It is a new year and a fresh new decade. The years go so fast; you wake up five years later with nothing to show for except a potbelly or some offending white hair sprouting around the edges of your head.

And growing older, I have discovered, tends to make us cowards. But this decade, step out and step up. Sometimes, we need that one leap of faith. Whether it is a job that you are stuck in, a marriage or relationship that is seemingly headed nowhere, gather all the courage, weigh all the options and take a calculated risk.

If you need assurance, I have seen guys who got sacked from their jobs, went through terrible depression but rose again to greatness. Or guys who switch to their dream jobs and succeed. I have friends who wanted to start a business, saved up enough and started and it is booming. I have seen people who walked out of abusive relationships and found love again.

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However, this is not always the case because things can go south. Terrible missteps due to errors or assumptions, or plain bad luck. For errors, we can learn from other people’s mistakes. If you want to start a business or farming, wisdom dictates that you save up first, and when you think you have enough to last you and your family, then you can make a move. Remember, always start small, unless you have a windfall.

For assumptions, don’t make any. Assumption is the mother of all blunders. Don’t leave your spouse thinking your new catch will be better. Don’t make a decision in the heat of the moment. For business, just because your colleague did well with tomatoes, don’t assume that it will work for you.

It is astonishing the number of adults who hate due diligence, yet, it is the basis of future success. It is better to fail knowing that you did everything right, than to fail when you can clearly see the missteps. That said, don’t dwell too much on foresight and due diligence as they can keep you in the comfort zone, afraid to make a move.

The Luo people have beautiful motivational phrase, chaka chaka, which simply means, for any task, however, monumental, the most important step is to start. Just start. And you can learn along the way. The secret is in rising every time you fall.

Overcoming fear that is ingrained in us, because of past experiences, is not easy. There will be naysayers who will tell you ‘you can’t.’ There is the inner voice that tells you, if it is not broken, don’t fix it. The fear of failure, the fear of being laughed at or being judged.

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However, don’t ever make decisions based on how people will judge you. True, it is perfect to listen to them; it is perfect to factor in their doubts and their ideas, but never be shy or ashamed of a decision. Better to make a mistake while trying than being afraid of what may have happened.

Lastly, an American businessman once said that a ship always looks safe while docked in the harbour, but that is not what ships were built for. That is powerful. You may seem very safe in that job, that one business, that marriage, that one degree, but that is not what you were built for.

This decade, regardless of your age, remind yourself, “I was built for more.”

This article was first published in the January 2020 issue of Parents.

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