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Why you need to take risks

The single biggest factor holding people like you back from fulfilling their dreams is unwillingness to take risks. Cycles aside, the high-tech job market will be booming for years to come; that's a safety net you should be taking advantage of.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 4 of the top 10 and 9 of the top 25 in-demand jobs over the next ten years are in technology fields. We're talking software engineers, engineering managers, IT managers, network and systems analysts and administrators, all kinds of technology jobs.

It's hard to argue with the fed's data. Bubble and burst cycles aside, technology fields have been good to us all, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. That means that a good chunk of CNET's audience probably won't be hurting for employment for the foreseeable future.

That's all good, right? Well, sort of.

If your current job is all you aspire to, all you're passionate about, all you've spent your life dreaming about, then great, you've hit the jackpot. Have a happy life and don't look back.

If, on the other hand, you feel unfulfilled some or most of the time, then I have a message for you. You're playing it too safe. You need to take more risks.

In my experience, the single biggest factor holding people like you back from fulfilling their dreams is unwillingness to take risks.

I've seen it a hundred times and I've heard every excuse imaginable: I don't want to work those kinds of hours, it's not good to jump companies so much, what if I fail, what if I succeed, I lack confidence, how do I know if I'm capable, it's outside of my comfort zone, I'm not this enough or I'm not that enough.

All those excuses have one common denominator: fear. You can make all the excuses you want, but if you're not happy and won't go for it, it's fear that's holding you back. Plain and simple.

Look, technical and engineering folks are typically a conservative lot. And that's a good quality to have. But you only live once, and if you wake up in the morning and go to bed at night feeling like there's got to be more to this life, then you're being too conservative.

And just for the record, I was a technical guy, I had excuses, I was afraid. My father worked for the post office, for God's sake. Talk about a conservative upbringing. I was there. I know of what I speak. I didn't come up with this stuff for a blog post; I came up with it for myself, a long time ago.

This isn't a do as I say, not as I do message. I walked the talk.

You know why I'm confident that risk-taking is good for you? Because, my interpretation of the Labor Department's data is that you've got the biggest safety net of all time under you. Use it.

The American dream is out there waiting for you. And we're not just talking about compensation, buying toys, living comfortably, financial independence, or providing for loved ones. We're talking about personal fulfillment and the pursuit of happiness. We're talking about going to bed eagerly anticipating what the morning will bring. We're talking about waking up when you're 70 or 80 and knowing that you lived a full life, that you gave it your best shot.

If you try and fail, that's okay. At least you tried. What more can you ask of yourself? The only true failure is failing to try. Regret is a bitter pill to swallow, my friends. I've seen it. Trust me; you don't want to go that route.

Here's the bottom line:
It's okay to be afraid. It's normal, human. Bravery is being afraid but doing the right thing anyway. Be brave. Believe in yourself. Take risks. Face your fear and don't look back. The safety net is there, just in case. But you know what? I don't think you're going to need it.