Why don’t we keep taking risk in life? Why is it as we age we get more complacent and less likely to take career, relationship, and life risks? I’ve been faced with this very issue as I move forward in my ‘new’ life as a professional speaker. It has been hard to push through my resistance to change, to take on new ideals, and put myself in the limelight of life again. But if I don’t take risk and reach, what would I miss?
Last night at a party, I was part of a conversation with a young woman who was talking about her experience with Toastmasters. At the age of 19 (she is currently 29) she was remarking how she, on her first day of Toastmasters, was asked to do an impromptu speech and ended up winning the prize for best speech that night. She couldn’t understand why she went into panic mode doing a speech in front of an audience, when at 19, with no experience whatsoever, she was able to get up and perform without fear. The answer she received from a wise friend a decade older than her made perfect sense. He said, “You didn’t know about consequences at 19!”
That got me really thinking… At 23, the age I was when I entered the fire department, I had no idea of the consequences of joining a predominantly male occupation with little to no experience with women. At the time, it didn’t feel like a risk. It felt more like an adventure and I was along for the ride. So now, almost 50, and embarking on a ‘new’ adventure, why am I so hesitant? My friend’s observation hit it on the nail; I now know the consequences of leaping into the deep end of the pool and then learning how to swim…
What seemed so easy at age 23 now seems like a huge leap, at times, as I near 50. Now, in all reality, I know my life has drastically changed, in fact, older and wiser, I will avoid some major pitfalls because I have a better sense of direction than I did in my earlier age. What I suffer from now is an avoidance of and reaction to, sore muscles. Just like getting back into a physical fitness routine can be painful at first, after a week or two of working out under your belt, you begin to ask yourself, “Why did I quit in the first place? I feel so good now!” The same holds true with a new direction in life.
I had forgotten the muscles I had to use to build my last career as a firefighter but they are slowly coming back. See, the same muscles (or structure I used) to build myself from firefighter to battalion chief are the same muscles (structures) I need to build myself up to become a professional speaker. I may have more aches and pains, but I also know better what works, how to use good form, and the benefit of consistency~ all good traits to achieving a great routine such as swimming. See, now I know how to swim. It’s not really a greater risk, just a new pond!
So, what are you waiting for? Where can you take on more risk, try something new, work on a new passion? We are never too old or too tired, we may just be suffering from a chronic case of ‘consequences’! Start working those atrophied muscles and get into a routine that gets you off the couch and into the game of life. And if you are scared- take a swim lesson or two for refresher. Work on your dolphin kick or freestyle stroke. That open water is waiting. Once you get started that muscle memory starts kicking in and you remember why you liked it so much the first time… Dive on in the water temperature is great and you’ll love the workout!
Wisdom from a Firegal…
Gina Geldbach-Hall, Owner
Firegal Enterprises, LLC