising well. Look after your mental, emotional, and physical health by practicing self-care. This will set up a good foundation for you to then put the other points in this article into action!
In all honesty, once you start getting out of your comfort zone and taking calculated risks, your confidence and self-esteem will naturally increase. This will eventually reduce how stressed and anxious you feel!
10) You lack spontaneity
The final sign you’re too cautious and need to take more calculated risks is if you lack spontaneity.
When was the last time you felt like doing something out of your routine, and you went for it?
Not only is being spontaneous exhilarating and fun, but it can lead to so many opportunities!
Be open to last-minute, unplanned invitations. Challenge yourself to say yes to things, even if you don’t have the time to prepare for them.
In addition, set aside time each week to do something unusual – it doesn’t have to be wild but it should be something that you’d normally turn down out of caution!
If you can put the above advice into action, there’s a good chance that by the end of the year, you’ll have learned to balance caution with embracing challenges and taking risks!