Last summer, thanks to COVID, we took our first family road trip. We decided to escape the Texas heat and head to Colorado for a week.
Colorado holds tons of adventures for outdoor lovers. My family enjoys a little adventure, so we booked a white water rafting trip.
Honestly, white water rafting wasn’t on my bucket list. I’m a mediocre swimmer at best. I don’t like cold water. I prefer being warm and dry. My upper body has never been my strongest asset (I could never quite manage more than one pull-up on the Presidential Fitness Test), so controlling a raft down a raging river seemed daunting.
While my family excitedly discussed our plans, for a moment, I got stuck on the risk involved. However, I’m a bit of a risk-taker. Not the parkour on skyscrapers kind of risk-taker, but I do like stretching outside of my comfort zone to see what’s possible.
So, that’s how I found myself white water rafting in Colorado and actually enjoying it.
You encounter risks every day. Eating, driving, getting out of bed each morning involves some risk. Typically, we make automatic judgments about whether a given risk is worth taking. However, some risks come with bigger stakes. If you tend to shy away from anything where you assume that the potential losses are too great, I want to challenge you to take a new approach to assessing risk.
What do you value?
Let’s say that you’re considering asking for a half-day off per week for self-development. You worry that you might be viewed as a complainer or unable to manage clinical expectations. You risk changing how others view you as a physician and team member.
Now let’s suppose that your core values include your health and well-being. Nowhere on your list is other people's perception of you. Prioritizing your health and well-being means that this risk might be worth taking.
What are you willing to sacrifice?
Sometimes we get comfortable in the status quo in our lives. Stepping out of our comfort zone demands that we sacrifice what we know for the unknown. Even if your current situation is unfavorable, the thought of doing something different might seem scarier.
Making adjustments to your work schedule to accommodate regular time off might mean making sacrifices. You may lose free time on the days that you’re working or the security of being seen as a “team player”.
On the flip side, not asking for the time-off might mean sacrificing your mental health, time with loved ones, or time to focus on non-clinical interests.
When you’re assessing the risk in a given situation, take a look at the sacrifices that you’ll have to make on both sides to help guide your decision.
What will you lose by not taking the risk?
When you’re considering taking a risk, you’re probably hoping it will lead to a better situation than the one you’re currently in. If you don’t take the risk, at best things will stay the same, and at worst, they’ll continue to deteriorate.
No doubt, resigning from a job is scary and full of uncertainty. However, remaining in a toxic work environment will continue to negatively impact your physical and mental health and well-being. Staying put might even lead to more significant effects such as depression or burnout.
Most of us focus on what we’ll lose if taking the risk doesn’t turn out as we hope. Consider what you might lose if you don’t take the risk. The potential losses involved in taking a risk are often obvious, but the losses involved in not taking a risk are often just as important.
If I hadn’t gone white water rafting with my family, I would have lost the opportunity to enjoy a new adventure and to stretch beyond my comfort zone. Growth happens in stretching.
So remember, on the other side of risk is what’s possible. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity for seeing where possibility can take you.