Many people live their lives by default and succumb to the insidious nature of routine, burying dreams, hopes, and aspirations, and ultimately resigning to a life of norms. It happens to the best of us so easily. A few safe choices here, a dose of caution there, an acceptance of the script created by a mainstream narrative, and — voilà! — just like that, you’re going through the motions of living a life far less than the one you may have imagined for yourself and one that is a far cry from fulfilling.
Habits eventually form and we unconsciously make a choice to simply play it safe. Soon, we find other ways to numb our knowing that our lives may not be quite complete according to the dreams we once held, and neither our potential nor our desires, fully actualized.
But what if we tried on something different just for the thrill of it? And, what if something magical happened that created paradigm shifts in our thinking, our actions, and our outcomes? What if we ourselves, could lift the malaise of the notion we may have long ago come to accept that, “that’s just the way it is,” and a whole world of possibilities that perhaps we’d not considered previously opened up to us?
Photo: A snap shot of my backyard during my scripted life, before I took a chance on a dream.
Well, that’s not just a fanciful notion — it’s absolutely possible! Have you been dreaming of changing your diet, your career, or losing physical or mental weight? Or gaining more clarity for your life, learning a new language, becoming your fittest self, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, or doing anything else that may seem unattainable from where you today sit?
You can do it.
- Take a mental inventory and decide what you really don’t want. I know, I know: The conventional wisdom tells us to figure out the opposite and it also dutifully provides us a list of acceptable options relative to what we “should” desire. We so often fill our lives with people, activities, and stuff that take our time and attention and serve to distract us from our true desires for our lives. Take stock of all of the things that are keeping you from realizing your ability to co-create the life you want.
- Cultivate and commit to the habit of silence in your daily life. It doesn’t have to be a long silence, but it should be ample time for you to luxuriate in you. Silence is the best way to practice blocking out the extraneous noise that falsely tells us what and how we’re supposed to be and what we can achieve based on cultural, gender, and all sorts of norms. Silence opens us up to our true essence. Start with just 15 minutes of uninterrupted time without your cell phone, computer, kids, partner, TV, and of course, without the guilt of taking some time to nurture yourself and your dreams. You’re worth it and your fullest life is waiting!
- Take stock of the dreams you may have traded in for the “script.” The ones you held for yourself before you decided to play it safe. Dust them off and reactivate them. Just that one act will begin to move you closer to realizing those dreams. It’s long been said that our thoughts are more powerful than we even realize. Start to dream again and pay attention to all of the little things that will begin to show up for you. Our every experience, success, or failure begins in our minds. Everything we achieve begins with our thoughts. Choose them wisely and don’t underestimate their power.
- Listen to your gut, not your head, and jump in! Make a decision to not overthink anything. Trust that you have all the information you need in any given moment to make the best decision for you and your life. With that understanding, know that the best decision is not always the safe one. There is magic in spontaneity and a fullness of life that you have yet to realize when you go just Go For It! Start small and you will soon come to trust your own knowing that something magical awaits you even in the unknown. Form a new habit of taking a chance on you and you’ll feel like a kid again — with the benefit of experience and a greater understanding of the world around you, and your power to create the life you desire.
People throughout history have asked the age-old question, “What is the purpose of life?” I believe that the purpose of life is to grow, for human beings to self-actualize to our highest and best selves. That doesn’t happen when we stay on the sidelines, resign ourselves to the notion that we’re too old, too busy, or too anything else. It’s never too late to do something different and live the full life intended for you.
“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.” — Henry Miller
When I made an impromptu decision to leave a safe corporate job in 2008 for an unplanned journey, I was 40 years old and I’d long been suppressing an inner knowing that I was in the wrong place; that my life was intended for something greater than the safety of the routine of my corporate existence and my lovely, but mundane suburban life. I’d long held a dream to serve.
Although I didn’t know what exactly that meant, I did know that it was up to me take the first step if I wanted to experience the fullness that my real and authentic life had waiting for me. But before I arrived at that place, for a very long time, I chose to be paralyzed by uncertainty, always wondering “what is my purpose?” — stifled by fear, the lack of a plan, and the unknown.
Photo: Here’s my backyard after I began to truly live. I planted a garden and started to feed people who were being nutritionally starved.
Never could I have imagined that a leap of faith, an act of spontaneity, and an unpremeditated step in the direction of my desires would open doors that I never imagined possible. Today, I write, I speak, I serve, and I learn, awaiting the next dose of wonderment life has in store for me. And I ponder what my life would look like today had I chosen to keep playing it safe and how sad it would be if I’d never know the exponential bliss that now replaces the routine of my former life. Thankfully, I’ll never know and you needn’t wait another moment pondering that question either.
What are you hoping for your life? Whatever it is, know that hope alone will not move you closer to the experiences or the life that is waiting for you. It is only a commitment to living fully, taking chances, and embracing all of the possibilities that lie just beyond your own comfort zone. Go on. Take a chance on you.
You can do it — and you are so worth it!