Surprise!

(I’ve been talking a lot about goal-achievement lately.  Seems that’s all you can talk about when you have goals that you’re trying to realize.  It’s like when you’ve decided what sort of new car you’re going to buy and then you can’t stop seeing that particular car on the road everywhere.  Anyway, here’s another goal-related post.)

Yesterday I went to a surprise 30th birthday party for one of my closest friends from high school.  Her younger brother organized the whole thing and got together a bunch of folks, some of whom hadn’t seen each other for ten years.  My friend was very surprised and the party went off without a hitch. 

I, too, recently turned thirty and got my share of surprises.

As I neared the day, it was like, ‘Surprise! You are seven years older than when you finished university and you have been treading water ever since’.  

It was like, ‘Surprise!  When you see people you haven’t seen since high school you have nothing new to say because you’ve done nothing with your life’. 

It was like, ‘Surprise!  Where has the time gone?’.

When you’re comfortable-but-not-happy, the time passes while you’re stuck in the daily grind.  I knew the way I was working, where I was working, was not going to not fulfill me day-to-day, let alone for a lifetime.  Sure, having a steady paycheque was great, but it wasn’t going to get me out of bed in the morning.  My chorus of idiots helped me along, ” It’s a bad job market, you’re lucky to have anything, not everyone can have a career that they love, at least you like the other stuff that you have going on”.

I was so painfully afraid of taking a risk that I declared myself happy enough with the way things are.

At the time, I was reading Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week, and in the book he talks about dream-lining – identifying your ideal life and mapping out how you’re going to get there.  There is a big part of this process dedicated to defining your fear.  The short story is that you are almost always giving up more permanent, more pervasive happiness for temporary, conquerable fear.  Read the book,  it’s a great kick in the pants.

We’re all afraid of something.  We’re bogged down in feeling sorry for ourselves because we’re not young enough or smart enough or rich enough or fit enough or courageous enough to just get on with whatever it is that we’re afraid of.

I could rehash Mark Fisher‘s post about getting past your fitness fears, but he says everything I want to say, with WAY more colourful (read: NSFW) language and unicorns than I ever could.  READ THIS.  Go on, I’ll wait.

We need fear.   Sometimes it keeps us from doing stupid things.  Fear shouldn’t keep us from doing amazing things.  When you can identify your fear for what it is, you take away its power.  Assign a value to the thing that your fear is keeping you from.  Is the potential disaster that you fear greater and more permanent than the potential value of taking that risk?  Likely not.

Once you acknowledge that you are afraid, and just f@#$ing do it anyway, you’ll be like, ‘Surprise! I had the tools I needed to be awesome all along!’.

Thirty was the deadline I needed to take control of my life.  Thirty is the year that I take that career into my own hands and try to make something of myself.  I am terrified, but thirty is the year that fear doesn’t stop me.  Thirty is the year that I have lots of new things to say to people I haven’t seen since high school.

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