What’s your definition of risk?

If someone asked me if I was a risk-taker by nature, I would say absolutely not. Hell no. I don’t take risks! I’m sensible, logical, practical, and I want an easy life.

Except, if I look at the choices I’ve made, I don’t think it would be right to say, categorically, that I’m not a risk-taker. And the thing I’m about to do next? Well, that is one big-ass risk.

But what is a risk, anyway? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:

A situation involving exposure to danger’

and

The possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen‘.

If I think about how I would define a risk, it would simply be:

Stepping out my comfort zone.

You know, that zone where you feel safe and secure. Where everything is familiar. Where, if you step out of that bubble, you’re faced with the unknown. A place where you can’t feel safe because you don’t have your bearings. A place where you can’t feel secure because you’ve been uprooted. A place that isn’t familiar because you’ve never been there before.

But let me ask you this. How did you find your comfort zone in the first place?

You weren’t born into it. You found your way there through a series of decisions. Many of those decisions will have been decisions you’d never made before. Does that make them risks? Some would argue yes (ahem, me). Doesn’t every decision affecting your life have an element of risk attached? Of taking you from where you are to where you’re going?

You can never be sure of the consequences.

I struggle with the concept of the comfort zone. I know I have one, and I know I like it (clue is in the name) but I also know I want to push myself out of it and into a new one. A better one. And that alone suggests that a comfort zone can only be comfortable for so long. Like a bed.

I remember buying the bed for my flat almost half a decade ago – good lord – and I’d narrowed it down to two. The lady said to me, “pick the one you would most like to crawl into when you get home from work and you’re really tired“. I kept running from one to the other, trying to decide. Eventually, I settled on one. Squishy, luxurious, ever-so-dream-inducing. We’re still together. It’s served me well, but it’s developed a few little lumps (I couldn’t afford memory foam, ok), and you can tell that even the bed is getting tired. In another few years I’ll probably be able to feel the springs.

Something that was once so wonderfully comfortable, after a little while and a little wear and tear, loses its comfort. Comfort becomes adequacy. Adequacy becomes discomfort. 

When you really think about it, how comfortable is your comfort zone? What’s keeping you in it?

And if you pushed yourself into something new, something which initially makes you feel small, scared, intimidated, vulnerable or <insert negative here>, could you completely rejuvenate the comfort you experience?

I guess that all depends on your definition of comfort.

This ‘thing’ I’m doing next. It terrifies me. It’s the opposite of comfortable. My comfort zone is on another flipping planet. But it’s the comfort I believe I can find as a result of taking a risk that spurs me on.

And if I let the fear of change stop me, I’d regret it more than I regret just eating half a tub of Haagen-Dazs. Which is a lot.

So tell me, what’s your definition of risk?

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