Attaining Your Goals: Risk, Reward & HumilityA relatively hot topic turned up at the end of last year, found in and among commentary on national bestseller lists, with scores of subsequent articles and essays in magazines, journals and online: taking risk to achieve the happiness you crave and deserve in life and work.

Suggestions abound about the necessity (not mere option) of striving toward certain pinnacles in life, be they health challenges to overcome or professional goals to better implement. The condition of being human in a complex world requires much life-energy spent on going after what’s really important and required of each of us, rather than in chasing distractions.

I like the addition to this philosophy, though, of an element I believe that’s equally required in the mix. It was well stated in a New York Times Career column editorial on Sept. 30, 2012, describing that mere work and dedication are not enough to reach one’s goals.

Real “audacity” must be paired with a balancing measure of “humility.”

Akin to gentle strength — a metaphorical pairing I really latched onto a decade ago (and symbolized for me by a picture of a Sioux woman carrying a heavy burden of wood through snow on her shoulders) — risk and humility go hand in hand. The latter does not temper the trajectory of the extension of the risk-taking — our liabilities do that. Humility simply properly balances the scale, accompanying our grand, significant striving motions that move us forward to what we deserve in our lives, our bodies, our work, our relationships.

You must believe in yourself, your ideas and needs, and go toward what is required and needed for wholeness with a measured sense of humble acknowledgement that our unique assets are indeed worth preserving, declaring, and cultivating.

Attaining something that changes the playing field might seem unreachable to an individual, group or company at any given time. With risk-taking, with the grit of unusual and unique dedication to topics normally resisted, they can be accomplished.

True change is risk paid off as ultimate reward for many — daring to utter the normally not-spoken, pursuing what needs to be addressed that everyone hides their head in the sand about, whether it be mental health or business or cultural issues, and going after the big players who do naught but ill in their work. But it also exposes and celebrates those who create good as individuals and for society.

Things that require over-the-top courage are the very things that will liberate and invigorate an individual as much as the larger whole.

Think in your life where bold steps paid off. Then reflect some more on future risk and reward and link your next steps, with the appropriate measure of humility in the mix — experiential learning, professional advancement, a focus on personal or organizational wellness. Whatever is required, take risks; strive for it. No greater reward will reveal itself than deep personal satisfaction with far-reaching impact.



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 0 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 May 2013
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Miles, L. (2013). Attaining Your Goals: Risk, Reward & Humility. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 3, 2015, from


Recent Comments
  • Grace: Thank you! This was extremely helpful and encouraging. I appreciate you transforming your pain into a gift for...
  • Bipolar&BPD: I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m not only bipolar and have to deal with hypomania...
  • mark: hi everyone out there. believe me ‘SHIT HAPPENS”. ITS ALL ABOUT ‘REASON’ AGAINST...
  • Hurting in Vegas: I also have this crazy obsession with suicide. I have been abused sexually/physically and...
  • Dadisconcerned: My 12 yr old boy has ADD and has a big problem with waking and then getting himself together in the...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 7024
Join Us Now!