If This Doesn’t Scare You, You Aren’t Reading Close Enough

My goal this week has been to do things that scares me as often as possible. It was a goal brought about by an exchange with a virtual stranger on Facebook- I guess you can never tell where inspiration might strike. It started out innocently enough with my giving a cheer to a shared post from Upworthy that had a quote from Mark Twain in it; the quote goes like this:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw of the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade minds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

So a friend shared this post from Upworthy, who really shared it from another source, and then a friend of this friend commented on the post- you follow me?- and then my mind was reeling from the friend of the friend’s comment. Blew me away doesn’t cover it.

The quote by Mark Twain is one I had heard many years ago. It is a good one, and  great one to live your life by. I highly recommend it. I have discovered that not only is it entirely and utterly true, but it is unbelievably freeing and liberating to live life in this manner. So how does one improve upon that way of life? How does a single person -unknown to me- make a casual comment that blows this quote out of the water? What did someone say on Facebook that was actually useful and not negative? What indeed. I am still mulling over the comment and it has been two days. For the sake of privacy I will not call out her name -she probably knows who she is anyway- but this person said the following in response to the Mark Twain quote- I’m paraphrasing a touch for effect here:

Ask yourself this question: If you keep doing things in your life the same way as you are today, what will that look like in 5 years? and more importantly, are you okay with that?

Is your mind blown yet?? Seriously, think about it for a moment. We all have dreams and goals etc. that we are either truly working toward, think we are working toward, or just hope will miraculously happen without us working toward them, but honestly, if you kept doing exactly what you are doing, where would you be? Will you have obtained ANY of those goals? Will anything about you be different? Will anything about your life be different? I don’t know about  you, but I had never thought about life in quiet this way, and while I clearly have adopted the view that living in the NOW can lead to inner peace, clearly there is value in looking forward and realizing that your life may be exactly the same in 5 years as it is right now.

So unless you are Beyoncé, who probably wouldn’t mind a bit if she is still rich and relevant, happily married with a beautiful daughter in 5 years, YOU probably don’t want to be exactly where you are right now in 5 years. Even if you are happy. Even if you have a great job. Even if your family life is wonderful. I highly suspect we all can think of variations of our future we would enjoy more, variables we would like to change. Dreams we would like to chase. So I ask you, if you continue down the path you are on, doing what you have always done, will you be where you want to be in 5 years? I can give you a hint here, you know based in logic and all that silly nonsense… you will likely be almost exactly where you are now.

Okay, so you will be 5 years older, possibly fatter, maybe you will have lost some hair. You might have moved to a new home or your children will clearly get older and their interests will change- meaning trips to karate instead of soccer perhaps- but in the end you will still be you, working the same type of job most likely, living in generally the same area, with the same friends, just mindlessly stumbling through life because I guess it isn’t bad enough for you to do something different, or you don’t know what to do different, or you are convinced that no matter what you do things can’t be different.

I have discovered the secret to ensuring that my life in 5 years will look markedly different. When I ask myself if I continue doing what I am doing, will I like what I see in 5 years, the answer is unequivocally a no. I really don’t think so. I think that is the whole key behind intentional living. If you are living intentionally working toward your own identifiers you can’t possibly be unhappy with the you of tomorrow because you will have reached some of your goals by ding things differently than you are right now. Have I lost you yet? If you just plod along numbly doing what you have always done day in and day out then 5 years from now you are likely to be right where you are today. If you are living intentionally that is probably not good enough for you.

I think the best way to honor yourself and both quotes above is to do something that scares you. Because, if it scares you then you likely aren’t doing it already; and changing your routine in anyway will change the you of tomorrow. Plus, doing something that scares you usually means you are rising to a new challenge, sticking your neck out there, or are willing to take a leap of faith. All things if done regularly, usually, lead to a better life and increased opportunity. Why? Because they allow you to be primed and situated for the opportunities you are hoping for to come your way.  Even if you can’t create the opportunities, you can create an environment where the opportunities would want to live.

And all you have to do is take a risk, do something scary, and be true to yourself. If I continue doing what I am doing right now- my job, my daily life, my hectic pace, my limited time with my husband- I highly suspect I will not like what I see in 5 years. I will probably feel stifled and underappreciated at a job that isn’t my dream. I will probably resent my children because I have remained in this job because I am afraid of losing the good income and great health insurance that having children sort of necessitate (not their fault mind you, but resentment is usually not logical). I might resent my husband for never being home or having time to help with the daily crap of life. It isn’t a given, but if nothing changes in my life, I can easily see it.

I started this blog because I absolutely wanted to change my life. I wanted to find a better way to live. I suppose if scaring the crap out of myself will help me meet that goal, then so be it. I will do it and happily so. So this week I took a chance and applied for a job at Upworthy. It isn’t exactly my dream job, but it is a step in that direction, working for a company I know I would be excited about and proud to tell others about. Applying was scary enough, they didn’t exactly have a job opening for “Enthusiastic Chronic Underachiever”, but writing them an open letter here on the blog for all to see most certainly was scary. What if they didn’t like it? What if the readers didn’t like it? What if you didn’t like it? What if my husband asks me “What is Upworthy?” (true story) It was hard to put myself out there open to judgment and possibly ridicule. But I did it. because if I don’t ever do anything scary, then I will just continue to be a girl with a dream that never comes true. And the me of 5 years from now already judges her. And I can’t have that, now can I?


What I’m reading: Seconds by David Ely. I just finished it. I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t recommend I, but I am curious about the movie made from it in 1966 with Rock Hudson. Hm…

What I’m listening to: Frank Turner, If I Ever Stray. I highly suspect if he didn’t have an accent I wouldn’t like being yelled at so much. I wonder if British people think they’d like him better if he only had that Yankee accent?

Now Moment of the week: Riding the water slides at the indoor water park with my son. As I went all to fast down the big one he isn’t allowed on- because daddy forced me too to show my sons how easy it was- I actually experienced this moment of irrational fear. The slide is not that long, steep, or fast, so why was I actually scared? It felt great to get to the bottom. Was that because I was alive? Vindicated? or it was over? I must ride the slide again until I stop having an involuntary adrenaline rush- or for the rush- why can’t I understand this? Grrr…

Inspirations from the ether: 5 Regrets of the Dying. Don’t wait until you are dying to solve these. Make your regrets upon dying that you have no more life to live, period.