Getting older can be a pretty heavy feeling, but also a pretty freeing one. It’s almost like the older you get, the less you care about people and their opinions. At least, I hope that’s what it’s like for you. I had a birthday on Monday, a day after the helicopter tragedy in LA on Sunday. Like most of the country, it made me feel heartbroken for the affected families, but it also made me extremely reflective. I became painfully aware of the luxury I have of reflecting on my life up to this point, and I really had to take stock of who I am as a person, and what legacy I would want to leave behind. So often, I realized that there were moves I didn’t make, opportunities I didn’t take, not because I didn’t want to, but because I was afraid of what other people would think. On the flip side, when I did take a risk, if it didn’t land me in a better position, it gave me a valuable lesson about myself and the world around me – and THAT ultimately helped me grow as an individual. But what about all of the times I stayed wrapped up in my cocoon of comfort? Where would I be if I had just put one foot in front of the other and kept moving forward?
In my first post of the new year, I talked about some steps you can take to establish a daily practice that can help you be more reflective and self-aware. Let’s say you listened to me and you’re doing that – but what comes next? I’d argue that the next step would be to start taking risks, or, per this common saying – put your money where your mouth is. Reflection is a great exercise, but it can lead to a lot of lip service and inaction. What have you discovered in some of the thoughts you’ve been journaling? What is standing out as something that you NEED to do? Better yet, what are you afraid to start, and what obstacles are preventing you from starting it?
I’ll give you some of my obstacles: mindless Instagram scrolling, Google search distractions, notifications on my phone that need to be looked at RIGHT NOW. Even when I’ve made up my mind to get something going, those top three things are wonderful at siphoning all of my time away, and before I know it, it’s 11 o’clock at night and I’m tired. Maybe your obstacles are a little more daunting: you don’t have the money to get started, you don’t have the time, you don’t know how to start. When I don’t know where to start, I start researching and thinking about someone who did know how to start. No idea in this world is new; it’s just that someone else knew how to market it better. Your first step then, is to find someone who has done something similar, and figure out how to emulate that process, but with your own personal flair and creativity. When I started this blog years ago, I didn’t know how to blog, I didn’t know how to format it, I didn’t know how to promote it. What I did know though, was that I had read blogs and could figure out how they were all doing it.
Time and money are a little bit tougher, especially if you have a limited amount of each. When you’re working on your craft or a project that’s important to you, there is probably at least 30 minutes in a day for you to put towards making it better. Some of you may have heard about the 10,000 hours rule by Malcolm Gladwell, made famous in his book, Outliers. The essential idea is that if you put in 20 hours a week for ten years, or 10,000 hours, you’ll become an expert at whatever it is that you’re doing. I used 30 minutes a day, but if we use this rule, that actually equates to roughly about 3 hours a day. Sounds impossible, right? You’re thinking, “Who the hell has 3 extra hours a day? I barely have time to sleep!”. I think it’s a great rule to follow, but I also factor in the actual work that’s put in. If I’m putting in half-assed effort for 3 hours a day, it’s pointless. If I put in 30 minutes of focused, hard work, I will make progress. The ultimate goal is to make progress, and the better you get, the more efficient you’ll be, and eventually, you’ll be able to invest that 3 hours daily. You have to start SOMEWHERE.
Money is probably the toughest one in this equation, but there is some hustle in you that can figure some aspect of this out. It will just take a lot of creativity. If you need supplies for something, search the Buy Nothing Facebook groups to see what people are giving away. If you need someone to teach you how to do something but you can’t afford the education, join a Meetup group with like-minded people (i.e., photography, crafts, writing, etc.). There are so many free resources, you just have to be intentional in finding them. Nothing is impossible. If a 7-year-old kid can make millions by reviewing toys on YouTube, you can achieve your goals too.
To be clear: I write these things to share with you, but also to hold myself accountable. I fall into the same trap of being paralyzed by fear and anxiety of people’s opinions. Getting a year older has helped me to realize that those same people aren’t living my life for me, and they’re not building a legacy for myself and my family. You have to do what keeps you moving forward, so start pedaling.