Don’t always catch the boat
“Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” – Walter Anderson
What if you went for it?
You know, that thing you’ve always wanted to do. The job or career you would be great at. Asking out the person you could have a great relationship with. Connecting with the mentor who could shape your future. Or doing the super awesome trip you’ve always wanted to do.
Lot’s of people have ideas and dreams, but the key ingredient which is often missing is action. I was as guilty of this as anyone, and have seen how much fear can play a role in going after your dreams.
Fear can be debilitating, leave you shaking to your bones, and make you question your every move along the way.
In 2008, I was traveling with my best friend in Thailand. I had booked my flight home earlier than he did in order to make it back for two articling interviews during my second year of law school. One with the Ministry of Environment, and the other with a Human Rights firm; both organizations I thought were great.
The night before my flight home from Bangkok, I was in Koh Phangan for its infamous full moon beach party. We stayed up all night dancing and having a good time. It still brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. At 9am the next day, I went back to my hostel, gathered up my things, and left to catch my ferry. I was sad to leave as I knew my best friend and the group of friends we had made would be continuing on for another 2 weeks without me.
I reached the ferry dock, and boarding was just getting started. My best friend put his hand on my shoulder, looked at me and said two words: “No regrets”.
He often sees right through me, and in that moment he could tell I didn’t really want to go. We soon weighed my options of the fun I would have in Thailand against the possibility of me getting these jobs, knowing how much competition there was (plus, I wasn’t even sure I really wanted the jobs!).
Within a few minutes, I called my travel agent in Bangkok and postponed my flight using the free change I had. It was probably one of the craziest things I’ve ever done. Needless to say, my parents were upset. I ended up going to the after party of the full moon party, enjoyed an incredible few weeks with my friends in Thailand, and even did my interviews over Skype while wearing a collared shirt and shorts!
Since my time in Thailand, one of the things I love to say is “Live the Dream” or “LTD” for short. My best friend and I came up with it during the rest of our time together in Thailand as a way to egg each other on, and make us step outside our comfort zones.
For me, LTD-ing means living life to the fullest, stepping outside your comfort zone readily, and not worrying about what others think or what you should do according to society. It means overcoming pressures to conform, honouring your true self and trailblazing a life of your design, all while supporting others in the process to do the same.
Often in important decisions, we ask other people for input, let our minds race through the pros and cons of each option, and leave our hearts wrenched in fear and uncertainty.
The “What If’s” are endless.
We put ourselves through so much in this process just to try to assure ourselves of some sort of security; to make sure we are fitting in with others, to make sure we are going to be okay, and to make sure we won’t regret our decision.
Becoming more aware of the patterns which my mind often put me through, I found a few strategies which helped me make decisions congruent with my core and helped me step outside my comfort zone:
1. Prove your mind wrong
I have found that when I am making a decision, fears and worries naturally come up. The mind loves to mull over problems and brew in pessimism. To overcome this, I like to represent each worry or fear in turn as a coffee mug, and I place this imaginary mug on the table in front of me. I then look at the worry or fear from all angles, and find evidence that it may not be true either from my own experiences or that of others. I also think about whether there are other ways of reacting to this situation or problem, and how someone else might respond differently. Showing your mind that there is evidence to diminish the credibility of the fear or worry you’re having, helps to make it go away.
2. Follow your gut
We often first have an instinctual response when we’re making a decision. Often, the right thing to do just comes to you. But then, your mind immediately starts to pull back the reigns and tries to show you all the reasons to worry or fear stepping outside your comfort zone. You start to doubt yourself, seek others input, etc.
Trust your instincts, and the initial response you know to be your deeper truth. See how this response is usually in sync with your “Why” and the greater vision you have for your life. Acknowledge when the mind gets in the way, and allow it to. But recognize and feel what your instinctual response has told you, trust it, and let it guide your action.
3. I like to ask myself one of my favourite questions: What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?
Stepping outside of our comfort zone is not something we are trained to do in our society. It is tough to have the courage to be vulnerable, honour your life’s vision and values, and live in line with this. However, I’ve found that each time you do, you open up the possibility of great things happening.
Life is too short. Let go of the comfort zone you’re holding on to. Run around and explore what you’ve been missing. After all, what is the worst that can happen?
Live the dream,