Nothing ventured, nothing gained…

With the A-grade came a big sigh of relief. In the last few weeks of this school year we saw it going in the right direction. But before that there was some doubt whether this would end well.

As a mom, I only want 1 thing: for my kids to be happy, healthy and successful, or that they at least feel like they are, whatever their definition of that might be. Passing your grade is something almost every child wants, unless you called it quits. My son knows which direction he wants to take. And it’s exactly this direction he’s being told not to take. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to assume that he won’t be making it easy on himself. He will have to work harder than he ever did before. But should that exclude the direction he so badly wants to take?

It’s a dilemma. Because like I said: I really want my kids to feel successful. And I wonder if stimulating risks is part of that. Shouldn’t I guard him from misfortune? But what is misfortune? Is it being safe and going for your second choice, or is it at least taking a serious chance at your first choice?

I see people in our coaching practice, on a daily basis, who regret they listened to the well-meant advice of parents, teachers, student counselors and it stopped them from pursuing their dream. There’s this woman who went to vocational school and is now going back to school to become a medical secretary. Or that other heroine who will soon be opening up a restaurant. Or that other one who’s going to go to nursery school. Or my own mother at the time, who because she was a girl, was discouraged from going into science, because becoming a teacher was enough for a woman. They all chose the safe option, the ‘take no risks – road’. And they all ended up regretting it.

If I would have made the safe choice…
When in 2009 I decided that I lacked talent to work for bosses and I wanted to start working for myself it was more often discouraged than supported. Shouldn’t I wait for a better economical climate? Shouldn’t I go for a third child first and take parental leave. Shouldn’t I wait till I was 40? Shouldn’t I find a part-time job and start working for myself next to that first? The list of safe suggestions was endless. I ignored them all. I didn’t want a third child, I didn’t want to work part-time because it took 100% of my energy either way, I didn’t want to wait for a better climate if I would have done that, I’m not sure if I ever would have started. It had to be now and I really wanted it. And I knew I could fail but I believed that I could just as well succeed and at least be able to get a decent income out of it.

What do you need to succeed?
So I advised my son to think about what he would regret most: making the safe choice and spending the rest of your life wondering what he could have been, or going for what he wants and doing his absolute best to do it well. Prove that they have underestimated you. He’s thinking while I’m writing this. But I’m secretly hoping he’ll chose the ‘path of no regrets’. Even though that means he will have to work harder than he ever did before. In the meantime I want him to think about what exactly it is he did the last few weeks of the school year that made such a difference in his results and what he’ll definitely has to do more of next school year. Find what works and do more of it. You can try to exclude risks, but you can also figure out what is needed to succeed and discipline yourself to do it. Because you really want something.

What is it worth to you?
There’s an entire range between unsafe and very careful. What is really at stake here? And imagine that disaster would strike, would it really be that bad? What is it worth to you to take a chance? He gets a bit nervous over ‘what if I don’t succeed’. But honestly nothing could go really wrong at this point. Just like when I became self-employed: if I couldn’t find work I could always find another job. Sometimes it comes with a price. Like many people we work with that are stuck in golden cages. If you’re not willing to consider making sacrifices, then there’s only one option, stay where you are. If you stick to the idea that you can’t take risks because you have a mortgage to pay, then you’re left with little room for experiment. There are plenty of people who manage to pay their mortgage and still change jobs or start their own business. It’s possible, it has been done before.

If you want to change jobs, start your own business or go back to school, no one can predict if you’d be successful. If I could do that for starting entrepreneurs I would be living in the Bahama’s right now. But for now I’m still living in Leuven.


Do you play it safe and it’s not making you happy? Come talk to us and let’s figure out your options. Career coaching makes it clear and provides you with a clear base for making real decisions.

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