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Should You Take That Risk at Work?

You can’t build a successful career without taking risks. However, sometimes it’s not in your best interest to take that particular leap. So, how can you weigh the pros and cons and make the right decision?
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Austin Neill/Unsplash

Taking professional risks can do wonders for your career. You’re unlikely to have any big breakthrough when you continuously play it safe. However, it’s called risk for a reason. Sometimes, these things don’t go the way you’d planned. So, it can be pretty tricky to decide what to do when contemplating such a move. Thankfully, there are some ways to decide whether or not to take that big risk at work.

Ask yourself these questions first:

Have you really thought this through?  

Risk-taking isn’t something you ought to do impulsively. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t act at all. It just means you ought to take your time.

First of all, be sure to let your emotions settle down before deciding how to proceed. You want to make this decision through logic and reason. So, take your time and think about what you’d like to do when you’re in the right state of mind. Then, really lay out the pros and cons of moving forward with the risky action. You may even want to do this on paper. Finally, sleep on your decision before actually moving forward.

Honoring these little checks and double-checks should stop you from making a move you’ll live to regret.

Are you breaking a rule … or A Norm?

Some processes and procedures are laid out in a certain way because that’s the norm. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the way things are meant to be done in every circumstance, no matter what.

For example, perhaps there’s a “rule” that you can’t apply for a certain job without the requisite experience. However, there are ways to get the job even when you’re technically under-qualified. You shouldn’t let conventions hold you back, especially when you have nothing to lose.

Weigh the risks and rewards associated with your decision before proceeding and be cautious. However, keep in mind that some rules are meant to be broken. And sometimes there is little to no consequence for giving something a try. Go for it when you find yourself in that kind of a situation.

Are you breaking a rule that ought to be broken?

Sometimes circumstances arise that make breaking the rules the exact right thing to do. Take, for example, the situation that Magdalena Yesil, a product design engineer, found herself in at work, according to a recent piece from Fast Company. More than once she was exposed to entertainment at work events involving topless women. Despite the fact that it breaks the rules to complain to the CEO (especially when you’ve never met him, which she hadn’t) she did so just the same.

Her behaviors may have broken several unwritten rules, but Yesil did the right thing. Her actions were justified because they were self-protective. She also encouraged the company to shift in a better direction.

Some rules really ought to be broken. If you find yourself in such a situation, you might decide that doing what’s right is worth the risk.

Is the timing right?   

Timing is something else that you ought to consider before taking a professional risk. Some circumstances and conditions are definitely better for this than others.

Make sure you’ve carefully considered your actions – that’s the first step in the timing equation. Once that is settled, pay attention to the other people who are involved in this scenario. How might your timing help or hurt their response? Finally, make sure that you are feeling positive and having a good day when you make your risky move. Having a confident and optimistic attitude never hurt anyone.

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