Here’s the thing: in the year 2017, reaching the the ripe old age of 24 feels like the end of the world. In your mid-twenties, having been exposed to the seemingly endless list of accomplishments the Mark Zuckerbergs and Evan Spiegals of the world, you are convinced that you’ve reached the peak of your youth and capabilities.
The crippling self-doubt that often permeates the thoughts of my mind and many others I’m sure, the insecurity and lack of accomplishments, the already sky-high stack of problems on my plate too often serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy leading to failure, because you’ve already convinced yourself that you can’t do it before actually trying.
If you find yourself teetering on the edge of an enormous decision, it is because there is always a nagging voice in the corner of your mind reminding you of the challenges ahead.
Discontent at work and want to quit? Where will you get money? You should have started on this years ago. You should’ve known better than to study liberal arts. You’re too old to get the hang of new skills.
Want to travel far and often? With what money? Why do you get to travel and leave family behind with their problems?
Have passions you want to pursue? Who is going to pay the bills and support family while you do that? You’ll be so behind others in the field. What if investing in this thing doesn’t pay off and you’ve have wasted time, money and have to climb over a mountain of disappointment?
Anyway, you get an idea of the self-deprecating whirlpool of thoughts that is my inner monologue.
The internet is filled to the brim with motivational quotes, inspiring videos and articles telling us how to get it moving. But it’s not until you get some sort of proverbial slap in the face that really gets you moving and as cheesy as it sounds, it comes from within.
Yesterday, I came across the Facebook status of a classmate. He was in my debate class in college and one of the most well-spoken and level-headed people I’ve known–during controversial class discussions, he would coolly dismiss arguments with flawless logic and appeared unscathed by provocative comments. This is likely due to his being a top performer on the debate team, but the traits were nonetheless highly admirable.
He discoursed on the topic of risk-taking in a way that resonated with me: here’s a few highlights.
YOU must start re-engineering your brain towards risk.. LOOK, in order to gain courage, you have to start doing activities that require smaller amounts of courage and keep doing different, slightly outside the box activities in order to start moving on to the bigger and, ultimately, more impactful work via risks that will then change your life and those around you.
Most people never take any real risks because they have been engineered and wired not to. You have been conditioned especially because of school and other structural constraints to have a worldview that not only limits the field of what is possible, but also, and more importantly, always dissuades risk tasking and attempting to find meaning/purpose outside of a pre established framework…
But I know one thing, you can’t know without experimenting. Ruthlessly. Relentlessly. Constantly. And it doesn’t even have to be that big the first few times. You don’t have to be unrealistic about it when you first start out…
Risk taking, especially at a smaller level, is the only way to deal with the main reason people don’t ever take risks: fear.
For some, taking a risk comes with a higher price tag than for others. Not everyone can bounce back.
But really, it is all about how to hard-wire your brain to think differently than the way you have become accustomed to, and that means saying no to fear.
It is true that you only have one life to live, and the depth of that notion becomes deeper ingrained with every passing year of passivity, of no action because of fear.
Don’t let the fear of taking risks for its potential repercussions control you.
As the saying goes, you are a prisoner of your own mind. You must do all that you can to break free of the chains.
This is how I have been striving to accomplish this: small goals. Once you achieve those, you begin to gain the courage and confidence for larger goals until there are no more zero days in your life.
Granted, there will be moments, days and weeks of despair–but as the great Gary V (only half sarcastic here) intimates, the journey is your drive. You gotta love the journey.