worry and risk, risk and worry

I am a worrier. I was born that way and I spend a lot of time pondering what could and would go wrong. I am also a risk-taker, which might appear to be a contradiction. But for me taking risks is how God made me and I believe strongly that I should not leave anything undone when I die. I don’t want any regrets on my conscience when I am gone so I want to try and do all of the things I feel called to do. And then I worry, worry about the impact, worry it was not done as well as I could have done it and worry I did it too softly or too hard for the circumstance. It’s a perpetual cycle, take the risk, plan and worry, take that first step, worry some more, take the second step, more worry, finish what I planned, worry about how effective the effort will be, and assess the impact. That process is a constant in my life.

And when I am worrying and risk taking, all in the same moment, I am thinking of two things; no regrets and what will be the impact? I think these two thoughts are worthy of our consideration. I do believe when people are getting older, able to picture their own death, they consider their legacy, what they have done, what they have left undone. Have I really done those things I should have done? This is NOT to confused with those who worry they have not been more successful. That is a whole other matter. That is a worldly and ultimately unsatisfying concern. It’s a moving target, did I have as much as him and did I get as much as her. It goes nowhere. But worrying we have not done all that our conscience wanted us to do, that is something with a definite edge and we know whether the answer is yes or no.

I think if we are honest with ourselves we know what we have been called to do and what we have failed to do. Attending to those things can help make our death and thinking about our death less stressful. There is a sense of peace knowing you have done all you can, that you have taken the risks necessary to push forward on that which you were called to take action. Some people call these things a bucket list but I would suggest they are less optional than that. Bucket lists suggest a possibility, something we might like to try. Working through those things we feel we must do is not optional. That is why they eat at us until we either do them or let them go.

But there is always the process to consider, the HOW to do take the risk. And the HOW is important. The means to the end can make all the difference between being effective and not being effective. If you are going to take that scary leap forward surely you will want to do everything in your power to make that step count, to succeed in the risk you opted to take. Just jumping in on a risk and not planning it or considering the options available seems to be foolhardy. Worrying about the outcomes of our risk taking seems reasonable, even sensible.

I see no contradiction between taking risks and worrying. The former is what I will consider when this gift of life is gone and the latter is keeping me on my toes that I have made the right plan, in the right time, to be as effective with that risk as possible. Some call these means and ends. I call them worries and risks. The former keeps me up at night, the latter helps me sleep at night. If I have been bold and smart I will sleep well. Lots to think about.