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Taking Risks For The Courageously Impaired

Risk.

It pretty much sucks for everyone, but it’s also necessary. It was a risk to climb out of the trees and start the whole “walking” craze among our species (later superseded by the current “reclining” phase of civilization). It was a risk to try and shoot rockets full of humans, chimpanzees and dogs into space but now we have Tang and memory foam mattresses. It was also a risk to combine chocolate and peanut butter, but we all know how necessary that was for the continuation of humanity.

So risk is pretty necessary to do stuff, but it’s hard. Especially for shy people who see risk not as an inherent necessity which provides us a chance to obtain greater success and even coveted experience. No, we see risk as a huge, gaping Kraken, ready to swallow us down into a painful oblivion.

Image courtesy of www.imdb.com

But shy people deserve to timidly pursue their dreams too! I recently did this when I ePublished my first novel, Falling – Girl With Broken Wings. It was really scary, but I did it. So that means I get to laud it over everyone in the guise of sage advice. Go me.

So, because I believe in shy people and our ability to eventually muster up the courage to kinda, sorta, maybe tomorrow do great things, I’ve created a guide for shy people to follow based on my own experience. Enjoy.

A Guide To Taking Risks For The Courageously Impaired

 

Step One – Freak the Hell Out of Yourself

I don’t know what specific risk you want to take, but I bet it’s scary as hell.

 Your Risk = This

Maybe you want to ask a pretty girl out for a date, walk out on your job, finally tell your roommate that it’s his god damn turn to wash the dishes, start your own business, eat ice cream for dinner, wear your beloved Crocs in public, or get a huge tattoo of Jesus on your face. All great goals, but for the sake clarity, I’m going to assume that you want to publish your quirky paranormal adventure novel.

So you’ve got a novel you want to publish, but you’re scared. Immediately your mind is filled with exactly everything that will go wrong. The book will suck. It will get a particularly terrible and hurtful review on Amazon…from your mother… who will publicly disown you on the same review.

“I disown you”

All your Facebook friends will immediately unfriend you, turning you into a Facebook untouchable. You’ll immediately be fired, and when you will try to collect welfare, the welfare staff will tell you they’ve used all your welfare money to pay for their therapy bills after having read your book.

Oh, and your book will be so bad that the US government will consider you a terrorist to good taste. You’ll be secretly kidnapped by the CIA, held unlawfully in some former Soviet Bloc country and water boarded mercilessly until you swear never to touch a keyboard again.

It’s okay to freak the hell out. You’re a shy person. This is basically what you do. If you could monetize freaking the hell out, you would be a very wealthy person.

But at some point, you’ve got to pull yourself together, take a deep breath and follow me into step two.

Step Two: Take An Insanely Long Amount Of Time Just Thinking About The Risk

 

Hmmmm, maybe I should…

Alright, I’ll do it!

To shy people, time is like succor of the gods. We may take years to mention to the guy we’ve been drooling over that, “hey, I like your…er….socks. They’re white. I like white things. Bye now.”

So, it’s only natural that when a risk is in the process of being taken, shy people spend a good and long amount of time considering it.

Most people may only need to think about taking a risk for a couple seconds, maybe an hour or so, or even a couple of weeks. For shy people, take what you think the normal consideration time is and then multiple it by a factor of 100.

Step Three: Over Plan The Hell Out Of The Risk

Of course, after a good ten years of consideration, you’ll need to start making arrangements to take the risk. This is a particularly terrifying stage of the risk-taking process, because every arrangement you make brings you closer to actually taking the risk, which, being a shy person, is really about the last thing you want to do.

I have developed a brilliant strategy for preparing yourself for the risk.

Over plan.

Over plan like you’ve never over planned before. Make like over planning was an Olympic sport and you want that gold medal more than anything in the world.

 On Your Mark…Get Set…PLAN!

Shy people absolutely love to plan, because it means we don’t actually have to do anything. The less importance the particular aspect we’re planning, the better. For instance, it is absolute heaven to spend an entire day searching for book review blogs or to put together timelines, or sketch out cover image ideas.

Charts are your friends. Make them. Lots of them. Find sweet bliss in pointless preparation.

 

Actual image of my book blogging chart. Isn’t it pretty?

You know how some savvy parents get their kids to eat vegetables by sneaking them into things kids enjoy, like  ice cream, Lucky Charms, and paste? That’s what you’re doing to yourself. See, while you gleefully decide what font to use in your website map, you’re actually inching closer to taking the risk.

One day you’ll wake up and realize – what the f@$k! I have all the stuff I need in order to ePublish my book. I even created a timeline that says I have to publish today, and I can’t back out, because my website is launching and I’ve already written my Facebook announcement. How did this happen? Who did this to me?

WHHHHHHHHY GOD, WHHHHHHHY!

Step Four: Give Yourself a Deadline

Freaking the hell out of yourself, taking a couple of years to think about the risk you want to take, and over-planning like your life depended on it are all well and good, but eventually you will actually have to take the risk.

Whoa, not right now!

Settle down. Here, tuck your head between your legs. Breathe into the bag. That’s it. Nice and slow.

What I meant was, as part of your planning process, you need to give yourself a deadline to actually take your risk. Create a really nice and fancy timeline with specific dates on it.

Now, disassociate yourself with the timeline. Force yourself to forget that you created the timeline and instead, consider it a sentient entity that must be followed or horrible things will happen. Things like shortages of peanut butter and chocolate, or every single one of your friends instantly getting pregnant and inviting you to their baby showers.

 

Go ahead, schedule your risk for several months or even a year into the future. I don’t care how long you need as long as you stick to it.

It helps to break your project into lots of little steps so it’s not like one huge leap into the jaws of the Kraken.

Step Five: Vulcan Mind Meld Yourself

Okay, it’s time to take the risk. I give you full permission to do whatever mental mind voodoo you deem necessary to force yourself to take action. This may include convincing yourself that the zombie apocalypse will happen tomorrow so there will soon be no society to judge what you’ve done or that your tie is actually a mystical talisman that will protect you from all rejection.

I won’t judge.

Judgmental zombie

One trick that helped me get through the stress of preparing to publish my novel was pretending that I was doing it for a client. Since I am a professional copywriter, this was actually pretty easy. Basically, I could transfer the risk from myself to some other idiot who was going to get their ass handed to them.

Do what you have to do. Read inspirational quotes. Taunt your pet fish, because at least you can read and run and blink.

 This lidless freak does not deserve your pity

But when that deadline rolls around, jump and don’t look back.

Step Six: Have at Least One Person in Your Life Who Actually Likes You

This last step may be particularly difficult for the shy, because we don’t necessarily feel comfortable being around people, being looked at by people or acknowledging that other people exist.

However, everyone should have at least one person they can rely on to support them no matter what. If you have a spouse, hopefully they are that person.

The point is, when things start to get really scary, you can talk to this person about it or at least be eased with the knowledge that they will dutifully start a Facebook group demanding your release when you get kidnapped by the CIA for terrorism against good taste.

That person for me is my sister. She was somewhat forced into this role against her will. We’re identical twins, so she’s kind of limited on what criticisms she can throw at me.

Also, we’re official BFFs and have the heart necklaces to prove it.

So, that’s basically it. Sure, it takes us shy people a little longer (possibly decades) to take risks that normals might not have second thoughts about, but we can and have done it.

Good luck!

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