The Risks Of Not Taking Risks

What would happen in your life if you never took any risks at all? Do you believe that you would always be safe and well within the confines of your comfort zone?

The other night I stayed up late watching a movie. I decided to watch This Is Where I Leave You which featured Jason Bateman as the lead character, Judd Altman.

After a bit into the movie Judd’s character is reconnecting with a childhood friend. In the past few months, he discovered his wife was having an ongoing one-year affair with his boss. He is divorced, unemployed, and living in a typical bachelor pad. This is allright before his father passes away and his whole reason for being home and the chance to talk to his friend Penny.

What he said in that conversation caused me to pause, rewind, and listen at least three or four times…

“I’ve never taken any chances. I spent my entire life playing it safe just to avoid being exactly where I am right now.”

Now just think about that one. He had his entire life planned out since he was a kid. He had the job, the marriage, perfect apartment, and he played everything safe and did everything by plan. But in the end… everything that he was avoiding and was most afraid of happening ended up happening anyway.

With risk comes reward but also the potential for negative consequences. However, at least in this case, it also appears that not taking risks can be just as consequential in the end.

Do you weigh the possible consequences to taking risks in life to the degree that it prevents you from pursuing your passions, your dreams, you calling, or you purpose in life? Do you play it safe hoping the universe will award your timidity with less stress, drama, and chaos? Did or do things always go as planned?

The movie ends with the main character Judd coming to terms with the fact that life is complicated and he must embrace it. The last scene is of him doing something that he had never done before but always wanted to. He finally decided to take a risk… and he is shown happily smiling at the end.

The lesson that I am taking away from the movie is it doesn’t matter if you refuse to take a risk or not, what is meant to be will be and ultimately will be visited upon you one way or the other. Life is going to happen, and things are going to happen regardless of if you take chances or not. There will complications, there will be chaos, and there will be drama, and since these things are going to occur regardless, you might as well go after what you want in life, full-tilt. Take chances and to say YES to life’s opportunities as they fall into your lap.

Are you more prone to risk and taking chances or to being cautious and playing it safe?

Do you think that in the end it really matters?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado


  1. Rarely have ever been hit as hard between the eyes as I was when I heard Judd Altman in the scene you mentioned in your article. I am 48 years old, have 3 degrees and am working a menial job in a plastics plant. I’ve always taken the safer path I have very little to show for it. The problem is that I don’t know what I could have done different. Where is the balance that gets some ahead?

    • 3peaksblog says:

      Hi David and thanks for your comment! There is nothing wrong with the safe path as it is safe… that is until it isn’t anymore. What I mean by that is, what has the safe path cost you in life? Was it really safe, or are there costs that you did not account for? You said that you have very little to show for it, what is missing? On the plus side though, you can look back and not know what you could have done different. From that comment, can I guess that you don’t have any regrets? They say that taking risks is scary but what is more scary is having regrets. I can’t tell you where the balance is between the two as it is different for everyone but if you would like to talk about it, email me via the contacts page and we can set up a free call if you would like. Have a Happy New Year David! – Andy

      P.S. What I have learned is that often the next thing that I need to do that doesn’t feel safe, or the thing that scares me, is exactly the next thing that I need to do or the step that I have to take. For the past few years THAT has been my barometer to balance safety and risk (and boredom) while being able to continually move forward. 🙂


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