You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
Life is about taking risks. We hear that a lot, usually from people that have achieved some level of success doing such. But not all risks are equal. Should I go running into traffic because there is risk there? Uh no. So the nature of the risk is very important. Alright then, I will quit school and go chase my dreams by joining the circus? Uh probably not. It's always better to have a back-up plan or base to fall back on in case it doesn't go so well. Maybe you are allergic to elephant dung, who knows?!
Then what is the answer to risk taking? For far too many, life settles in to a happy (or sad) little routine of sleep, work, TV, sleep and eventually weekend. Perhaps there is a dream or pursuit you've always wished you had tried but just didn't. The current of Life's stream can be very powerful and sweep you years down stream before you know it. So standing up in that stream and swimming where you want to go is "risky." Ah, now we're getting somewhere. But which way to swim? And how far? That is a very important question. As one who has attempted to swim an entire lake because it didn't look THAT far, I will tell you knowing your limitations is good. It also may help to strap on a life preserver. Sound like we've got the makings of a list. Let's go with that:
1. Determine which way to swim (your passion and desire):
Make sure this is something YOU want, not what someone else may want for you. It must be a pursuit you are willing to do everyday, even when you are worn out to succeed in. Nothing is so powerful as the will to succeed. We know that is true in the world of sports and it is true for you as well.
2. Determine how far you can swim (your own limitations):
This part is tricky. In part because most of us have a blind spot in ourselves. Seek advise from those you trust and those in that area of interest. Present it sincerely and listen to negative feedback but do not be discouraged. Write down all the advise you receive, including your own opinions and read it to your trusted council and those you would be affected by the decision. You should be able to determine your aptitude and abilities for success. It is a tough lessen for many. I absolutely LOVED basketball as a young teen and played it every single day. But as a 5'9" white kid who couldn't jump that high, I had to accept that my future in the NBA was pretty unlikely. Part of the taking risks process is emotional as well, and mourning failure is just as important as celebrating success.
3. Put on a life jacket (make a back-up plan/safety net)
One of the biggest reasons education is so important is because it gives you a base to bounce off of if you fall. I know so many people who went to school for something completely different that what they actually do for a living. But it's a nice item to have in the back pocket in case you decide to change directions. In addition to having an education, acquiring more education is also important. You are never too old to learn something new, despite what talking dogs will tell you. Just like when you jump out of an airplane, having an extra chute packed isn't a bad idea, but maybe let a professional pack that one. Ask for help, seek knowledge and humble yourself to the process. If it were so easy that you could just jump up and become what you desire, you probably wouldn't still be reading this!
4. Don't be afraid (believe in yourself):
As previously stated, you are TAKING A RISK. That is not designed to be easy. NOT taking a risk would be easy. So know that the path you are choosing is more difficult. Stay grounded in your successes and your failures. Just like in baseball, if you go to pieces after losing on Opening Day, it's going to be a long summer for you and your fans. Embrace the grind of your passion, because 99.99% of the time, that's what your passion is. You think Tiger just shows up on Thursdays, pulls his clubs out of the trunk (of his plane) and plays? No! He puts in hours and hours of time on the practice green to be the best in the world. The synergy of (athletic) talent and mental determination is what leads to his success. Take out the parentheses and it can lead to all of us succeeding. So embrace the fear, the unknown and the toil of it all. That is what makes it exciting and ultimately truly rewarding.
5. Accept the consequences of choice
I feel this might be the most important element of this whole thing. If you go through the steps above and decide to take a risk in life, good for you. But also, know that every choice you make has a consequence. Some may be know and some not. But there will undoubtedly be one or more. So in order to succeed, you must accept the possibility of failure. And don't make choices for anyone else! I can't stress that enough. If you go out an invest your kids college fund or food allowance in a flying pizza-maker without consulting them, you have made a choice for them. That's not fair. If you decide to go back to school to pursue a degree, consult with those affected. Maybe you won't be able to spend as much time with your family. Weigh that cost in your mind and then let them weigh it in there's as well. It's very important. In the sports world, many new General Mangers in football take a risk on a new quarterback after the last GM was fired for drafting a QB who didn't pan out. That is a big risk and the consequences will be being fired. You must know that going in and do the due diligence necessary to make the best choice you can. You may succeed of fail but you will have tried. And probably become a better person for it.
Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else.