A life in which you settle is far scarier than one in which a person pursues their dreams and fails.
Let me start by saying that you need to become aware of how important it is to be mindful of what you focus on. It’s important to control your attention because it influences your thoughts and actions. William James, the founder of pragmatism and pioneer of modern psychology, explained it best:
“Thoughts become perception, perception becomes reality. Alter your thoughts, alter your reality.”
This means in other words, that what you pay attention to influences your thoughts, which impact your actions and which determines the outcome of your life.
Being successful requires proactivity and a lot of personal willpower. You can not be waiting for things to happen and life to come to you. It means that you are and you should always be the one controlling the game. You should play offense, not defense, and that you are active, not passive. In my opinion and from what I have experienced so far, the surest sign that something was a great idea is that you curse yourself for not doing it earlier or sooner. You realize your time and energy could have been better spent elsewhere. Sometimes you have got to tell yourself, what If tomorrow I die, would I be proud of myself and the life I had created around me, or would I lead it any differently? With this thought inspired by Seneca, you can recenter yourself because even if the ratio of good-to-bad decisions can improve with time, sometimes you need a reminder to remain on the right path.
Furthermore, the rules you set up for yourself and success must be simple. You should define your success based on the way you live your life versus the way you want to live your life. Starting with a list of your habits, your goals, your plans, etc. Sometimes, your wants and needs fall in line with societal standards and sometimes they don’t. I don’t know that mixture for you. Only you do. So based on what you understand of your lifestyle versus the one you aim for, you can become proactive and start this personal journey. As an example, when it comes to me, I knew that I’d feel like I was wasting my life if I got stuck in some corporate career. I didn’t like doing a job behind a computer from 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. I’ve always had a disdain for authority and never wanted to work for anyone else. So, you could’ve paid me six figures at this type of job and I still would’ve felt like a dead person. It doesn’t mean that I found my perfect job easily. When I was questioning myself and looking to make a change in my life choices and career, I am not going to lie, I was realizing that I would be starting my career at an age when my peers would be rising to the top of their careers and/or talking to their kids about their dreams. Half of my life would be over. All of the “rational” parts of me warn, “don’t do it” or that “it’s too late”. I’ll be old when I’ll be done studying or when I’ll be officially starting. My ovaries will be dried up. I might not even be able to have kids at that stage of my life If I wait until I am over with school books and evaluations.
When it comes to choosing success over excellence, a long happy career over a rational mone-making one, one thing is at the core of finding your why, this is your decision making. When you make a decision it is the manifestation of your why. Refuse to decide and it’s the same as not having a why, decide in haste and the river will be just as unpredictable as if you have no why at all. To navigate properly, you must pay attention, you must engage with the flow of the river. You have to look, you have to engage, and you have to decide. Keep in mind that the decision to engage with your journey down the river will reward you. The more decisions you make, the more you come to understand your why. The better you can travel the river.
Finally, I asked myself how much of my life is any different than being dead based on the things I truly value. Time spent living in a way you know you don’t want to live means you’re being dishonest with yourself. Be blunt, be brave, and make it happen. Also, keep in mind that time is the most important commodity you have. Fortunately, as Seneca says, life is long if you know how to live it. It’s powerful to put your goals into words. To find those words are an entirely different matter. Few things are the reasons why we do what we do. Our motivations and decisions are wide and different from a person to another, but even with all this variation, we will always find someone next to us on the river. Keep looking, keep fighting the waves, and most importantly, keep your head high and straight because the journey is worth the destination.
In the words of Paulo Coelho from The Alchemist, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting”.
- With all my love, B