Ask people on the street if we are living in difficult times, and most of them will say yes. Then ask them whether they would be willing to risk it all for the life they desire, and almost everyone will shy away from it. The truth is most of us are too afraid of change, and it has nothing to do with the current economic environment or with our current situation.
The life-change paradox
When life forces us to go through challenging circumstances it can create the kind of perturbation required to make life-changing decisions. It is not rare for people that go through life-threatening events to undergo a significant re-evaluation of the lives they were leading. A great example of this is Brian Clark’s story.
Brian is the founder of Copyblogger, and he suffered from a subdural hematoma as a result of a snowboarding accident he had in early 2005. Unfortunately, at the time of the accident he did not realise he was suffering from a serious condition. Soon after, he became nearly crippled with headaches and hallucinations. As the doctors discovered the cause of his condition, they had to perform surgery to relieve him of the condition. In his article “The snowboard, the subdural hematoma, and the secret to life” , Brian describes going into the operating theatre and becoming very aware that death was definitely in the vicinity. Luckily surgery went well and he recovered fully.It was then that he reinvented himself. By the first week of 2006, Brian had embraced his dreams of operating 100% on-line, and launched CopyBlogger.com.
At the end of his article Brian asks us a few simple questions:
What do you want to do?
Why aren’t you doing it?
I don’t care what your answer is… this is the only shot you’ve got.
This is not a dress rehearsal.
Who are you to chase your dreams no matter what, you might ask?
Who are you NOT to?
The life you were meant to live
Most of us do what Brian was doing up to the moment of his operation: living the life we think we’re supposed to live. Deep in our subconscious, all of us have a script for what a responsible life looks like. And just as we are all unique individuals, the scripts are different for each one of us too.
The amount of pull and inertia of these scripts is nothing short of extraordinary. It doesn’t matter if we rebel against it and decide to go backpacking all over the world with no care for the future; or if we decide to blow all our money on an 18-month rock-climbing trek around the world after that successful and very lucrative first job we landed after Uni. Sooner or later, most of us will start living life according to that script.
Amazingly, no one imposed this script upon us;For that we can only blame ourselves. During our formative years, experience influences and shapes our views on life, and it is this experience that seeps into our subconscious and starts forming that script. When the time comes, the strength of our ‘will’ to break free from those preconceptions is irrelevant; most of us ends up succumbing to the force of that script. It is, after all, what we believe to be the right thing to do.
Many take comfort in the argument that these scripts represent the life they were meant to live. But that’s not necessarily true. These scripts represent the life we live when we choose to just follow the path instead of actively choosing a path. The live we were meant to live may look, feel and smell very different indeed.
Living your dreams
So how do we get out of our own heads and start living the life we were meant to live? You could go snowboarding, aim for a subdural hematoma, and use the precious moments right before life-threatening surgery to reflect on this question. Or you could do it the easy way. Ask Brian Clark, and I am sure he will agree there are better ways to recognise your dreams, choose your path, and live the life you were meant to live.
The first step is to recognise your dreams. This sounds easier than it is. Most of us have adopted a variety of cliches as if they really were our innermost dreams. Ask anyone to describe their dreams, and there is a good chance you will get a combination of big houses, expensive cars, fast boats, and easy sex with wildly attractive partners.
Fortunately, discovering your dreams can be easily done. All that is needed is the development of a habit of visioning, reflecting and documenting your aspirations. You might have heard the old adage which says that “failing to plan is planning to fail“; when it comes to choosing a life-path, this is 100% true.
So how do you adopt this new habit? There’s an easy to follow four-step process:
- Decide how much time you want to devote to this activity, and choose a regular time for reflection. Make it daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly; it is up to you. Whatever you choose, please make sure you select something you can stick to.
- At the schedule time, sit down in a quiet place, put some soothing music, and imagine you are living the life you have always wanted to live. Close your eyes.
- Open your eyes again, and start writing a description of your day.Describe what you did; where you went; who you met; what you felt. Describe everything in as much detail as possible.
- When you’re finished, close the book. Close your eyes and try to visualise the day you just wrote about.
As your routine of making a diary of your ideal life becomes more established, you will notice changes will start to happen. No, it is not that the Law of Attraction is working it’s magic; it is simply that having that vision and being fully aware of it helps you recognise the opportunities you have to make the changes required. As these opportunities arise, you will be more aware of their possibility, and you will seize the moment and take immediate action. The more you do this, the quicker you will get to live the life you were meant to live, As Brian Clark said, this is not a dress rehearsal. Why aren’t you doing what you want to do?