Last week I left my day job to pursue my passion of designing icons. This is probably the biggest risk I have ever taken in my life. I've spent these first 25 years of my existence more or less playing it safe. Until now, the biggest risk I ever took was getting on a roller coaster, even though they terrify me, to try to impress my girlfriend at the time. She ended up breaking up with me.
Playing it safe sounds so appealing. It's easy to just accept your life the way it is and not worry about failing. The truth is, I would probably be a lot further along the road to where I want to be than I am right now if I took more risks. I'm not saying sky diving would have helped me, but if I had the guts to become a full-time freelancer years ago I would be much better off.
There are some who would say giving up a steady and relatively reliable source of income is crazy. I think I'd have to agree with that, but sometimes you have to be a little crazy to be successful.
Will this all blow up in my face? Maybe. I have no allusions that success is guaranteed. If it were then there would be no risk. But does it really matter when the rewards are so great? When you take risks, other people will tend to focus on that potential failure, but that's their job, especially if they're someone who cares about you. Think about it, would you want to see someone you care about crash and burn?
I should say however that throwing caution to the wind would be ill-advised. The potential reward should be worth the risk. You wouldn't chance getting mauled by a bear for a candy bar (at least I hope not). Like pretty much everything in the world there is a healthy balance. An unnecessary risk isn't going to help, and will most likely end up hurting you.
All that being said, I would not advocate leaving a job as a good course for everybody who wants to start a business. I spent a lot of time contemplating wether this move would be right for me. It would mean less stable income, it would mean I'd have to make some sacrifices in my lifestyle with no guarantee of payoff. But I looked at the worst case scenario if I failed, and it's worth it to me. You need to take the time to analyze if a risk is worth it in your own life, and if you're married you need to consider how it will affect your significant other, and wether they are prepared for that risk.