Reducing Risk in Any Situation


Life is full of risks.  Although many people thrive on taking risks, most people worry about risk and sometimes are paralyzed when they think about taking on a decision that entails risk.  We cannot avoid risk but we can reduce or mitigate it if we take the time to go through a few simple steps. 

Define the problem in writing

Writing out a problem allows you to really dissect it and understand it.   Also, having a problem written down allows you to go back to it as often as necessary to study it.  Studying the problem often allows you to see  aspects of it that you never before considered.

 Write out all possible outcomes and solutions

After the problem has been defined, you should give a lot of thought to all the possible solutions. Each solution will have its own set of outcomes or consequences (Pros and Cons).  These outcomes are the “what ifs” as in “what if we do  nothing?” or “what if we (fill in the blank)?”.  Listing each solution with its outcomes (pros and cons) on a separate page will help  you move through this process.

 Write out the pros and cons for each possible solution

I like to write out the problem on the top of the page, then write the solution, and finally, draw a line down the center of the page and write“Pros” on the left and “Cons” on the right.  List every good consequence or outcome about the idea (pro) and bad consequence or outcome (con).   When finished I will have one page for each solution with a list of Pros and Cons for each outcome of each solution.

Sample problem:

What color should I paint my house?

Possible solution on its own sheet of paper:

Paint the house white

Pros for painting the house white:

It will be the same as it already is (assuming my house is white).

It will look cleaner and will not stand out as a new color.

Cons for painting the house white:

I am tired of living in a white house.

White is boring.

I want something that stands out in the neighborhood.


Another possible solution on a separate piece of paper:

Paint the house red

Pros for painting the house red:

I like to see red houses so it will make me happy.

It will stand out in the neighborhood.

Cons for painting the house red:

My neighbors may be unhappy with red.

Red paint seems to fade over time and may not look good in a few years.


Another possible solution on a separate piece of paper:

Do nothing (don’t paint the house)

Pros for not painting the house:

I will save the money it would cost to buy paint and have it painted.

Nothing will change so my neighbors will not have to deal with a new color.

Cons for not painting the house:

The house will not look cleaner and better.

The siding will not be protected against the weather.

I will have taken the easy way out.


After you go through every outcome, allow some time to elapse (perhaps over night) before moving on to the next step.  Keep adding to the Pros and Cons list until you have thoroughly gone through each outcome.                 

 Rank each solution with respect to the possibility of its success

Now is the time to rank the solution papers according to the solution you think will have the best outcome as determined by your Pros and Cons list.

Write the ranking of each solution on each Pros and Cons paper and move on to the final step.  Be sure to write out somewhere if “1” is the best or worst solution so you remember how you ranked them.

Decide how you will proceed and implement the plan.

Finally, make a decision on which outcome or solution you will use and  implement that plan

The hardest part is often the actual implementation of the plan but if you don’t  “do something” this exercise will have been a waste of time and the problem will not be solved. 

Doing nothing is actually “doing something” so “doing nothing” should always be one of the possible solutions you consider.

 If you just can’t bring yourself to implement your decision, call your coach and ask her to hold you accountable to do what you set out to do!  That’s what coaches are for! 

Happy decision-making!

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