People often ask too little from life because they are cautious. Their reasoning for this is the desire to stay safe. Caution can keep you from getting hurt. Being extra cautious is often stated as a reason to avoid something new. Caution can also be used as justification for being indecisive.
If caution is overly exercised, you will miss opportunities. Undue caution causes paralysis by analysis. In this syndrome, a person is so consumed with avoiding mistakes that they are unable to make any decision at all.
When used appropriately, caution plays a valid role in decision making. When misapplied, caution is used as an excuse for inaction. In order to succeed, it’s important to use caution wisely.
People are overly cautious when they consistently fear the worst. Caution must be balanced with reason to keep it from being a detriment.
The other end of the spectrum is being reckless. Reckless people don’t care about potential risks. They rarely plan for the future. The reckless individual acts as if they are not at all concerned about the consequences of their actions.
You want to use caution to your advantage. In order to do this, you have to perform a realistic risk / benefit analysis. Consider the worst case scenario, along with the chances of it occurring. Life is not risk free, but most of the situations we worry about never come to pass.
There is no way 100% safety can ever be guaranteed. Whenever you attempt something new, evaluate the potential benefits compared to the risks. Perhaps you are unhappy at your job. You would really like to work someplace else but are concerned you may not find another satisfactory position.
The overly cautious person wouldn’t bother looking for other employment. Their caution will cause them to stay where they are rather than risk something worse. A person who is realistic about the potential of a better job realizes that even if a new job doesn’t work out, there are many other opportunities for employment. They will look for something else instead of suffering.
Caution causes people to settle for less than they really want. They convince themselves circumstances could always be worse. Although this belief is technically true, it doesn’t lead to happiness and a high quality life.
Appropriate caution can also prevent you from squandering your future in favor of a short term, temporary gain. “I don’t know why I did that, I must not have been thinking,” is a statement you don’t want to be making. The carpenters saying, “measure twice, cut once,” contains much wisdom.
Reaching your goals always involves some degree of risk. However, the degree of risk is reduced by your preparation, determination, hard work, and positive attitude. Use caution to avoid needless risks which offer little or no reward. You also want to avoid risks where success is based on luck. Don’t let caution keep you from getting all you want from life.
NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper.
© Bryan Golden