If you’re like me, or quite frankly like most other people, then you probably can vouch for the fact that you talk a lot about all the things you’d like to do – by the end of the day, tomorrow, next week, next month, or in the years to come – ultimately, maybe in your life itself. But for all of our talking, how much ‘doing’ is there? And how do we feel about this fact when it blindsides us with sorrow on an idle Tuesday later in our lives?
For me, it really stings, often with the anguish and feelings of regret that I didn’t do what I so often talked about. Maybe it’s moving to a new place, maybe it’s quitting a job to start a new passion you’ve found, maybe it’s leaving work to start a family or go back to school, maybe it’s taking time off to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or go on a walkabout down under in Australia, or maybe it’s time for you to just find yourself and whatever it is that you want to authentically DO in life. And we talk about it, we plan for it, we think it to death… and then, all to often, we don’t do anything at all.
It seems like sometimes the routine, the linear path we’re on makes too much logical sense and we stick to it for the notion of ‘safety.’ I mean, after all, the path we’re on is clearly working for us right? It’s the path we choose, it’s seemingly fulfilling, and it provides us a ‘nice life.’ I mean, why change it, right?
But is it really working? I mean, really? Why are you thinking about these other adventures if you’re so ‘safe,’ happy, and fulfilled? Clearly there is a part of you, maybe deeper down than you know, that is pretty darn curious about what you could be doing beyond this current path you’re on; am I wrong?
Most of us surreptitiously carry around these ideas, thoughts, ideas, dreams, and visions for the life we are at the least very curious about, and at most feel the desire to fulfill in our lives. And for most of us, perhaps even the majority of us, they stay our little secret; tucked away in our mind as a dream and nothing more.
We like to label these things unrealistic, impossible, improbable, or make other excuses for why they can’t be; see if these sound familiar: it won’t pay the bills, I might fail, I might look foolish, I could loose everything, I might not enjoy that once I do it, I am too old to do that, I’m too young to do that, I don’t have the money, the time, or the energy – and so it goes. What if, what if, what if…
Is there even the slightest chance you might be overthinking it a bit? I mean, wouldn’t you just like to know; either way?
And are you forgetting anything in this process? Do you find you easily give up? Do you just lie down when the going gets tough? Do you run away from challenges regularly? For most of us, the answer is a resolute, “No, that’s not me at all.”
I figured – I’m the same way. If anything, I’m tenaciously stubborn about seeing things through and making them work. Yet, here I am – habitually paralyzed by the fear of the unknown, incessantly doubting the life I could have, and ultimately, missing out on what I really want (or even think I want) in my life.
Why do we do this? For all our intelligence, we are sometime quite imprudent aren’t we? I mean, we’re repeatedly afraid to go live our own lives – instead choosing the straight and narrow path laid out before us as if that is all there is; like, forever. Did you even choose this path? Really?
Look, you and I both know this is all driven by two distinct circumstances and that ultimately they lead to the same conclusion; we’re afraid of the unknown and what we can’t predict, and we usually fear the fact we might screw it all up and make a big life changing mistake in the process. Ah, yes - Fear… our familiar friend.
Have you ever heard this famous quote?
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt said that on March 4, 1933, in his inaugural address to the United States while it was facing one of the worst economic crisis’s it had ever seen. It wasn’t too long after that speech that things shifted, significantly for the better. It propelled the United States on a journey that would include many years of prosperity, all for a nation that was, at the time of his proclamation, reeling in the struggles of the Great Depression. A little change in perspective goes a long way doesn’t it?
In her book, “Feel the fear and do it anyway,” Susan Jeffers concludes early in the book that all fear is ultimately about one very simple thing – our own innate fear that, “We can’t handle it.”
It seems no matter what we fear, that ultimately this is the root of it all. I thought on this for a few days after reading it, and concluded after much debate that she was spot on. I didn’t like to admit it, but it was true – I was afraid of my own inability to handle the situation and I lacked the self-confidence to believe I could handle the events, choices, or situations I might eventually face. Well, what do you know?
Today I was on a Skype call with my sister-in-law in Chicago and this subject came up. My wife and I were talking about one of our biggest dreams, something we’ve spoken of for years and failed twice to actually DO. And my sister-in-law courageously shared several of her own stories, including details on her personal relocation from where we now live to Chicago and then a dream she’s wanted and talks about – but has yet to take action on. As she reflected on things in the moment, she finally told it to us straight and said, “You just have to go DO it! Stop talking about it and just do it!”
That’s the pure truth of it. We’ll always be afraid of the unknown, and we’ll always feel it (the fear). Jeffers pointed out in her book that feeling fear is natural for any situation that’s new to us. And the only way to get past the fear is to take action and DO it. Feel that fear and then do it anyway.
And none of this “I’ll try” stuff either. The wisdom of famed movie maker George Lucas comes to mind from his famous ‘Star Wars’ character, Yoda, who said it best when he pronounced, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
Ultimately my point is this. Whatever you’re thinking about doing in your life, whatever you’re talking about doing, and whatever it is you dream about doing – just go DO it! Feel the fear, know it’s coming, and then do it anyway. You’ve got this, you CAN handle it!
Until you do – you’ll always wonder, and eventually you’ll regret. Please don’t allow yourself to end up in that place of remorse for what you didn’t do in life. It’s not worth it and the ache of a missed opportunity to do something truly meaningful will haunt you for lifetime.
Personally, the trepidation of NOT doing something and living with regrets is something I never want to live with. So I choose, here and now, to DO something about it. I’m going to go live my life, wherever that journey takes me – and love every bit of it for every experience I have. I can handle it, and I will handle it.
Ask yourself, what do YOU want in life? What incredible journey awaits you just beyond the veil of your own fear and the unknown? If you truly want to find out, you’re going to have to go DO it and find out. Actions speak louder than words, and doing leads you to your own fulfillment in life.
Let the cards fall where they will, just take action – that’s all you have to do. Keeping moving, keep deciding, keeping DOING… that’s how you grow; that’s how you live!
I’ll see you on the other side my friends – let’s do this!