5 signs you’ve become risk-averse in life (and it’s holding you back)

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If you want to achieve anything of value in this life, risk will always be in the equation. 

Think of the greatest innovators in history, the revolutionary artists, the most successful business people–none of them would have reached such towering heights by playing it safe. 

So unless you’re content with living an ordinarily mundane and predictable life, then it’s time to change things up. 

Now nobody is telling you to start regularly driving recklessly under the influence or invest your life savings into the get-rich-quick scheme you saw on Instagram. 

Instead, start developing the awareness that taking some calculated risks every now and then will do you good. 

But first, you need to know if you are indeed risk averse. 

In this article, I’ll tackle that and more. Let’s get into it!

1) You overthink decisions

Have you heard of ‘analysis paralysis’? 

Well, this is the fairly common tendency to overanalyze every minute decision to such an extreme degree, that you end up missing opportunities. 

Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut. 

Sure, consider all the facts, but at the same time don’t ruminate to oblivion.

As a bit of an overthinker myself, this is something I can certainly attest to. 

When you overthink things, this can often lead to self-induced pressure and therefore poorer, delayed decisions. 

2) You seek guarantees 

As cliche as it sounds, the truth really is that nothing in this life is guaranteed. 

So if you feel you cannot move forward without absolute assurance, you’re doing yourself a disservice. 

You, being risk averse, might tend to gloss over these facts and settle for mediocrity. 

Let me share an experience I had with someone like that. 

Apart from being a writer, I also founded a restaurant business in 2014. Pandemic aside, we’ve enjoyed some modest success as a company–enough that we have been able to attract some interest from potential investors. 

Some years ago, we had a promising lead from a regular customer who had come into some money and was looking to plant it somewhere. 

As talks progressed, it almost seemed like a done deal. We shook on it and everything.

But when my attorney and I went through his proposed contract, it was incredibly, almost insultingly one-sided, mitigating himself of even the slightest bit of risk. 

Something that, when we brought it up, he was vehemently opposed to changing. 

So, long story short, we didn’t pursue that partnership. 

The thing about business, and entrepreneurship in particular, is it will always involve some risk. 

And if you have enough vision, self-belief, and desire for discovery, you’ll overcome that apprehension. 

And if you’re not, then perhaps you’re better off playing it safe, which can mean a limiting and predictable life. 

Your call. 

3) You have a deep hesitancy to invest 

Since we’re on the topic, as any self-respecting financial guru will tell you, you’re not supposed to just hoard your money, you should invest it

Now granted, there are infinite scams out there, some of which are very convincing and sophisticated. 

But as long as you’re smart and think tactfully, seeking advice where necessary, then you’ll be in good shape. 

Things like stocks, real estate, bonds, and the occasional small business are all solid investment choices–assuming the numbers check out. 

But when sinking your funds into a business, don’t limit yourself. 

Do your due diligence, and don’t be afraid to venture into uncharted water, slowly but surely. 

There are many out there who have money but limit their investment opportunities.

For instance, I can name a few people of a certain generation with masses of disposable cash yet will never touch anything involving technology or the internet–simply because they feel “too old” to understand it and, therefore, remain permanently wary. 

Fair enough. 

But if they had the boldness to delve just a bit deeper, they’d realize that there’s literally a whole universe of investment opportunities they’re missing out on. 

I’ll bet the early stockholders of Macintosh or Microsoft weren’t all computer whizzes, but what they were was not completely averse to risk. 

And well, we all know how that turned out.

4) You have a fear of failure

Sometimes, your aversion to risk is deeper than simply not wanting to take risks. 

Sometimes, it is rooted in an ingrained fear of failure. 

Perhaps you’re constantly preoccupied with doomsday scenarios and potential pitfalls, which overtake any excitement that comes with the prospect of success. 

Life is all about growth, about learning and bouncing back from mistakes and shortcomings

But when you have a fear of failure, any lessons from mistakes are not really taken into account. 

All you know is: failure sucks and therefore, you won’t bother trying again. 

Maybe you were once rejected by your crush in high school. 

If you let that feeling of failure define you and your appetite for romantic pursuits, you’ll never truly be happy in that regard. 

Conversely, the person who has enough fortitude to get up and try again will eventually achieve success and fulfillment. Be that person. 

5) You are resistant to change 

There’s undoubtedly value in tradition. 

When it comes to things like personal style, doing business, the foods you eat, and the places you visit, there is comfort in familiarity, in the classic choices. 

But when you become too fixated on maintaining norms and the status quo, you’re also resisting progress, which can mean growth plateaus, a lack of evolution, and stagnation

In addition, sticking with tried-and-true methods can hold you back from your creative potential. And as you know by now, variety and diversity are very much the spice of life. 

As a teenager with low self-worth and therefore also an aversion to risk, I was dressing like a fifty-year-old man at age fifteen. 

I was too meek, too afraid to be scrutinized by my peers that I refused to take any fashion risks. 

I ended up regularly looking like a geography teacher. 

With youth should come the vigor for adventure and exploration. 

So by maintaining my austere sense of style, I was stifling my creative and social opportunities. 

While I had the desire to be like the other kids, to be ‘normal’, I couldn’t gather the resolve to change things up, always settling for less in the process. 

We’re only young once. 

Personally, I regret not getting out there more and taking risks as a teen, not just in terms of fashion, but in life in general. 

Final words

Being cautious is always encouraged. 

But once you allow this feeling to dictate your life decisions, this can be concerning. 

As mentioned, nobody’s forcing you to become an impulsive daredevil. 

But realize that to get the most out of life, there will perpetually be an element of risk involved. 

So if you have a tendency to be risk-averse, start with smaller, calculate risks. 

And if it doesn’t work out for you, make the necessary alterations, and try again. 

Along with the willingness to change, more and more amazing opportunities will present themselves. The ball is in your court. 

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