List Makers and Risk Takers

In the following article, Hannah discusses risk, being a right-brained list-maker, and shares thoughts to consider before saying “yes” to opportunities.

I am a list-maker just as much as I am a risk-taker, and like certainty almost as much as I love adventure.  Sometimes this can be an incredibly hard thing to balance.  When do I know when to take an opportunity?  When do I know to say “no” or wait?  I am a big believer in the idea that it is incredibly hard (more like impossible) to get in the way of God.  But, it is incredibly easy to get in the way of ourselves.  We trip on our own feet, get in our own way, and are responsible for many skinned knees.  Yet despite this, it is important to take risks.  Risks are full of costs and benefits, and many times the benefits of a risk far outweigh the costs.  Risk is also full of grace when we fail.  God gives us incredible freedom to try new things, to learn and to grow alongside Him.

However- as important and wonderful it is to take good risks- the list-maker, certainty part of me wonders, how can I know if a risk is good?  How can I know that it is the right time and place to say “yes” to an opportunity?

This right-brain, left-brain balance is important.

I find it especially important to pay attention to the list-maker side of me now and then, because I lean so heavily toward being right-brained.  My mind needs left-brained organization, or my life would be chaos.  Lots of ambition and vision, but little tangible progress.  Ideas, and no output.  I identify with the big-picture and not details.

Recently, a guy friend of mine posed a question.  He asked, what does it mean that we must seize God-given opportunities?  He noted that it is difficult to be able to recognize opportunities and distinguish between the ones beneficial to ourselves and others as opposed to those are are not.  His question was timely, as it has been something that I have been thinking about as well, especially while reading books such as John Maxwell’s Put Your Dream to the Test, and Jon Acuff’s Quitter.  These and other books and blog posts have been giving me food for thought about identifying and accepting positive opportunities.  For example, I have come to recognize that the word “opportunity” more often than not functions as synonymous with “risk”.  Most opportunities include an element of risk.  The question then becomes, when do I take a risk?

In seeking answers to this question, the list-taking side of me steps in.  I want to identify, not in a legalistic but a meaningful way, how we can be more certain that an opportunity is a risk worth running after.    This list was compiled as a result, a few of the questions pulled from things I have read, and most of them my own.  Please note that the list is more of a collection of things to think about than a checklist, made to help you organize your thoughts (perhaps messy and right-brained like my own).  I hope you enjoy reading!

Should I take this risk?

  1. Does the opportunity violate your values (Biblical values for Christians) or compromise your personal integrity?
  2. Is the opportunity consistent with your objectives?  Unless you are being redirected, does it further your life purposes?
  3. Have spiritual or academic counselors and mentors affirmed or suggested the opportunity, or has their counsel been sought out in regards to this opportunity?
  4. Does the opportunity detract from your physical, mental, spiritual or emotional health in any negative fashion?  If so, can this be fixed before taking on something new?
  5. Does it include obstacles that will challenge you versus be destructive to you?
  6. Does the opportunity further versus detract from your ultimate and current goals?
  7. Are the underlying ambitions behind accepting the opportunity positive versus negative?
  8. Is the opportunity something that you desire to take on, and is that level of passion sustainable?
  9. Does the opportunity interfere with your most important or urgent priorities?
  10. Have you done the math in regards to the work and energy that the opportunity will require?
  11. Will the opportunity allow you to continue to fulfill basic survival needs?
  12. Individual actions form patterns- movement- in specific directions.  Thus, consider: is the opportunity a part of a pattern or movement that you want to follow?
  13. The opportunity may be “good”, but is it a “good” that is personally attractive to you, and that aligns with what you ultimately want?
  14. Will the opportunity injure or endanger those around you that are most important to you?
  15. Do you have the resources or the means to get the resources in order to be able to participate in the opportunity?
  16. Are you willing to make sacrifices or experience pain or stress in order for the opportunity to be possible or successful?
  17. Is the opportunity profitable?  Does it have meaning, or is it relatively meaningless to you?
  18. Does the opportunity fit with your current age, experience and living circumstances?
  19. You may be a good fit for an opportunity, but are you willing to help others through the opportunity and to make a contribution toward its success and others, instead of just receive benefits from its success and the skills of others?
  20. Will you experience regrets if you take this opportunity?  What about if you don’t?
  21. Is the timing of the opportunity something that will harm or help you?
  22. Are you part of or have you sought out a supportive and encouraging team in regards to this opportunity?
  23. Perhaps most importantly, is this something that you have approached God about in prayer?

To find out more about Hannah K., visit our writer’s page.

Art Credit: Pinterest

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