Whatever reservations you’ve had when a choice is in front of you, dive right in. Think about it, sure, but don’t over-think it. Some of the best choices you’ll ever make are those that you make somewhat blindly. If an opportunity presents itself in front of you, and you have no goals that actively contradict the chance you’re looking at, go for it.
Daring to take a risk is what sets successful people apart, I’m convinced of that now. Diving right in doesn’t necessarily entail moving forward blindly. If you set goals and they inspire you to take even bigger risks when those opportunities knock, you usually won’t regret the decision to have done so.
One of the best decisions of my life, joining the military, presented itself in front of me at the right time in the form of a Marine recruiter knocking on my door. I had never thought about it before and was just living my life after graduation. Alas, flat feet kept me from enlisting in the Marine Corps, but my name was given to the Navy recruiter, and, after several trips to MEPS, I was in.
As Jamie pointed out in an earlier article here, “Each opportunity only knocks once.” I’d like to expand on that by saying that certain opportunities, if turned down the first time, will reappear in your life. I have had this happen a few times and it really made me stop to wonder what I was doing. Did I make the right choice way back when I turned this opportunity down the first time?
I was told early on in my short Navy career that I ought to look into taking courses toward a college degree. Those career counselors had looked over my goals and suggested, on several occasions, that I pursue a degree. They wanted to see me at least start the process. I failed to do so as months and, finally, years passed. About one year before I was to get out, I made the final decision to just wait to go to school until my enlistment was up. I regret that decision to wait.
So, the day came when my enlistment was up and I got out. I procrastinated with my goals as life got in the way of my dreams for the next four years.
Sometimes, it’s not an opportunity that keeps knocking, but an idea, a desire that just won’t go away even after years of focusing on the more every-day goals. Let’s call this ambition. Sooner or later, an opportunity will come for that too, but it will often look like risk.
This happened about four years after I got out of the Navy. I had a goal in the back of my mind, due to my love for technology, to work with computers for the rest of my life. One day, I was told that I should take advantage of the fact that my employer at the time paid half of my college tuition, a lot like when the Navy offered the same benefit. The same opportunity knocked again.
I did it. I dove right in and got an Associate’s degree in IT and now work at the same college in their IT Department. The desire to work in the IT field brought, full-circle, the need to get an education and gain some experience.
You should take the opportunities, even if you think there is risk. Your goals may change but at least you have the foundation to build on. Clarity comes with these difficult decisions, as well. You might find that your goals change drastically with each new opportunity you take. That’s part of life, and recognizing it early is key to your success and happiness.
We’ve all experienced disappointment with the choices we’ve made in our lives, but with a little forethought and planning, we can take risks that will be truly rewarding in the end. Sometimes, it’s worth the risk. Some people have told me their true ambitions in life, and I always ask them why they don’t just do it. Invariably, the responses always have something to do with time, money, or no confidence (or, as I like to think of it – being scared of change).
Identify your ambition when the time is right and the opportunity is finally in front of you, then set a few short- and long-term goals and keep track of your progress. Don’t let yourself slip. Goals are plans for your future and the truth behind a set goal is that it will make taking risks in the future so much easier.
My true goal in life is to be a successful, full-time writer. That has been my goal since high school. I was always unsure how to proceed or didn’t want to change what felt comfortable and routine in my life. Approaching 40 years old, I’m now finally ready to dive right in. I write as much as I can. Whether I do anything with the finished product doesn’t matter right now.
As for me, I can’t wait to publish my first novel when the time comes. I know there will be criticism but I’m ready for that. With any success comes a lot of disappointment along the way. It’s what makes it all worth it. Things that come easy in life are usually unfulfilling and void of the pride you will feel after taking an opportunity and running with it.
What risks have you taken to follow your dreams or help others to reach theirs?
Are there opportunities you missed that you wish would revisit your life?
Mark David McClure was born and raised in Bay City, Michigan. He began writing in high school when he wrote an elegy for his father’s funeral. He has been an avid reader, soaking in the plethora of worlds found in the works of Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King, Bev Vincent, Stephen J. Spignesi, Brian James Freeman, Sue Grafton, Joseph Payne Brennan and many others. His favorite genre is horror, but he finds himself indulging in an occasional mystery.
After serving in the U.S. Navy, aboard the USS Constellation, Mark went to college for an Associate’s in Information Technology and a Baccalaureate in Business Administration. He now works in the Information Technology department at the same school he earned both degrees.
Mark has a lot to offer and can’t wait to bring to the masses the enduring literature he has written and is yet to write. Supporting him in this undertaking are his wife and daughter. They have been the sounding board for his work for some time. His first published short story, Dear Diary, can be found here.
Thankful for the many opportunities in life, Mark wants to share what he has learned in life and what he hopes to learn, as life is an ever-expanding universe within.