Risk-taking 101

In years past, I drafted lists of goals at the beginning of each new year. In several categories. And then Hubby got cancer—which wasn’t on any of my lists—and our main objective was to live as fully as possible while he still had life.


Photo credit: Unsplash

And then my uber-efficiency kicked in and I started reverting these unwritten *live-well* goals back into written lists. In several categories. (A control issue, do you think?)

Some of this year’s goals as a widow included:

  1. Migrate blog to WordPress. (Done.)
  2. Learn how to best utilize social media. (Still learning. Grumble, grumble.)
  3. Scatter Hubby’s ashes above Todd Lake. (Check.)
  4. Save a few ashes to scatter in the Swiss Alps. (Um … I may have forgotten to pack them.)
  5. Write the love story of how Hubby and I met and reared a family and faced down adversity — self-pitifully at first, but eventually with good humor and triumph. (First draft of book completed.)

One of my first agenda items for 2016 is to procure a literary agent for my book. Risky business, this. Because I’m setting myself up for rejection.

But it’s a necessary element — these submissions, these rejection letters — in order to get published.

There are numerous ways to set yourself up for rejection:

  1. Apply for a better job.
  2. Ask someone to marry you.
  3. Try out for a sport.
  4. Apply for college, med school, law school.
  5. Audition for a play, dance team, music group.
  6. Request permission from the city to start a community garden.
  7. Submit a grant proposal.

Here’s the thing to remember: The risk is so worth it. Because you’ll probably never get a date, a gig, or grant funding unless you ask, audition, or apply.

Life is much safer staying at a mediocre job, not furthering your education, setting aside your passion for singing, for writing. Safer and easier. And with less rejection.

This from Donald Miller in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years:

As soon as you point toward the horizon, life no longer feels meaningless. And suddenly there is risk in your story and a question about whether you’ll make it. You have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Think ahead to 2016:

  1. Capture your goals in writing. Writing down goals is critical. It helps clarify what it is we really want to accomplish with our lives. Equally, it’s important to read back over the list frequently. Otherwise our goals dim with the passing of time.
  2. Establish deadlines. Be realistic about setting a deadline—it’s OK to move the timeframe back a little, if needed—and determine first steps. What can you do today that will move you toward accomplishing the goal? What can you do this week? This month?
  3. Work in the direction of your goals. Pick up courage. Wrap it around you like one of those cool cloaks the Jedis wear. And work in the direction of your dreams.

These words from T. S. Eliot with 2016 in mind:

Fare forward, travellers.

I plan to continue traveling forward with my very-large-and-highly-improbable goals. Which means I’ll continue to set myself up for rejection. Because I’ve seen so many of these very-large-and-highly-improbable things checked off my lists through the years.

What about you? What risks should you take in 2016? Get out your paper and pen. Or laptop. Start writing.

P.S. If you found this post helpful or inspirational, please share, tweet or pin!


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  1. Juanita Vianelle

    Marlys my dear Bend friend. I’ve been reading through your website and find this post extremely helpful. Love you!!

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