I have a confession. I am guilty of trying to analyze too many potential outcomes of my life and it’s paralyzing. Every single decision in my head becomes a thought experiment. What will make me the most successful? What will my friends think? What will my co-workers think? What will my family think?
This paralysis is incredibly detrimental to personal growth and progress in life. How can you expect yourself to learn and grow if you’re too busy planning on the sidelines instead of playing the game?
This is a fundamental problem with perception – predicated by the way education has been positioned in our lives. The opinion at large is that unless you’re in school for something, you cant do it.
This is one of the most messed up mindsets plaguing our world today.
Movement Trumps Planning
One of the most empowering abilities can have is the ability to MOVE. Let me explain…learning how to let go of all your preconceived notions, assumptions, rules and realizing that any action is more important than no action just start moving.
Too many people care about the wrong shit in today’s connected world. What Frank ate for dinner, how Lisa feels about the election or that dope Veilance jacket that Jason bought.
If someone asked you what type of Italian dish you wanted for dinner you might have an obvious answer, but if that same person removed the Italian restriction, it opens up every option – how do you choose? By going with your gut right? In my experience, my gut is great at deciding between two options, but falls flat when it comes to more obtuse questions with larger answers.
So then the question becomes, how do you set up circumstances in which your gut is adequately prepared to make the right decision? By setting boundaries, NOT goals…
Set Behavioral Boundaries or Habits – Not Goals
If you are an entrepreneur, a self-starter, or anyone else who is always interested in personal development im sure you have come across many articles that elaborate on the need to follow a traditional path, or the requirement of a “goal” so you just don’t go out and spin your wheels. I disagree.
Goals give you a target but provide no guidance on how to get there.
The circumstances you were in when you originally set your goals, will always change. Sure they can be used strategically in order to track progress on one finite task but they kill freedom. Don’t set goals, set boundaries.
Think about it like this…a racehorse has a very clear cut goal of crossing the finish line first. Each horse has that same goal. They all start from the same place and have the same finish line (think about school as a starting point, and “success” a the finish line). Each and every horse wears blinders – so they can set boundaries on what information they are able to consume during a race. Without putting blinders on, the horse still has a very clear cut goal of winning the race, but now all of a sudden the world has opened up to everything.
What good is a goal without boundaries – and even if they do win one race, they still need to win a bunch more – so why waste time setting the goal to win the race? Just set the boundaries and fucking run your heart out. And while you’re running, keep the chatter to a minimum. Do you think the horse or the jockey care what some loser in the grandstands has to say?
Social Media Is Your Enemy
Yes, I am on Facebook, I follow people on Instagram (but deleted it off my phone in 2017) and have an active profile on LinkedIn but social media still sucks. Why? Because it enables you to just sit there, subconsciously comparing yourself to others, feeling left out, or like you have not accomplished anything. What a load of bullshit. Stop it, just stop now. When you look through your feed, remember, people are posting things that portray the life they want you to think they live, not what actually happens.
Social media is like historical fiction. Yes, what you are seeing might be based on true events, but quite often, there is much more than meets the eye.
Because of that, you can’t trust what you see, and even so, who cares what someone else is doing, or what food they ate or what sweet new gadget they got – you’re reading this article because learning to let go sounded interesting to you right? So, let go. Stop caring about this stuff, care about yourself. Focus on your strengths, no other peoples. Look inward for your answers, not outward. Look at your feed like you look at animals in the zoo, stop, smile, point, and move the fuck on.
Life is a Marathon – a solo one
One way I try to mentally break things down is by thinking of my life as a series of smaller stories, that all make up one larger volume. Something similar to Aesop’s Fables except Aesop isn’t my name and these shorter stories aren’t made up fables, but real subsets of my life.
Sometimes I cant help but think of my own life as a Gantt chart – and believe it or not – I have actually attempted to build one based on what I think I should be doing both now, and in 10 years from now but I always have trouble figuring out what comes after the stage of life I am currently in. By waiting for an opportunity to present itself, I have been able to get where I am now, but again, that leaves me feeling like a passenger. Yes, I am fortunate enough to have put myself in enough situations where good opportunities come along and the universe shows me a way, but what I am trying to figure out now is how to put myself in the driver’s seat.
When asking others, they often come back at me with the same questions, What do I love, what do I want to wake up and do every day? I don’t know – the only thing I do know – is that I love solving problems. I love being confronted with a difficult situation that others are unable to solve – and solving it. That is where I get a rush, and that is one of the very few times I feel proud of myself because I know that takes discipline, and for me, when evaluating myself, discipline and resilience are the two most important traits in the world. Maybe that’s where I get hung up, both of those traits are largely evident when you’re doing something you don’t want to be doing – not waking up and doing exactly what you were put on this earth to do.
Maybe I just simply value the wrong traits about myself.
There is not one correct answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up”
I still ask myself the same question that most adults ask kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Even though I am 37 with a wife and 3 kids, I still feel like I am empowered enough to completely change the path that I am on. Some of you reading this might not feel the same way about making an abrupt change like that, but during my 37 years of life, the one thing that I have learned that is most effective at influencing the outcome of the game, is changing the very field the game is played on.
I am confident enough in myself that whatever decision I make, or whatever direction I choose to focus on, I will succeed at, because I won’t let myself fail. And even if I do fail in a traditional sense, to me, it’s about what I learned during the journey. This is a very powerful feeling to have and is something that I feel both enables me to quickly pivot my own life but also at the same time leaves me with decision blindness because I know deep down that I will gain some sort of value from whatever I try.
Don’t be afraid of uncertainty, learn to use it as a catalyst.