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You Have Less to Lose Than You Think
There are so many situations where you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Capitalise on these opportunities.
Note: skip to the callout/quote bits if you want to get the TL;DR.
When I was 13, I have no idea exactly how or when, but I stumbled onto this idea of having nothing to lose, and everything to gain. That philosophy has driven me to jump into a lot of things that have brought me to lots of genuinely incredible opportunities.
I had no money, and therefore couldn’t afford. Realising I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, I set out to build a business, because I couldn’t get a job, and that was the only other way I saw to make money.
Maybe not a month later I was making my first real-earned money. It didn’t quite get me to the US, but it made me keep that mindset. Over time, it drove me to jump into situations where I felt severely unqualified, but tried them anyway, and more often than not, ended up benefitting in ways I could never have imagined.
As a young person, you often have a lot less on the line, and so there is an abundance of these opportunities, where the downside is virtually zero, other than your time and effort, and the upside potential is vast. The truth is, though, these opportunities continue to exist for everybody, regardless of age or stage of life.
I think, however, that most people don’t pay enough attention to them, and just let them slip by. Things like exercising, journalling, producing content are good examples, but there are also often a lot more, which aren’t immediately obvious, but are personal cases in people’s lives. Granted, it’s not easy to do these things, and sometimes you may not necessarily want the rewards they may bring you, but nonetheless, I think it’s an important skill to learn to identify opportunities like these, especially if you’re somebody who’d like to capitalise on them.
Particularly for young people, I feel a lot of friends around my age at the moment operate as if they’ve got a lot to lose. They make heavily risk-averse-weighted decisions, as if they’ve got a lot to lose. Most of them don’t, in fact, have much to lose at all, and I think it’s incredibly worthwhile to spend some of your time investing in some kind of compounding vehicle, like content, or a business, and to spend your money with some freedom when investing in up-skilling yourself.
It’s a situation where the rewards vastly outweigh the relative risks, and if you’re somebody who enjoys getting those rewards, then that decision makes sense. Unfortunately, most people get caught up in their sheep-thinking, and feel uncomfortable making decisions for themselves that might not be what everybody else is doing.
A note to young people:
Have conviction in your thought process. Be radically open minded, to explore new ideas, but have conviction in your decisions, even if they go against conventional wisdom.
Identifying these situations is not exclusive to young people though– I’m not breaking new ground in saying that real risk is typically much lower than it’s perceived (we’re survival-biased, so we naturally overestimate risks, generally.)
If you more critically examine opportunities in front of you, I’d bet there are a handful of situations where rewards healthily outweigh the risks you face. When rewards outweigh risks, those are interesting decisions to explore. This is what the best investors spend their time doing: finding when rewards outweigh risks.
I believe it is better to know why you are making a decision, even if against convention, rather than not knowing why, but just going with everybody else.
If you don’t understand why you’re doing something, maybe reconsider direction.
This feeds into a larger thought-process of mine around why and how we make decisions. Since our lives are shaped by our decisions, I think it’s worthwhile to spend time thinking about how you make them, and also why you don’t make certain decisions. This article isn’t going into that, but just looking at one of the main decision-criteria: risk
(side note: I’m starting a podcast at the moment, and recorded my first episode yesterday, and I had a great little conversation about this with my guest. I also want to explore decision-making on that podcast, so this newsletter feeds in nicely. DM me to chat!)
Over-estimating risk is one of the most common reasons to exclude certain decisions from your options, and I personally find it foolish. Assessing risk is a healthy, and important habit, but public opinion should not count toward it. This was really just a reminder to think about that, and critically consider if you the risks you think exist are real or not, and what they’re stopping you from doing.
How to get what you want in 3 steps:
1. Decide to do something
2. Learn from your decision
3. Course-correct to get closer to what you want