facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause Share Arrow Right
Investment Insights Financial Planning

How to Do a Proper Risk Assessment

%POST_TITLE% Thumbnail

Sometimes the biggest risk is not taking one. 

Try as we may, it's almost impossible to protect our lives, careers, and financial planning from some degree of volatility. If you're not willing to accept risk, then you might stick with a "safe" but unfulfilling career for too long. Your relationships might lose their spark. Taxes and inflation might erode your long-term financial prospects. 

This four-step framework can help you become more comfortable assessing risks that could compound your Return on Life. 

1.  Know what you want to achieve.

Clarifying your goals can also clarify your best path forward. Take potential risks out of the equation and ask yourself what you're really trying to achieve. 

Don't settle for the first answer you arrive at. If you're unhappy at work, do you really want to quit your job? Or do you like your employer but feel like you could contribute more in a different role? Do you really want to take on a mortgage that stretches your budget? Or does your family just need some extra elbow room that you could create with a small remodeling project?

Setting more specific goals can also shrink your potential risks down to size. For example, if you set a specific, long-term goal of retiring at age 65, the risk of investing in a volatile market today will look a lot smaller.

2. Consider the downsides.

Avoiding risk often feels safe and responsible. When we put our feelings, careers, pride, time, or money on the line, we very well may incur losses that we can't regain. 

But a life that stays the same forever carries its own set of risks: stasis, boredom, a lack of fulfillment, a narrower range of ideas and experiences. In most cases, taking chances is the only path to change, growth, new adventures, and broader horizons. Is protecting where you are right now worth sacrificing everything that you could be?

On the other hand, it's not unreasonable at this step to consider worst-case scenarios. What happens if you do get fired while trying to make a career move? If your best friend's new company fails, can you afford to lose the investment you're considering? Will moving across the country for your dream job put irrevocable strains on your relationships with your spouse and children? Be just as clear about the stakes of this decision as you are about your goals so that you can give each their proper weight. 

3. Consider the probability of success.

Not all risks are equal. If you storm out of your boss' office after a frustrating meeting and quit on the spot, you're probably not taking a career risk: you're gambling. 

But if you take time to gather information, reflect on past experiences, crunch numbers, and plot a career change on your $Lifeline, you're probably preparing a calculated career risk that has a better chance of succeeding. 

4. Commit to your decision.

Indecision is a decision: you're choosing to keep avoiding risk and stay the same. Or, you might make half-hearted moves in one direction that aren't meaningful enough to move you towards a goal. 

If you decide that the risk you're contemplating isn't worth taking, great. Commit to that choice and move forward. Think about other ways that you can achieve related goals in less risky ways that are aligned with your core values. Or do something that will renew your appreciation for all the Return on Life you're getting right now. Take your family on a vacation. Go on a date night with your spouse. Put your nose to the grindstone and get that work project across the finish line ahead of schedule. 

If you do decide the upside to a risk outweighs the downside, go all in. Make an appointment to share your goals and I wi'll help you leverage your Life-Centered Financial Plan to improve your potential results.

Between industry news and personal experience.