The Upside of Taking a Chance

Will Wilkinson has spent more time than most digging through happiness research in an analytical way. In his post announcing a major career move — he says he’s going to do less political punditry in order to get an MFA and start writing novels — he reflects:

I think the most important thing I took away from all that time with my nose in happiness research and behavioral econ is that we overestimate the value of what we already have and so underestimate the upside of taking a chance, leaving something behind, and making a big change. Most of us end up where we are through a sort of drift. Sometimes that works out splendidly. And drift hasn’t not worked out for me. I really like what I do. But, alas, I don’t really love it. I never wanted to be a pundit or a “public intellectual.” I always wanted to be an artist of some sort and I still want that. I want to make awesome shit people love. It’s my new motto: make awesome shit people love. So here we go!

6 Responses to The Upside of Taking a Chance

  1. Chris Yeh says:

    Wow, I’m impressed with Will’s dedication. Once you decide to do something, you might as well get started as quickly as possible.

  2. Rick Smith says:

    Hey Ben, totally agree. In fact, my last book The Leap was mostly about this topic. Missed you at the last TED, btw. I was hoping to look for you, but had to hop to New York mid-week. Enjoy it? That was my eighth. Hope we run into each other sometime.

  3. Could not have picked a better quote Ben. And its completely true, sometimes the road we are on doesn’t lead us to our desired destination. So take a few scenic routes and you may run right into your dream along the way.

  4. I love this – both the decision to take a risk and the resolution to go all-in at the point of decision. I once heard someone say that “Sometimes you have to let go of a satisfactory thing in order to get something better” – it applies to all sorts of situations (relationships, housing, work, routines, etc), so has stuck with me. Good for Will!

  5. Lindsey says:

    Hi Ben,

    I am reaching out to you on behalf of our client, Strayer University. May we share promotional content with you regarding scholarship opportunities with Strayer University and free courses with Jack Welch Management Institute? Please email us if you’re interested: bloggeroutreach@mail.strayer.edu .

    Thank you,

    Lindsey
    Insights Coordinator
    Rockfish

  6. Rivelino says:

    “we overestimate the value of what we already have and so underestimate the upside of taking a chance, leaving something behind, and making a big change. Most of us end up where we are through a sort of drift.”

    ha, that’s just a fancy way of saying WE ARE SCARED.

    ben, you wrote about this much better in two places:

    1. one post about how the most successful people are not scared of the S word. they are not scared — or ashamed — of saying that that scared.

    so much of what we do is driven by a hidden fear of embarrassment, shame, or public humiliation. the more we own up to that, the more successful we will be.

    in a recent video, tim ferriss and chase jarvis talked about their fears openly. very refreshing and inspiring.

    also:

    2. your post about “the top 5 regrets of the dying” talked about fear also. not living life for oneself, instead living for others, i believe was the #1 regret.

    so even though WW is sort of right about what he is talking about, he is skirting around the real issue.

    the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>