5 ways to turn risk into a win

Written by Kathleen Fisher, Knowsley VIC. As featured in The Country Web 2016 Annual

I would never skydive, bungee jump or swim with sharks… and yet I consider myself to be a risk-taker.

How can that be?

Because I believe there’s a big difference between being a daredevil and taking risks. For me, the key to successfully undertaking any risk is to be calculated. Name a person who has achieved significant things by flying by the seat of their pants. I’m sure there have been a select few, but their names certainly don’t drip from the tongue.

I did a quick Google search for evidence to back up my claim and came across a Forbes magazine article that quotes Leonard C Green, an academic and entrepreneur who has changed the world in ways anyone reading my words today can only dream of.

“Entrepreneurs are not risk takers. They are calculated risk takers.” LEONARD C GREEN

That is, they don’t act on a whim, follow a trend or wake up one morning with a crazy idea—instead, they have a goal, create a written plan and step outside their comfort zones to turn their dreams into realities.

How does this relate to me?

Just over 12 months ago, I sold my house and bought a farm… not only in a different town, but in a State I’d never been to. And I did it all on my own while my husband was overseas on a two-year posting for work!

People thought I was mad. The most common thing they said was, “You won’t know anyone. Won’t you be lonely?”

Actually, no… because I had a plan.

I should say ‘we’ had a plan. My husband and I had dreamed of owning acreage for 10 years. He’s a city boy from another country (Zimbabwe) and I’m the fifth generation of an Australian farming family (which greatly helped).

Image of horse and colt

“In my late thirties I reconnected with my childhood love of horses and very quickly started breeding high-end Appaloosas and quarter horses on a boutique level, with the help of wonderful mentors.” Pictured is Treena Razzle Dazzle (AQHA) with her 2015 colt.

As you can imagine, living on a quarter-acre block in town and relying on friends with a few acres on the edge of town to agist broodmares only goes so far in horse breeding. Something had to give.

It’s not easy to synthesise the last year into a series of how-to steps of advice for anyone ready to transition toward a risk-worthy dream, but here are my top five tips:

1. Know your limits

Depending on perspective, I’m either blessed or damned to have an interest in personal financial management. Either way, as the one with this ‘gift’ in my relationship, I had a decade to plan for buying acreage, which is no mean feat in today’s agricultural climate, where you either inherit or save and invest like crazy to afford a (small) property. I knew exactly what we could afford versus what we were prepared to commit.

2. Have a realistic wish list

I’m my parents’ daughter when it comes to land. The fact is that any entry level farm for sale is going to be run-down—there will be rubbish everywhere and the fences will be a mess! However, I had two musts… the first was that the soil and its potential productivity had to be topnotch. This, of course, meant sacrifices elsewhere—and the primary one was a house in desperate need of work.

My second must was that a new location needed to have good job opportunities. While my skill set is easily transferable, my husband’s is limited to certain geographical areas, which narrowed the field considerably.

3. Draw on your networks

In this age of Facebook and other online networks, we have a wealth of resources and support as close as a mouse click. As soon as the purchase of our property was confirmed, I hit my social networks and asked for contacts in my soon-to-be home. As a result, I already had half a dozen friends lined up before I moved, who have since supported me through everything from running out of water to pets dying!

4. Make your own way

Many of us feel there’s a general lack of responsibility in our society. One way I see this played out is the assumption things must come to us, especially socially. However, I believe life is what we make it, which means we can live pretty much anywhere when we make the effort. As such, I joined the clubs and associations that matter to me as soon as I moved. Getting involved is not always easy (and I often vow never to join another committee again!), but it’s the best way to meet like-minded people, create a social life and feel you have a purpose.

5. Choose your attitude

To be honest, there are many times I would have gladly given up over the last 12 months. Most notably when sewerage gushed up through both showers, I didn’t have a single gate on the entire property that actually closed and I unwittingly bought a horse infested with a frightening and contagious equine disease.

However, I had a choice—crumple under the weight of the drama or get on and solve the problem. The fact is, to use an old term from school, life often ‘sucks’.

However, I believe what happens to us is often not as important as how we react, which is why I choose to see problems as opportunities or learning experiences. Giving up is often not a luxury we have, which makes seeing the silver lining on every cloud an absolute necessity.

In the last issue of The Country Web, Jessica Green’s wonderful article ‘Everyday gratitude‘ resonated with me. Whenever you’re in doubt, focus on what you have and the joys of being alive.

How blessed we are to live in a country where the government values the contribution of rural women enough to give us resources, a magazine and an opportunity for our stories to be told!

About nswrwn

NSW Rural Women’s Network is a government program working in innovative ways to promote leadership and action on rural women’s issues. The RWN team is dedicated to connecting and exchanging information with women and stakeholders in rural, regional and remote communities.
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