Alright, that’s it. You’ve decided, you’re going to get fit.
You got your new Nikes, sweat-wicking lulu lemon shorts, you’ve found the perfect gym, organised with your best friend how you guys are gonna crush it, booked time off in your schedule to go, found the right workout plan from a celebrity trainer, charged up your Fitbit, everything is good to go. Ughhh but wait, your knee feels a bit weird. You don’t want to aggravate it, whatever it is. You should wait till it clears up.
Flash forward six months, the pale glow of Netflix on your laptop illuminates the Rorschach blot chip grease stains on your belly, your Nikes lay covered in dust in the closet and you are wondering where you went wrong. I can’t count the number of times where I have tried to start something, tried to create a new habit, embarked on learning a new skill and it all came crashing down. People often see this same pattern of disappointment as they fail to take action and chase their dreams.
A friend of mine has always wanted to spend some time living in Germany. She talks about it with great passion and her eyes get all cloudy.
Ok, how can I help? What’s stopping you?
Oh gosh, everything, money, family, pets, jobs, Trump, whole foods coupons, the price of oil…
The list goes on and on of things she needs to deal with before she can responsibly move to Germany. Well, she will get it done eventually right?
She’s only been talking about doing this for 25+ years, but wait, there’s always just one more thing.
I remember when I was graduating high school and I was planning to move to a new city on my own as a 17-year-old. Many of my friends said,
Oh no that’s crazy, I am just gonna do a couple years at home, save some money then I will do it. I need to be responsible.
That was 9 years ago and guess what, most are still at home, and they haven’t saved that much money. Guess the right time hasn’t come yet, maybe next year.
Don’t confuse safety with success.
There are a couple seemingly inherent issues that humans have that contribute to our urge to limits ourselves.
- Our loss aversion. Even though we want to chase our dream, it requires us to leave our comfort zone and we view that as a loss. Some researchers estimate that before people will take the risk there must be a reward of 5 to 1. Seems crazy right? It is.
- We listen to others too much. So often people take advice from family and friends when they know nothing about what they are giving advice on. I remember one time someone in-depth told me how bad of a city Vancouver was. I was pretty shocked having lived here and loved it, I asked how long she’d lived there for? Never. She’d never even visited, she had built up an image of the city in her head and was not afraid to dole out her opinion. Talk about stupid advice, but what is truly dumb is letting these people’s opinions influence you.
- We are scared of failure. ‘What if I try and I can’t make it? I’d have to come back with my tail between my legs. How embarrassing. I should probably just wait until I am sure that I will succeed.’
- We are scared of the unknown. What could happen to me, what if this isn’t the right time? What if I miss a better opportunity while chasing this one?
This list is not exhaustive but these are the main factors at play in making a decision to procrastinate. Now, if you look for a theme between those four you will quickly see that each of them is rooted in fear.
“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality.”
Waiting for a 5 to 1 payout will lead you to miss a lot of 2-1, 3-1 and 4-1 payouts. Pretty good payouts on your investment by anyone’s metric. Not to mention, the loss is usually just a blow to your imaginary ego, it isn’t really a loss if you just shift your mindset. So the practical response would be to take those risks. But you are too ‘risk-averse’ aka ‘a fucking coward’ to take action.
When you are worried about a possible negative outcome, ask yourself ok so what? If the answer isn’t ‘I will lose everything I love and most, if not all, of my appendages’, then you can probably recover.
I will now reveal to you the top-secret powers to forgetting all that noise and to start chasing your dreams.
- Only listen to people who are expert in the area that concerns you, but never listen to anyone at the price of ignoring your own drive. Many knowledgeable and well-wishing people have given me some awful advice. Sometimes the people who will try to pull you off course the most will be those who love and care about you.
- Your first attempt should be really bad and maybe embarrassing. It is no big deal. So many people want to wait until the perfect moment to launch into their dream. Well sorry Sally but, it’s not coming. There is no perfect moment, there is no right time. A lot of people have six feet of dirt on their chests and are waiting for the perfect moment to move to Europe, to start their company, or to talk to that pretty girl on the street. Eventually, you just have to go, and the sooner you do go, the happier you will be. Even if you fail you will know why you failed and will have a better chance the second time. Whereas, if you are still just guessing and planning you have no idea where you should be focusing and whether it will help at all. Start the feedback loop as soon as you can.
- Don’t be afraid to fail, show weakness and ask for help. Sometimes it is important to feign confidence, but I find in most scenarios it plays much better to be confident in your ignorance. There is nothing to be ashamed of, everyone has to learn and I find people are much more forgiving if you say, ‘sorry but this is my first time, do you think you could help me?’
- Realise it is going to be hard but it will be rewarding. Everything in life from fitness, to entrepreneurship, follows a similar curve of, curiosity – commitment – difficulty – growth – plateau – reward. Most people make it to either difficulty or to plateau and then quit before making it to the reward. You have to have the right mindset and the proper systems in place to face those eventual roadblocks otherwise, you are hooped. There is nothing in life that goes off as planned, difficulties and hardships are inevitable so ensure you are prepared BUT BUT BUT BUT do not forsake actually starting with the excuse of preparation. If in doubt, figure it out on the fly, you will survive and learn because of it.
- Relax and enjoy it all. This is the most important. In chasing your dreams you will inevitably face a wide array of emotions and feelings. Fear, anxiety, heartbreak, confusion, inspiration, and anger. Try to not take any of them too seriously. As far as I am aware you only have one life (as a human) and why not enjoy it. Regardless of the outcome, win or lose, try to enjoy it.
Ok with those points in mind here is the blueprint for getting your dreams.
- Decide on your dreams. (If you can’t think of this in 5 minutes just pick a placeholder)
- Take 30-60 minutes to map out a plan for success. Just pick one route, one method, doesn’t have to be perfect. Try to model this plan off of others who have achieved it.
- Commit to your plan and take action. Go for a walk, sign up for classes, tell friends, block off time in your schedule. Prioritise and cut out the distractions.
- Fucking jump. Just do it. Take some risks and have faith.
- Deal with difficulty and crisis. It will happen but just breathe, it’s no big deal. You will survive, just try and smile.
- Boom you have made it. Smile and remember where you started. Be grateful for all you have achieved.
“It is one of the great jokes of existence. When people take the courage to journey into the center of their fear, they find – nothing. It was only many layers of fear, being afraid of itself.”
I can’t guarantee that you will succeed. I am sure there are more people who want to be Brad Pitt than there is room for in Hollywood. But what I can guarantee you is that you will be infinitely better off having tried for your dream than staying at home. Your dream might change, you might change, who knows, but you will have a much more interesting and rewarding life once you get some skin in the game. Have faith in the universe and know that if you do the right things, and cultivate the right mindset, you will succeed. I have never met a positive and driven person who hasn’t been rewarded for it. But don’t forget, it’s all just a big game anyways.
So if you’ve been waiting for a sign, this is it. Fuck your knee, I will see you at the gym.