16 Traits Of Strategic Risk-Takers That Give Them The Edge In Life

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What makes someone a risk-taker?

Is it someone who free-climbs skyscrapers for the adrenaline rush?

Or someone who invests their entire life savings into a new business venture?

Both people certainly don’t let fear stop them taking risks.

Many see such things as courageous—a trait of a strong-willed and ambitious individual. Others see it as impulsive and reckless.

Regardless of how it’s viewed, these are the characteristics that you’ll see in most risk-takers. Who knows, perhaps you are one…

1. They are decisive.

Taking risks isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s about making big moves, being bold, and putting yourself out there.

You’re used to making informed choices based on processing relevant information, and you know where to look for more clarity when you need it.

If you’re a risk-taker, you’re someone who can make decisions with ease—you don’t hang around. And why would you when there’s so much fun to be had?

The quicker you make decisions, the sooner you get an outcome, whether it’s what you predicted or not.

2. They are brave.

It takes guts to take risks! Winging it or hoping for a positive outcome is courageous—you have to be pretty confident to put everything on the line.

If you’re a risk-taker, your fear of failure is likely to be lower than average, and so is your level of fear in general. You’re not afraid of life, and your courage is probably linked to your need for dopamine.

Your bravery could be interpreted as foolish by some, or it could be founded on previous positive experiences.

Either way, you’re not the kind of person to wait around on the sidelines. Instead, you throw yourself into risky situations—sometimes literally!

3. They are rational.

Contrary to popular opinion, risk-taking isn’t just about bungee jumping or riding your bike without a helmet on.

It’s also about weighing up the pros and cons of potential outcomes.

You need to be able to think logically about the possibilities and make decisions based on likelihood.

This is where a rational mindset can really come in handy—you can quickly consider different variables and calculate what you need to do to increase the probability of your desired outcome.

4. They are creative.

Being able to take risks takes a level of creative thinking. If you’re making a decision that could go either way, you need to have the capacity to imagine different outcomes and possibilities—and different backup plans, just in case!

Having a visual approach can be helpful when it comes to making risky decisions, as it gives you the opportunity to play out different scenarios in your mind. You can work through what you’ll do if X happens, or how you’ll feel if Y occurs.

This is a great way to feel more confident in your decisions, knowing you’ve considered various outcomes and are happy enough to proceed.

5. They are adaptable.

Sometimes, risks don’t pay off. Risk-takers know this, which is why they must be highly flexible in their approach to life.

If things don’t go as planned, they know they need to be able to pivot quickly, have backup options, and be okay with solving problems on the fly.

Equally, even if things do work out, you need the ability to process what worked well and why. This will help you make good decisions moving forward.

6. They think about the bigger picture.

Risk-taking isn’t just about the rush; it’s often about seeing the overall picture.

Risk-takers realize that life is way bigger than each tiny decision we make. If we agonize over every single meal we cook or what pair of socks we wear each day, we’re not letting ourselves live up to our full potential.

By being able to look up and realize how many opportunities and choices there are in life, risk-takers can make decisions that might not always go to plan.

They know that if their decision doesn’t work out as they’d hoped, they’ll have another decision to make that will open even more doors.

Risk-takers know that life is full of excitement, and they know that there’s always another route to the one they are taking.

7. They can remain detached where necessary.

Some people who take risks can do it easily because they’re quite detached from things that most of us take comfort in.

They might not even think of their choices as risky because they don’t feel as though they have a lot to lose.

The less you have at stake, the easier it is to place a wild bet. A lot of risk-takers are prepared to let go of things that many of us would be unwilling to compromise on—relationships, jobs, control, and comfort zones.

By removing emotions, making risky decisions becomes a whole lot easier.

8. They are resilient.

Taking risks means exactly that—you’re making choices that could go either way. To keep doing this again and again shows huge levels of resilience.

Determination is a common characteristic among risk-takers for a reason—they must be ready to accept things they don’t like and keep going anyway.

They might be used to their risks not paying off, meaning that can stay focused and keep trying new approaches.

Either way, they’re strong and resilient in the face of adversity, even if that adversity is the result of their own actions. At work, they’re the kind of person who keeps going and is determined to succeed, even if it means going off-piste and doing it their own way.

9. They are optimistic.

To take a risk is to hope. Very few people do something risky and hope they lose everything, which means that it takes a positive mindset to go for something that might not work out.

You have to believe that it’s going to work out, that it’s going to pay off, in order to make a decision that could genuinely go either way.

By having an optimistic mindset, risk-takers can keep making decisions that a lot of us would struggle with. Logic can get in the way of risk for a lot of us—our rational brains shut it down to keep us safe.

Those who are willing to take risks do so with the mindset that it will all work out. They know there might be danger, but their hope is strong enough to make it worth trying.

10. They use their intuition wisely.

Taking risks can be scary, which is why being able to trust your gut is so important.

Regardless of what logic or experience tells you, your gut knows what’s really going on.

Your intuition can pick up on ‘bad vibes’ and can essentially translate your subconscious thoughts into actions.

If you’re struggling to take risks, it might be because you’re not used to listening to yourself and are overcome with doubt.

Practice tuning in and listening to what’s really going on in your mind. There might be a reason you have a weird feeling about that parachuting experience.

11. They are forward-thinking.

For some people, risk is based on rationale. Risk-takers are often able to think ahead and analyze potential outcomes.

You’re able to consider all the variables involved and visualize a tree full of branches of possibilities. You know that if X happens, then Y will inevitably happen, too—and you’re prepared for it!

Being forward-thinking means you’ve taken everything into consideration and thought about longer-term results, not just the thrill of the immediate future.

This is also true at work—you’re able to analyze key business information to ensure that any risks you take are likely to pay off.

12. They can be a little impulsive.

At the opposite end of the spectrum to our previous point, many risk-takers are impulsive and not at all forward-thinking! Everyone is different, so it makes sense that we all have different approaches to decision-making.

Sometimes, being impulsive can help us protect ourselves from our own negative thinking. Making snap decisions without carefully considering each and every possible outcome means we don’t spend time or energy thinking about how wrong things could go.

Being able to just run with a thought or feeling—instead of analyzing it—opens so many doors.

13. They are very proactive.

Taking risks isn’t typically associated with sitting around and waiting to be told what to do.

Instead, it’s about acting, or reacting, by yourself. You call the shots, you get up and into the world, and you do what you want!

Having a proactive approach to life can be a great way to get things done, whatever they are. It can sometimes mean you act too quickly, which is where the added layer of risk comes in, but it also means you don’t waste time.

14. They are insatiably curious.

What is it that makes people take risks? For some, it’s the thrill; for others, it’s a natural curiosity about the world that needs to be satisfied.

A lot of people take risks because they want to get out of their comfort zone. They want to learn new things and have new experiences.

They might be restless or easily bored, and they’re looking for both a dopamine hit and a discovery.

They might be bored of a mundane, predictable life and crave the unknown. And what better way to explore something new than by straying from the beaten path?

15. They are innovative.

While the word ‘risk’ often conjures up images of extreme sports or texts you’re too scared to send your crush, it goes beyond that…

Risks can be anywhere in life, and they can be a sign of innovation!

Rather than base-jumping, how about a more corporate scenario? Taking the risk to do something in a new way at work might not seem like an adrenaline junkie’s dream, but it can definitely get your blood pumping!

Being unafraid to speak up and offer a new solution can be risky, but it’s what drives businesses forward. Risk-takers are often the ones pushing back against the status quo and suggesting newer, sometimes riskier, ways to get the job done.

16. They are competitive.

Nothing like a healthy bit of competition to get you to take a risk—even if you’re in competition with yourself.

If you like winning or being the Alpha or head of the pack, you’re more likely to enjoy taking risks, too. You’re used to calling the shots and getting things done your way, so why stop now?

Your optimism is fueled by a track record of winning, and that only increases your ambitiousness while lowering your inhibitions.

You’re likely to become more and more inclined to take risks once you see it paying off. High risk, high reward, right?


Whether you’re taking risks in the boardroom or cliff edge, it’s likely that you possess a multitude of the personality traits we’ve identified.

Taking risks can be great fun, and it can fill your life with new experiences, new people, and new challenges. While it might not always pay off, by leaning into taking risks, you might see your whole mindset and lifestyle shift for the better!

Self-awareness is key to every aspect of your life, so it’s always worth checking in with yourself to make sure the risks you’re taking are safe and healthy.

Speak to loved ones you trust if you’re worried about your behavior or feel like you might need some additional support. They’ll be able to guide you, without judgement, to a better, more stable mindset if you need some help.

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About The Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.