If you think trying is risky, wait until they hand you the bill for not trying.
– Jim Rohn
Adventure or safety?
It’s one of the big questions in life. Do we seek out new experiences, or do we try to make today like yesterday and tomorrow like today?
We all lean one way or the other (my gut instinct is to cling to safety), but the best part is that we’re not stuck with our gut instinct. We get to decide what our philosophy will be. Hooray for free will!
[I’m probably tipping my hand here. I’m for adventure, if you couldn’t tell. Hear, hear!]
It’s tempting to go with safety, I admit. It just sounds so . . . well, safe. Psychology and economics have shown over and over that our fear of losing what we already have is stronger than our desire to gain new ground.
There’s only one problem: there’s really no such thing as total safety.
Risk Is Everywhere
If we interact with the world at all, we’re exposing ourselves to risk. Driving to work involves risk, and so does jogging to stay in shape. Recommending a book to someone is risky. What if they hate it and judge us? Going on a date? Super risky.
Musicians are no strangers to risk, right? Performing is loaded with it. What if the audience doesn’t like our playing? Wait, check that. What happens when they don’t like our playing (because some of them won’t)?
Taking a risk and failing isn’t much fun. In fact, I can imagine one thing worse: coming to the end of my life and finding that the risks I avoided have come home to roost and morphed into an even worse r-word:
Safety Isn’t So Safe
Seeking a life of safety feels like the wise thing to do. The downside of seeking adventure is risk, which means occasional failure. And failure doesn’t feel good.
The problem is, habitually choosing safety has a downside, too, and that’s regret. Since we won’t feel regret until much later, though, we give it less weight during decision-making. This is called temporal discounting, and it’s totally a thing.
What I’m trying to convince you (and myself) to do is to remember this when choosing between adventure and safety:
With adventure, we risk failure. With safety, we risk regret.
It’s all risky. Choose adventure.