A lesson in risk taking in your career

There was a time whenever I had to make a decision about whether to leave a situation that was not working – whether it was to leave a job, a relationship, a toxic situation -- I would often freeze. I wouldn’t decide. I didn’t take action.

I thought by not deciding, maybe things would resolve on its own without my having to do anything about it. And yet sometimes I would convince myself that I was taking action. I did research. I talked to peers and colleagues about my options. I scrolled through job listings and even applied to a few. But still, things remained unchanged.

Can you relate?

Ending things by my own choosing was terribly difficult for me. Especially, if I believed it would be painful and uncomfortable. But the truth is, most times when something comes to an end, there will undoubtedly always be discomfort. It’s the reason why we most often choose to stay in situations even though we know they are not working. But we can only avoid things for so long. 

The fear of the ‘what if’s’ keep us holding on to painful situations for so long that the pain becomes a safety zone. A familiar place that is sometimes far better than the unknown.

I finally came to understand that if I wanted my situation to change, I had to get serious about stretching myself in ways that felt uncomfortable. And for me that meant, taking a risk

Now, I’m all for making small changes instead of big leaps in the beginning but enough small changes are just that, small. And they can keep you stuck playing small in your life.

The truth is, in order for us to create the change we truly desire, we have to allow ourselves room to take risks and trust that we can pick ourselves up if we fall. 

On the surface, taking a risk may look like

  • Leaving the comfort of a job to pursue what you really want
  • Enrolling in a grad school program with a hefty tuition
  • Turning down a job offer that looks good on paper but doesn’t fuel your sense of purpose

These are decisions we face every day and it doesn’t seem to get easier. Here’s how we can get wise about taking risks, without risking it all.

Don’t get caught up in the ‘How’.

We most often stop ourselves from making scary changes because we haven’t figured out how it’s going to work. I hate to break it to you but it’s not your job to know the ‘how’ or the full complete picture of how things will work out. Your only job, in the moment, is to trust yourself and take action. The ‘how’ invariably becomes clearer as long as you keep moving in the direction of your dreams. I have yet to work with someone who had an idea or a goal and was not able to figure out the ‘how’. Trust yourself, trust the process.

Ask yourself, ‘What’s the worse that could happen?

And if the worse happens, so what?’ We will never know our own true potential and abilities until we find ourselves in tight situations. It’s the only way we learn to become resilient, resourceful, and confident in our abilities to figure shit out. This can’t happen as long as we remain in our comfort zone of safety and security.

Check in with yourself.

There is such a thing as trusting your gut. Your inner guidance may be the very thing that is telling to take a risk. Women especially have an inner guidance but we tend to discount or not trust. Learn to start trusting yourself by checking in with yourself first rather than seeking outside for the answers. A good question to ask yourself is: ‘What does my gut say about this?’

You already know what your life looks like by playing it safe and avoiding risks. But what would be different if you began taking more chances on yourself? I promise you, life gets more interesting beyond our comfort zone.

Let me know how it goes.

To you and your dreams,


To get additional support on your career journey, email ariane@arianehunter.com to learn more about our Dream Discovery 1-on-1 sessions or sign up for the November women's career group coaching program -- see details here.