I'm still an avid soccer player, although I'm well past my prime. One difference that has become obvious to me over the years between those who make goals and those who never do is the willingness to take a shot. It's the same difference between those who are wildly successful in life and those who merely show up.
You Will Never Fully Eliminate Risk. Take Your Shot Anyway!
Successful people, like successful soccer players, understand that you will never entirely eliminate risk. Practicing will improve your odds of succeeding, but they understand you have to take your shot to make goals, knowing full well that you're likely to miss. I'm far from the best player on the field. In fact, I'd put myself towards the bottom of our team as far as raw ability and athleticism. Well into my 40s; I don't see that changing any time soon either.
Even though I'm no longer as fast as some of the others, I have rarely gone a week this year without making a goal. I get the ball in the net consistently because I take the shot. I miss much more often than I make it, but I take the shot because I know the only guaranteed way to walk away from a game without scoring is to fail to take shots in the first place.
If you want to win on the field or in life, you must take your shots when good opportunities present themselves.
Ask the girl or guy out.
Take the course.
Ask for the raise.
Have difficult conversations.
Start the business.
Accept that you're likely to fail when you take your shot, but take it anyway. The only guaranteed way to fail to score is not to take the shot in the first place. You might not have the greatest odds when you try, but at least it's better than inevitable failure by not taking a shot.
Make Your Move, but Don't Take Wild Shots
There's more to successfully achieving your goals than just taking wild random shots. If the goal is unguarded, you can take a “Hail Mary” shot from half-court. I scored two goals this weekend doing that when the keeper moved up, thinking no one would be crazy enough to take that shot.
I threw the ball away a few times that way too. So it's worth trying, but usually, you're wasting your time by not moving the ball down the court first. Most of the time, I score more when I'm right next to the goal when I take the shot.
The key to success is quickly settling the ball and moving it towards the goal. It's the same with life; short, safe passes followed by taking a shot once you're close to the objective is what wins games. You don't need to take wild risks to advance, but you do need to be willing to take some risks.
Don't Wait Too Long
Whatever you do, don't wait too long to make your move. Soccer is a game where milliseconds matter. Either you make a move, or someone else will take the ball and make their move. Life is that way; if you wait too long to make a decision, you'll miss your opportunity. Contrary to popular opinion, some dreams have deadlines as well.
In life or soccer, pause just long enough to get the ball under control, determine where you want to go, then move. Once you're near the goal, take the shot, or pass it to a teammate who will. If you miss, shake it off, and do it again. That's how you win.