Why Not Take The Leap?
I’ve been meeting a lot of truly smart, savvy, remarkable people lately. So many are saying to hell with the safety net, and are leaping toward their passions, and haven’t looked back since.
On the same token, however, so many of those smart, savvy, remarkable people are not.
Frankly, this makes me want to burst into tears and heave a cartful of lemon tarts at someone.
I’m dangerous like that.
Being a naturally curious person, I’m prone to asking why a lot. Why aren’t you leaping toward your passion? If you’re not happy where you are, then why not change it? What’s preventing you from living the life you wish you were?
I have this annoyingly obsessive need to know the answers to these things. We’re capable of doing so much, yet don’t take advantage of the opportunities that are available to us. By “doing so much,” that isn’t to imply that more is better, because it’s too often the case that we’re already doing so many things that we’ve created a self-imposed prison of sorts; we’re prisoners to our own lives, and we can’t get off the treadmill.
It isn’t a matter of quantity; it’s a matter of quality. It isn’t about doing more; it’s about reflecting on what it is we’re already doing, and assessing whether or not what we’re doing make sense in line with who we want to be.
You are the sum of the collection of things you do.
On the surface, that may sound superficial–I am not defined just what I do, but what I think and what ideas I have!
Sure thing, cowboy–ideas are great, but an idea will only take you so far without action.
If you aren’t willing to take your ideas and thoughts and turn them into something tangible, then in a tragic sort of way they become nearly useless. Sure, there’s some value in critical thinking by itself, but there needs to be a product of that critical thought in order for it to truly become meaningful.
Ideas are magical. They have the power to transform your entire life, if only you’ll pay attention to them and then do something with them. The only time something is “just a dream” is when you allow it to be. In this sense, we’re not just prisoners to our own lives, but we’re volunteering to be.
Top 5 Excuses (You Make) That Zap Your Dreams
Throughout the conversations I’ve been having with folks, I’ve noticed a common theme emerging. It seems as if the following 5 excuses are most popular on why people aren’t doing what they wish they could do:
1. I don’t think I’m good enough.
Someone call the self-esteem police; this one is just not going to cut it. Ever. First of all, “good” is a relative term. As long as you know more about a topic than someone else, then you will be filling a need.
Second, if you really aren’t very good at something you’d like to do, you’ll never become any better at it if you don’t start somewhere. Don’t let lack of experience prevent you from doing awesome shit; start small and build from there.
2. I don’t have the time.
Doing awesome shit is a priorities game. You’re absolutely right–there are only 24 hours in a day, and sometimes we’re limited not only by hours, but by how much creative, emotional and physical energy we have at any given time. Sometimes you’re just not in the zone; hell, I’ve been having a hard time myself getting in the zone as we work from the car. As I type this, I’m writing with my mac on my lap in the passenger seat, en route from Wilmington, North Carolina to Orlando, Florida.
I get that.
But here’s the thing: Nothing’s going to change if you don’t start making time. We aren’t super heroes; you can’t do everything at once. We need to carefully pick and choose our battles.
What are you fighting for? In other words, what do you dedicate most of your time and energy to? Is it helping you achieve your goals, or is it standing in your way?
3. I don’t have the money.
Money simply isn’t as important as we make it out to be. Most people assume that in order to start a business, for example, they’ll need to come up with so much capital and then find an office and then hire employees, etc. etc. etc. We start imagining all of the details, and we become overwhelmed by them. Frustrated. Intimidated. Scared. And we chicken out. We make excuses. We tell ourselves that it isn’t the best time to be starting a business right now, anyway, and that maybe our job isn’t so bad–at least there’s free coffee, right?
It’s a fine example of voluntary self-imprisionment at it’s finest.
The truth is that it doesn’t have to be that complicated. It doesn’t have to be that big. We can start moving toward our goals inch by inch, and readjust as necessary. We don’t have to start out having all of the bells and whistles; maybe we just get started doing some probono work to build our reputation, in order to find some paying clients who will help fund our growth.
Everyone started somewhere. Having a lot of money isn’t necessary to do awesome shit; having the courage to take positive forward steps is. Imagine the goal, and then figure out a way to make it happen. Don’t let a lack of funds deter you from exploring ideas that could change your life for the better.
4. I don’t know how.
This might be the least valid excuse of all, and we need to pick it up and chuck it out the window, right into the dumpster.
If it turns out that you don’t know much about a given topic, then dammit, GO FIND OUT. In the age of information, if you’re willing to dedicate a little time, then you can become nearly expert at almost anything. Don’t be lazy–this is your life we’re talking about here.
5. I don’t have a degree in X.
In the past, this argument might have been more acceptable; nowadays, however, it’s been rendered obsolete, thanks to the internet. Degrees are nothing more than red tape; in reality, anyone can go learn the same amount of knowledge themselves through books, podcasts, forums, blogs, web searches, etc.
Let’s say tomorrow I decide I want to become a web designer. I don’t need to go to a fancy design school and take out a ton of loans to do so; I simply need to get resourceful and start consuming information, start practicing, and start seeking feedback from those with more experience–not hard to do. Hop on Twitter and leverage the incredible power of networking.
Then I brand myself as an expert in X, and start taking on clients. Boom. I’m a web designer. Just like everything, there’s a learning curve, but it’s absolutely one worth riding on two wheels until you get your bearings. Obviously this might not work for all fields, but there’s a lot you can do on your own. It’s about having the confidence to get started.
Whatever you do, do not let yourself become one of those “if only I had….” people. You will never forgive yourself.
Be bold. Take chances. Revel in the unknown. And remember that there’s no proof that says that life was meant to be serious. Get out there and play with it. Engage with the world. See what’s out there.
And always, always, always have faith in yourself.
At the end of the day, it’s all we’ve got.