taking risks will change your life for the better

[Video] Why this woman crossing a shaky bridge should have you taking risks, too

Would you try walking across this bridge over churning sea waves? What do you think could go wrong? More importantly, can taking incremental risks, whatever those look like for you, be useful to your personal growth? I think taking risks will change your life for the better.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BYDlPwhlvSr/?taken-by=anna.setyowati

I saw this video approximately a year ago and I actually find myself thinking about it from time to time. Unlike other videos I’ve seen on social media, it made a big impact. I feel as if this woman walking over the wobbly bridge is an apt visual metaphor for the changes I often make in my life. Can you relate?

Weighing choices with pro and con lists and insightful questions

I consistently take time to research before making changes. I write down all of my questions and try to find answers to them. For example, if I am moving to a new place, I naturally have a lot of questions to answer.

  • Will this new place meet my needs?
  • How will this place affect my health?
  • Can I find work there?
  • Will this be a good next step in my life trajectory?
  • Could this move harm me in any way or make things unnecessarily difficult?

Once I’ve done some of that research, I create a list of pros and cons. Do the pros outweigh the cons?

I find this list method useful when I consider taking new jobs (LINK), or when considering any life change really.

I also want to think about how this change will benefit my general outlook.

  • Am I feeling stuck in a rut or unchallenged?
  • Will this move help me make positive changes?
  • Can these calculated risks benefit my life?

taking risks will change your life for the better

Being open to new possibilities can improve your quality of life

When I was living in Yogyakarta, Indonesia a few years back I was feeling poor and unsure about how to make money. I got involved with Couchsurfing, which was a good way to meet people from around the world. I hosted an American Couchsurfer named Carolyn. She recommended I teach English in South Korea, on an island named Jeju, where she lived. She showed me beautiful photos which convinced me that South Korea should be on my radar. Before that, it just hadn’t been.

So in 2012, I weighed my options and decided South Korea for a year or two might be a good way to make money, with a bit of adventure mixed in. Luckily enough, despite not being able to choose the place I’d be working, I ended up on the small, beautiful island Jeju, the very place Carolyn lived!

Although it took some time to adjust to a very new culture, and I got sick a lot, I also made great friends and learned about a whole new part of the world. Plus, when I left Korea I had enough money to live for more than a year in Indonesia and pursue my personal photography projects.

Back to that bridge in the video, again

Perhaps the young women in this video thought about some of these sorts of questions before she walked out onto the shaky bridge? If I were her, this would be my list:

  • Have other people walking along this bridge made it to the other end?
  • Is my body healthy enough to attempt this?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen?
  • How will I feel if I make it halfway across?
  • How will I feel if I make it to the other end?

 

She says in the photo caption:

“Woohoo! For me, someone who is truly scared of heights this was a true test of courage. The smallest misstep and it would be bye bye hahaha… This is a safe bridge but the sound of the waves beating the coral and the strong wind made my courage seem to evaporate [and made the task at hand harder].”

From her comment, it appears as if she weighed some of the risks. I am not sure if she asked all the same questions I would have, but obviously, she decided that she was confident enough to attempt to walk across the bridge.

She talks about it as a ‘courage test’ and posted a few photos and videos of herself crossing and returning back to land. I wonder if she felt triumphant when her feet landed on the earth again?

taking risks will change your life for the better

Photo by Edward Crompton

Try new things, while remaining perceptive about how they affect you

The question is, which risks are worth taking? Have you ever kept track of the calculated risks you take and noticed if they work out for you?

Although I thought I wouldn’t return to Jeju, in 2016, I started to consider it for a few reasons. One was that I wasn’t happy with my salary, despite really enjoying my job in Phoenix. I thought about saving money again in Jeju and did some research to make sure that would still be possible. The salary would be higher, but mostly I would be able to save money because my cost of living would be lower, and most jobs offered bonuses and flight reimbursement to entice teachers to finish out their year-long contracts.

Weighing the risks and benefits

I knew the air and water pollution had only grown worse in Jeju. Although I felt more healthy than I had when I left Jeju before, I had to consider whether it was worth risking my rather new-found respiratory health in search of a living wage. I did some research on respiratory health and wet climates.

After this research, I decided to go ahead with moving back to Jeju. I set out to try a few things in order to avoid getting sick again. I looked for an apartment without mold. I bought a fan to keep things dry. I got a lot of exercise, walking to work and usually took the bus. I invested in and wore face masks. I tried to get enough sleep.

So, I was aware of the risks but I did the research to see how I could avoid problems. Looking back, I was sick for a lot of the first 6 months; partially because I worked with kindergarten students, and partially because of the air quality. But I still felt like I had made an informed decision to return to Korea.

Risks are not without struggle or difficulty. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve made the wrong choice, especially when unlucky things come up. But normally, I assuage that feeling by remembering all the forecasting and research I’ve done to get to that place. There is no way to know how everything will unfold, after all, and I don’t think I’d want to. Most of all, I think my life would have been much less fulfilling if I hadn’t made some of these changes and taken some of these risks.

Something easy to add into your life

So, as I often do in this series, while talking about adding incremental risk into your life, I want to share a fun activity that you can either try for the first time or get reacquainted with from childhood. Rollerskating!!

When I was in elementary school, my favorite field trips were to the skating rink. Putting on those skates, moving my body at a high speed, chasing boys and having boys chase me. It was all exhilarating.

Plus, remember those pickle barrels. They actually had them at the skating rink we went to as kids. I don’t even remember if I ever got to try one, but I was fascinated by the concept.

Rollerskating is where it’s at

Rollerskating, much like crossing the bridge, takes a lot of balance and strength. Skating is good exercise! And, I for one, would love to get back into skating. I am just not sure where I can do it in Indonesia.

One idea if you live in the Phoenix area, and you identify as a woman, is to check out roller derby! Roller derby is competitive skating with teams and creative costumes. Think rugby on skates. There are roller derby groups in many places, so start searching where you live, if you think you’d be interested.

Here are two roller derby groups from Phoenix (this and this).

Also, while obsessing about all things rollerskating, I found this awesome video of people who are really accomplished movers. It looks like a great work out, and just plain old fun. Can you do this?

 

This short film about Slomo, the boardwalk skater, has been making the rounds on Facebook lately. He’s an older guy who gave up his fast-paced work life to focus on skating when he had an epiphany and his priorities changed. And sure, I recognize that he has the privilege of skating all day because he probably saved up a grip of money from his work. So that irony is not lost on me. Still, I enjoyed how something as simple as gliding on skates around the boardwalk is what makes him happy.

 

 

Do you believe me that taking risks will change your life for the better yet?

And more importantly, are you convinced to take up a life of skating? Or at least, to research where the closest rink or park is? This video is my closing argument.

 

 

Really, whether skating is your bag or not, assessing how you feel about life is important, to figure out how things can be tweaked. Just remember these three, useful assessment questions from before:

  • Am I feeling stuck in a rut or unchallenged?
  • Will this move help me make positive changes?
  • Will these calculated risks benefit my life?

 

Once you answer these questions honestly, you’ll be able to take next steps and find something new to challenge your perspective, begin something you’ve been wanting to try, and maybe you’ll even be ready to test your boundaries by doing something out of your comfort zone.

Recent articles in this series exploring making incremental changes in your life:

Photography as exploration and research, and a new free course

How Anthony Bourdain encouraged creating your own adventure