At the end of January 2015 I made a list of 28 personal growth ‘risks’ – one for each day in February. I committed to complete these ‘risks’ by the end of February.
I have completed 27 of the ‘risks’ on my list by 28th February and will finish the final risk on March 1st.
What I found:
- Brainstorming a list of ‘risks’ beforehand was a brilliant idea. It forced me to put in one place a list of 28 small personal risks – mostly things that I was procrastinating on. It was a challenge to come up with the list – try it yourself! However once you have your list it is exciting to think to yourself – ‘hey, I can have all these done by the end of the month’. For sure you know that the month will not be wasted and you will make progress in your life having achieve these ‘risks’.
- At the beginning of the month the list was there in front of me and I knew what I had to get all these things done. In the past I would try and take a risk a day but would have to come up with the risk the night before. This was not very efficient as it allowed me to procrastinate on certain risks. Some days I did not have the energy to think of a risk or simply avoided the exercise.
- Risks can be done in batches. I found that some days I had way more energy and was in the right place mentally to go beyond the comfort zone. I was able to do a number of risks at the same time. Other days, when I did not feel like it, I did not have to do any – the main objective was to complete my 28 risks by the end of the month.
- It felt really good to check off the risks as they were done and watch my list dwindle as the month wore on. I created a category in Microsoft Outlook called ‘Today’s Risk’ and when I clicked complete they would disappear from view. However manage your own list what ever way works best for you. You could also simply write them out by hand and cross them off when done.
- In some way I had turned taking small risks into a game. It was actually fun to do things on my list so that I could tick them off. There was a psychological payoff from going beyond my comfort zone.
- I noticed that there were knock on benefits to pushing out of the comfort zone in that I was getting used to doing taking small risks. In other words I found myself doing other things which would I would normally have made me feel uncomfortable but this time I was just doing them automatically. I could feel my comfort zone expanding.
- Some of the things I achieved in February as a result of my ‘Risk’ list: I joined two clubs that I have been meaning to join for perhaps two years. I also reconnected with a number of people I have not heard from in some time. I communicated with a number of people online who I did not know but respected their work. I also asked someone I know for a business partnership which may come to fruition later. In some way taking small risks is like planting seeds which may change the course of my life! Sometimes I think we can underestimate the benefits which may flow from small actions such as calling someone up, asking a good question or sending an email etc.
The experiment was a great success and I am incorporating this practice into my life from now on. On reflection small personal growth risks are also seeds which may grow into something really positive for the future. What appear to be simple acts such as contacting a stranger with whom you share a common interest, joining a club through which you will meet new people, reconnecting with old friends or asking for something like a business partnership can lead to large payoffs later. Therefore don’t underestimate the power of taking a small step. I am sure you have heard the saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step“.
Each month from now on I am committing to make a list of small ‘risks’ or small challenges, or small steps to push me out of my comfort zone. I will make the list at the end of the previous month/start of the new month. So for March I will have a list of 31 small ‘risks’. The only rule is that I must have completed my list of risks by the end of the month. I can do them in batches or one per day – its totally up to me. Please join me and share your experience of this experiment.
It is February 28th as I write this and I just made my March list of 31 risks – wow – the ‘risks’ seem to be bigger this month – I can already see that my life will have changed for the better by the end of March. I challenge you to join me and share your experiences!
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson