One day your heart will stop beating and none of your fears will matter. What will matter is how you lived – Henri Junttila
What makes people prone to risk aversion in life? Recently I was speaking to a friend, in her early 40s, who commented that she gets older, the more she’s scared of taking a risk. She figured that she has MORE to lose now, and the thought of doing something bold, like quitting her job, following her dreams, or taking bigger actions just became more and more daunting.
And it’s a common complaint. We refer to people who are young as ‘young, free and single,’ and we tell them to ‘do it while you can.’
But it’s not a complaint I agree with.
I don’t agree that as you get older, you have more to lose.
You have LESS.
With every day that goes by, you have LESS life left to live.
This is summed up perfectly by Steve Jobs, who famously said:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
What he said applies to all of us, even though we may not have terminal cancer that Jobs had. We ALL have terminal life; it’s just that he had an estimate of when. We don’t.
How to Overcome Risk Aversion in Life
To say “I’m older, I’ve got more to lose” is a lie. It’s a made-up story that keeps you safe. But it doesn’t protect you from regret.
Bronnie Ware, a nurse who spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives, reported that the number one regret of the dying is this:
‘I wish I’d dared to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.’
She writes: “This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize until they no longer have it.”
So if you’re finding yourself more risk-averse as you get older, consider that you’re facing the BIGGEST risk of all – leaving this earth with a load of ‘should have’s’ ‘ and wanted to’s.’
Don’t take the risk, because all of the best things in life live outside of your comfort zone.