If you want to make big moves in life, you have to take risks. But taking risks isn’t easy, and it puts most people in unfamiliar territory. Unfamiliar territory can, in turn, often feel dangerous and cumbersome. The human mind loves familiarity, as familiarity usually means safety in some form as well as access to resources. This love of familiarity is literally hardwired into our brains and with good reason. During our evolution, those who could remember where water holes and predators were located, well, they had a better day!

Tossing all of this familiarity aside and deciding to take risks and think outside the box can be very difficult and feel scary. Yet, it is critical that you realize that this is exactly what you may need to do to reach your career or business goals. Taking bold and decisive action at the right moment in time may be what separates you from the fulfilling life you want and living a life that is less than what you dream. Oddly enough, walking away from the security of the know into the insecurity of the unknown is likely what you’ll need to do to achieve your goals and happiness.

Step One-Just How Big of a Risk Are We Talking About Here?

Risks are not "one-size fits all" affairs. If you are not accustomed to taking any risks at all, then even a small risk may seem huge. Keep this fact in mind as you move forward.

You need to first think about what the risk is you are contemplating and then measure that risk against reality. Will your business or livelihood go “down the drain” if you fail? Or is the risk in question a minor or medium risk move? Understanding the difference can go a long way towards helping you decide just how cautious you need to be. The greater the potential downside of failure, the greater your preparation must be, period!

Step Two-What Motivates You?

Finding the courage to take risks and think outside the box often comes down to motivation. If you want or need more courage to take the steps you need to take to be happy, then you need to step back and think about what motivates you. Fully understanding what it is that motivates you will help you get the courage that you need. You can use these motivating factors to help you zero in and stay focused during times of weakness.

Step Three-What Are the Consequences of Inaction?

In many situations, the consequences of not taking bold action are so unpleasant, especially over the long-haul, that you are left with no option other than to act. If you can’t imagine not taking bold action and changing the course of your life, then you should have all the motivation and thus all the courage you need. So don’t be afraid to think big. Then go ahead and plan meticulously to make the most out of your out of the box thinking.

Step Four-Great Planning Means More Courage

Courage is all about confidence. Do you want more confidence? Then plan and plan well. The more you have planned, the more confidence you will have!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis is the President/CEO of the Executive Women’s Success Institute (www.exwsi.com) in Maryland. She is a career strategist, speaker, trainer, consultant and the author of Finding Your Best Inside: How to Become the Person You Are Meant to Be and Playing from the Blue Tee: Women in the Federal Government. Reach her by e-mail at info@exwsi.com.