A lot happens in a decade of life; you learn new skills, meet new people, and do new things. Your motivations may change, your priorities may change, and many things may stay the same; that’s just the default experience of your average person. However, things tend to differ by a huge margin when we compare passive life-livers to active life-livers.
And don’t get me wrong, people are wired differently, have huge differences in goals, and one person's idea of a fulfilling and rich life may be completely different from another’s. For me personally, the experience of life; trying new things, seeing new things, tasting, touching, exploring, creating, and growing as a person in every domain — that’s what makes life fulfilling, and that’s what makes life worth living. And if you’ve found this article, I’d imagine that you’re the same type of individual.
We tend to set our goals, pursue our interests, get better at what we do, excelling in the usual domains like career, fitness, personal hobbies, and relationships. But what I found interesting is that the amount of progress we make, although huge on paper and huge for those core domains, doesn’t seem amazing for a 10 year period.
Not to downplay achievements and lessons learned, of course not, after all this is 10 years of living, so much may have been done. You may have gotten a couple of degrees, started a business, started a new job, had a child, learned an instrument, gone to countless events, met countless people, excelled in x, y or z… A life well lived indeed. That being said, why do we get the nagging feeling that there was more time wasted than we’re comfortable with?
The truth is, those years, although productive, included so many opportunities that weren’t utilized, so many No’s that easily could have been a Yes, closing doors that were wide open, being indecisive, procrastinating on things you ‘eventually’ want to do and a whole lot of progress resembling mighty skyscrapers, built in your comfort zone, instead of modest houses that might be outside that radius.
And this isn’t to put you in a mood filled with regret, quite the contrary. Regret might not be the best feeling, but it’s just our mind telling us what we should have done and what to do in a similar situation when the time comes. All we have to do is realize similar opportunities in the present and take action.
We love to blame lack of opportunity, money, time, and an abundance of responsibilities for our experiences' hindrances. After all, that’s the reason you haven’t gone on that trip, or taken up dancing lessons, or tried that new painting workshop. Right?
I want you to think back on the last year. As a person who loves racking up experiences and living deliberately, what do you remember?
I don’t know about you, but I remember the new things, the things out of place, and most importantly, I remember the things that I feared, which made me uncomfortable, the things I decided to do anyway.
Your life starts at the end of your comfort zone.
The game's objective is to leave #1 behind, face #2 head-on, and ultimately get to #3.
- Your comfort zone 🍦
- Fear, doubt, and adversity 🌋 🚧 ⛏ 💣
- Things in life worth doing 🌈
If you’ve done it right, #1 and #3 will eventually merge. You’ll eventually become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and that’s when you’ll feel the momentum.
There’s a reason that a year feels like a month after entering the workforce or adopting some form of heavily consistent activity. Every day becomes the same day on repeat with nothing differentiating it. Decades end up feeling like a few years, and a few years feel like a couple of months. It’s a sure-fire way to feel like you’ve wasted your time. Flipping this on its head is an urgent undertaking and very doable; you need to do it.
You absolutely have time in the morning to go to a yoga class; you can 100% fit an interstate road trip at some point in the year, you can make shit happen if you really want it to happen. Your kids, studies, jobs, and age; aren’t a free pass to stop living your life.
It takes us an entire 10 years to have ‘10 years’ worth of amazing experiences because we let insignificant, subconscious fears stop us from trying the most basic new experiences out there. We then justify it by throwing in some of the excuses mentioned above.
- Not joining a class because of that initial embarrassment of being a beginner.
- Saying no to things you haven’t ever tried, things that have little to no downside.
- Avoiding an invitation to a catch-up, meetup, or event because it deviates from your routine.
These are tiny examples. Tiny examples that are true and that have a genuine impact. When you let fear get the best of you with these small experiences, what are you leaving on the table when it comes to life-changing moments? And to be clear, these little things are life-changing moments in disguise.
Starting today, you could live the next month like you’ve lived the last one. Routines are there to get you results after all. But I’d challenge you to break up each week with something you haven’t done before. Yes, it’s a Wednesday night, yes you might have work tomorrow, yes you might need to study. But I can guarantee that if you try something uncomfortable, something out of its place, something that breaks up your week, your routine — you’ll remember it.
You do that one extra but different thing every week for 4 weeks. The month is going to feel well lived, having a fresh breath of air about it.
These don’t have to be huge; they don’t have to be ‘life-changing’ on paper. They need to happen, no matter how small.
When you scale up with this version of thinking, this method of embracing the tiny fears and doubts, your one-year highlight reel goes from 10 minutes to a feature-length film. The only thing that’s left is for you to remember the feeling and make a habit of living this way. So I’ll leave you with a few tips.
You’ve heard it a million times, and here it is again;
- Keep a journal - It doesn’t have to be daily, but filling it out regularly with what you did on the day and how you felt, good or bad, will be an invaluable memento. Not to mention a fantastic way to remember things. A super helpful tip is to keep a ‘lessons learned’ section.
- Write down your fears - When you think about some activity that you want to undertake that you’re feeling internal resistance for, write down a list of fears associated with the activity (no matter how small). Writing them down shows you how insignificant they really are. It’s the first step in overcoming and mitigating them.
- Create, regardless of gain - You might want to build a business, a blog for a living, or make x, y or z. But in our mission to itch our creative scratches for gain, for money, for a living, we forget to create for leisure and for the sake of creating. So take up a painting project even if you are writing and editing that vacation video, even if you’re not a film fanatic. You’ll discover a whole new side to your creativity.
- Listen intently - Everyone has their stories and struggles. There’s always something that a person knows that you don’t. You’ll always be able to gain something from listening.
I hope you enjoy the next year as much as I will,
Best of luck,