The fear of potential failure and the chills from imagining the uncertainty that comes with taking risks are more than enough to stop most people dead in their tracks. But what if you’ve got it all backward and taking risks isn’t just about a specific outcome?
Indeed, trying new things, taking unfamiliar paths, or taking risks don’t always result in success. However, when trying something new leads to failure, you learn, grow, and become better.
In this article, I explain why going outside your comfort zone can make you more resilient in coping with life’s ups and downs.
Why You Should Try New Things
Sticking to only what you are certain of or avoiding the unknown is extremely risky. In fact, playing it safe by not taking risks is the biggest unnecessary risk anyone can take!
Some of life’s greatest achievements and most rewarding experiences are a direct result of stepping outside our comfort zones, trying something new, and taking huge risks.
But failure isn’t exactly fun, so why should you risk it and face uncertainty? Here are a few reasons.
Taking Risks Encourages Growth
Trying something new, treading unfamiliar paths, or taking risks isn’t just about an outcome; it is about the process.
People who avoid risks because they don’t want to fail are so focused on the outcome of their undertaking that they lose sight of who and what they can become in the process of taking on challenges.
Unfortunately, avoidance behavior leads to missing out on opportunities for creativity and growth that comes with trying new things.
Additionally, risk-taking enables you to think on your feet, exploring multiple new ideas and possible solutions to whatever challenge you face.
A 2020 study found that those who take risks tend to be divergent thinkers ― curious, independent, and flexible thinkers who don’t merely think outside the box but have no “box” whatsoever. The research also associates risk-taking with fast learning and high performance.
While many would prefer to live stress-free and fear-free without risks and challenges, living that way presents no opportunities for personal growth. Besides, you would merely exist rather than truly live out your full potential. Now, that would bore you to death, don’t you agree?
Trying New Things Helps You Overcome Your Fear
What’s the best way to overcome your fears, avoiding or facing them? Facing them, of course!
With some serious efforts, you can avoid challenging situations, but that approach keeps you in continuous fear. Embrace the fear by taking action anyway. You will fail more than once ― that’s a given ― but the more you try to accomplish something, the more experience you gain doing it, and the better you become.
One of the biggest fears that newborns have is the fear of falling. But do you think that stops them from learning how to walk? Absolutely not!
Although little kids will fall and whack their heads countless times, the desire to walk is stronger than the fear of falling, which drives them to keep trying until they succeed.
Remember this analogy anytime your fears tend to cloud your rational mind and keep you from trying new things.
Trying New Things Enables You to Rewrite Your Story
Often, we are stuck with certain unhelpful beliefs and assumptions we picked up from childhood. We bought into these stories and allowed them to decide our behaviors and choices.
However, when you try new things, especially things you’ve come to believe are way out of your league, you counter those unhelpful stories that shaped your life so far.
Rewriting your story frees you to be, do, and have what you truly want. You can go after what you consider important without letting self-limiting thoughts hold you back.
Taking Risks Increases Adaptability
Truly successful people are those who’ve learned to adjust to new conditions, so they can thrive regardless of life’s ups and downs. This quality is known as adaptability, a skill that can be learned and developed.
Remember the previous analogy about little children learning to walk? Why do you think they cry less frequently after repeatedly falling for many weeks or months?
It’s simple: they adapt and grow more resilient, so they pick themselves right up each time they fall as if nothing happened.
That’s exactly what happens when you try new things, fail, and refuse to give up. You are adapting to the situation and increasing your resilience and grit.
Attempting New Things Boosts Your Confidence
You don’t only learn more about yourself and build resilience when you try new things; you also create a sense of accomplishment for yourself.
Even when things don’t go as planned, taking on a new challenge can be exhilarating. You prove to yourself that you are courageous, and this boosts your self-confidence.
But it gets better.
Attempting new things, learning a new skill, and increasing your confidence as a person spurs you to try other things ― to take on more challenges.
That’s because with improved self-confidence comes a thinking pattern that says, “If I can do this, I can do that, too!”
Failure Is Part of Success
Nearly everyone knows that in life, failure is inevitable. If this is true (and it is!), why do most people still struggle with the fear of failure? Why do we hold ourselves back from what we truly want for fear of rejection or to avoid embarrassing ourselves?
The answer is simple.
Most people don’t understand the purpose of failure. You’ve got it all wrong if you think failure is the opposite of success. It isn’t!
Failure is a necessary part of success; without it, success is just a fluke.
When you fully understand and accept this fact, your fear of failure disappears, and you can begin to do the things you truly want and live the life you desire.
With this realization, you will start to see failure as a stepping stone to success rather than a stumbling block. This is what Winston Churchill meant when he said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
Failure is part of growth, and its true purpose is to make you stronger and wiser. In other words, failure is a learning experience, and while it is not the most pleasant thing to go through, it helps you avoid pitfalls.
But here’s the thing, though.
Just because you understand that failure is part of success doesn’t mean you’ll not experience uneasiness when trying something new. It is normal to think, “What if I fail and embarrass myself in front of everyone?” “What if I invest and lose all my money?” “What if I get rejected because I’m not good enough?”
These thoughts are your mind’s way of protecting you from pain. The trick is to take a shot anyway, regardless of the fear of uncertainty. Remember, the point of taking risks isn’t necessarily the outcome but who you become in the process.
The next time you’re trying something new and your mind comes up with a million “what ifs,” take a deep breath and remind yourself that failure isn’t such a bad thing.
How to Build Resilience With Risk-Taking
While taking risks can help build resilience, rushing headlong into uncertainty can be catastrophic, and the nasty experience may prevent you from taking risks in the future.
To avoid getting burned by blind optimism, here are a few pointers for building resilience while trying something new.
- Take calculated risks: Taking risks is not the same as engaging in risky behaviors. Prepare and learn as much as you can before taking the leap. I’m not suggesting you drown yourself in extensive “research,” as that could lead to analysis paralysis. In a nutshell, know what you’re getting yourself into but don’t overthink it.
- Start with baby steps: Taking huge risks may yield the biggest rewards, but you don’t have to start with huge life changes. Cultivate the habit of taking small risks at a time to gradually increase your risk tolerance.
- Change our perspective about failure: Instead of defining success to only mean positive outcomes, learn from all outcomes, positive and negative, when you attempt new things. This way, you won’t beat yourself up for failure because you understand that failure is a sign that you are learning and growing.
Try Something New Today
Want to be more resilient than ever? Be open to new and challenging things. Your normal routines and regular activities are great and all, but the more you repeat familiar things, the fewer chances you get to expose yourself to real growth.
Pitch that new thing or idea, no matter how dumb and embarrassing you think failure will make you look. Pick up a new art form or musical instrument, talk to new people, or establish new connections. Start a new project, venture into a new business, or take up a new hobby; the list is endless!
The bottom line is never to allow the fear of failure to stop you from trying new things. Taking risks is the surest path to increased resilience and personal growth.