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Living a good story means risk

As you start this week, may you jump off that cliff into the water and the unknown.

I podcasted with my friend Stephanie from Melbourne, Australia earlier last week, and then when we hung up I read her recent post about worldschooling. Later that evening, I cracked open Walden, Thoreau’s account about his two-year gig as a 19th century nonconformist.

And then I had to go and see Walter Mitty on date night with Kyle, which pretty much sealed the deal for me that this was the message I am to receive right now: risk, risk, risk. Risk is good. Risk means taking a chance, but on the off-chance you’ll succeed. (Even if it means you might fail.)

When I think about the stories I love, they’re usually about the protagonist moving from fear to freedom by way of stepping a bit into the unknown, when they finally decided the risk was worth it. It might mean choosing looking stupid, or being wrong, or falling flat on their face—but then they dust themselves off and risk again.

Life shrinks or expands  in proportion  to one’s courage.  –Anais Nin
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” –Anais Nin

What kind of risk do you need to take right now? Like, this week? Just like there’s never a perfect time to have kids, your ducks will never be lined up enough to warrant a perfect scenario for risk-taking. That’s what risk-taking is, in fact—looking at the odds and doing it anyway.

So whatever you’re contemplating right now… if it’s a risk, and it’s worth doing, then don’t delay. Go for it. Living unconventionally means swimming upstream, so don’t let a majority rule determine your decision. Do what’s best for you, whether that’s saying no to more stuff, yes to a big move, sure to a coffee date, or not right now to a request that’s just not right.

You can do it. We’ll all be right here, cheering you on.

What are you risking this week?

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  1. Angela Mills

    I am taking a big risk, finally finishing my novel up and going to a writer’s conference this year. Leaving my family for the first time, and taking time away sometimes to write has been outside my comfort zone, but my kids are 10 and 17 now, so it’s a good time. It feels risky to me, risking rejection and failure. But I’m doing it!

  2. Jennifer

    Our family is taking a risk this year by “hosting” a 25-year-old girl from Tanzania in our home for 6 months. She’s doing an internship at the kids school and working at our church. She’s only been with us a week, but it feels like a year and she’s just fit in so well. I was terrified of the whole idea when our friends, who are missionaries in Tanzania, asked if we’d host her – part of their overall plan was to show her life in a Christian family. We’re such sinners I thought “how can she possibly learn anything from us?” Grace, perhaps?

  3. Tiffany

    I’m going back to work and I’ve also applied for school! On top of family, this seems like a huge undertaking. I’ve watched a lot of great women do this so I know it can be done. I just don’t want to lose my momentum or reason myself out of doing these things.

  4. Franziska

    My risk for this week seems rather small… Always look at the bright side. Expect the best. Find joy in everything. And stop looking for what could go wrong or disappoint. This sounds actually very risky to me…

  5. Robin from Frugal Family Times

    The risk I’d like to start taking is with friendship. My life is full with people I like and that I’d love to know better, but taking the risk of moving the friendship further frightens me a bit. I would love to push outside of my comfort zone to invite new friends into my life. Such a challenge for this introvert!

  6. Rainya Mosher

    I am going to South Korea for a speaking engagement in the Spring. I’ve never been to Asia and the last time I left the country it was with a bunch of college students and professors to Europe. Saying yes was fraught with risk, but the story will be so amazing. I also took a risk and said no to a previous commitment when it became clear that it was damaging my wellness and balance and I couldn’t make it work. Rather than continue to borrow time and energy from other parts of my life (that I could never properly pay back) and I leveled with the other people involved and they understood and allowed me to leave gracefully without guilt. My word for 2014 is ADVENTURE and with adventure inevitably comes risk.

    I saw Walter Mitty right before traveling to Seattle from Texas for a job interview that was scaring me silly because of the unknown risk involved of change and a possible move. My main take away from the movie is if the choice is to jump on the helicopter or stay in the bar, choose to jump on the helicopter.

  7. Michelle Burant Epp

    I just quit a very comfortable job, with excellent compensation, for a new job with more stress and longer hours, but with more professional growth opportunity. I’ve been wondering if I made the best decision as I’m NOT a risk taker. Ever. Your post really spoke to me. Thanks! 😉

  8. Elizabeth

    I’m risking the “good enough.” Too often I let the perfect be the enemy of the good and it robs me of the moment I could have had if I could just let go. Great thoughts on this today. I really like your risk motto this year.

  9. Kendra

    My risk is to cancel an engagement – a conference I was to participate in two months from now. Sometimes taking a risk means stepping back from responsibilities and commitments. Instead, I’m going to spend some time at my childhood home, reconnecting with who I am and what matters.

  10. Shelly

    Yesterday I was just discussing moving from Pennsylvania to Louisiana with my husband. That would be a huge risk, considering that we don’t know anyone there, and my husband would have to quit his job of ten years. I’m not sure if it will happen, but warmer weather and easier homeschool regulations sound good to me!

  11. Katie May

    I am taking a big risk this week by “flying solo” in taking care of my two little boys (2 and 3 y.o.) while also growing another human being inside me, so that my husband can take a team of doctors to the Middle East to care for Syrian refugees. My risk makes his risk possible.

  12. Jenn

    I used to be really good at risk taking! We adopted an eight year old when I was 22 and my husband was 23 and we have spent the last five years fostering. But now that we have three kiddos it seems harder to take risks. I’m going to give this some serious thought because I know you’re right! You can’t grow without risking something.

  13. Amy Simpkins

    I needed this today. I’m about to launch two entrepreneurial ventures in hopes of being able to leave my corporate job within a year. I’m so excited about both of them, and I’ve laid so many plans and so much foundation work… But now I’m to the point where I actually have to tell other people about my stuff and I’m TERRIFIED. I need to do it. Let it fly. Release it into the wind.


  14. Jessica

    I love that quote by Anais Nin. I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately as I try to live with an open heart and work out which direction life is taking us. A couple of years back our dreams were shattered when we could no longer take our family overseas. Where did we go from there? Years of planning was just gone. I felt lost and bereaved for a long time, but we’re now in a place where we’re dreaming again, planning adventures and ready to take risks! Your words have encouraged me to have the courage to follow through.

  15. Betsy Campbell

    The risk I’m taking is doing a total makeover with my writing/blog. Long ago someone close to me suggested I write children’s books because, “Getting published is hard…” Since then every time someone said I’d be good at writing children’s books I balked. I’ve realized that’s where God’s been leading me all along, but I dismissed Him because of one stupid comment. Read about it at Now both feet are fully in! The first manuscript is ready

  16. Kamille@Redeeming_table

    Tsh–I am feeling this very Benediction in my bones of late. I think in this week alone, I’m learning to take a risk to not fear the unknown with V. I’m learning that knowing more of what is happening within her body is not a “death sentence” that I often paint it as; rather, it’s an opportunity to know her, to love her and to know how we as a family can operate in peace. Big stuff happening–I can feel it. I’m so thrilled for the timing of your book to release with your family’s big worldschool adventure:)


  17. another jennifer

    Great quote. I do tend to find the most happiness and fulfillment when I take risks. You just never know what you can do until you take risks.

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