Have you ever wondered what rules separate self-sabotagers from confident risk-takers?
Have you ever had an inspired opportunity come your way? One that at the moment gives you shivers of anticipation, thunderbolts of excitement? An opportunity which ultimately, you didn’t act on. Instead, you let it fizzle. Or it was derailed by fear of the unknown.
And now you kick yourself regularly. “If only…”
It’s a common story. And a path I’ve traversed regularly.
In my world, this phenomenon rears its head in small ways. And quite frequently.
Like when I refused an invitation to a weekend of camping and running on a distant mountain range, simply because it felt like a lot of effort. I told myself I was too tired. And then I felt the familiar regret when I saw the photos and heard the tales of fun and adventure subsequently.
Of course, when I initially received the invitation, I was eager, and excited. But as the weekend drew nearer, so did the doubts. Until the outing just wasn’t an option (in my mind) anymore.
What starts as a really GOOD opportunity, slowly gets transformed into 100 reasons as to why it’s NOT a good idea, after all. Yup, as soon as our “thinking machine” kicks in, that once-inspired idea changes shape.
And why? Because, if you’re anything like me, you start to think 50 steps ahead. And in doing so, we start considering what could go wrong. The possible obstacles. How uncomfortable it could be.
We unwittingly FORECAST an endpoint based on a possible worst-case scenario (my favorite).
Which is nothing more than our IMAGINATION making up a story? One based on fear.
Which means it won’t end well. Nothing fear-based ever does.
In this case, it was the discomfort of a sleeping bag. The possible cold. Sharing primitive ablutions. Lack of sleep. The commute. All thoughts of the (possible) aspects I found unappealing.
By this stage, this once-inspired and awesome potential experience, don’t feel that good anymore.
And we can’t really blame it (poor little idea), it didn’t stand a chance. With the power of our thinking, we’ve literally chopped it off at the knees…
So, we toss it aside. And settle back into our mundane comfort-zone. Feeling safe. Ready for “sameness”. Again.
So, how do we overcome this? How can we keep our enthusiasm and excitement buoyant, yet be realistic too?
Is it possible?
I think so…
3 Rules Separating Self-Sabotagers from Confident Risk-Takers
Firstly, we need to understand what’s REALLY going on here:
Factor in Your Growth
As humans, we’re expanding daily. Each day we’re a little more expanded than before.
As we experience life, we grow. We shift. Sometimes quickly, sometimes not so much. We don’t have to try, it’s just what happens. Even if we’re not really trying, we’re constantly evolving.
And that means that next month, next week, even tomorrow, you’ll be an expanded version of yourself. You’ll think differently. Your view of yourself and others will have shifted. What seems scary today may be less frightening tomorrow.
It’s why my favorite outfit from last season simply doesn’t excite me anymore. And why when once I thrived living in the city, I now prefer the comforts of suburbia. I’ve grown.
It also means that when we project ourselves 20 steps ahead, the forecast scenario simply ISN’T TRUE! How can it be?
How do we know how we’ll feel then? Or what will happen?
Quite simply, we don’t.
The ablutions might be surprisingly good. The commute could be fun! And a sleeping-bag has a good chance of being cosy.
It’s time for some ACTION..!
Tap into that feeling of excitement.
Then, WE SIMPLY TAKE THE FIRST STEP.
And focus on that. Entirely.
Feel it. Experience it.
And when we feel inspired, take the NEXT STEP.
Always ONLY consider one step. The next one. The one that feels right.
Because, here’s the truth.
The end point is (mostly) unimportant.
It’s ALWAYS about the experience within the journey. However long it may turn out to be.
And who knows what other opportunities may show themselves along the way. One’s that we simply can’t see (or imagine) from our current position.
Opportunities that could dramatically enhance the experience. Beyond our wildest dreams.
But we’ll never know unless we START.
Interestingly, there was no end-point with the camping trip. It was ALL about the experience. Engaging and enjoying each step along the way would have created the overall experience.
The planning, the trip, setting up camp, the camaraderie and (most importantly), the runs. Each a different experience. Each with the potential for fun!
Just take that first step.
Focus on WHAT YOU LIKE.
If we’re going to use our imagination, why not harness it in a GOOD way.
In the camping example above, I focused almost entirely on the bits I don’t find appealing.
Would my decision have been different, had I imagined more of the aspects I LOVE?
Like the runs through the mountains. The majestic sunrises/sunsets. The communal braais (that’s the South African equivalent of a barbeque). The new friends I could make. Etc. Etc.
It’s this simple: WE CREATE OUR EXPERIENCE.
Through focus. And some understanding.
We’re more powerful than we think.