Living a good life; a contented life, means expanding yourself and moving towards the edges of your potential. Far too many people get stuck because they use their present circumstances as the framework for their potential, for what is possible. They define themselves by where they are right now, rather than where they want to go.
Where Do You Want to Go?
I have often spoken to people in my life who say things like, “I am not creative,” or “I’ve never been athletic,” or “I can’t write.” I’m sure you’ve heard people make similar statements; these definitive ideas about what they can or cannot do. And honestly, I find it sad every time I hear people put a ceiling on their potential.
The questions you need to ask yourself are : What am interested in? What do I care about? What talents do I want to possess? And rather than start from where you are, begin with the end in mind and then learn the skills you need to arrive there. Simply do what needs to be done to attain the goal.
When you get into your car you have a destination in mind. You are told you have a meeting at a specific location, what do you do? Do you contemplate every road you need to take? Do you worry about traffic or your car breaking down? No, you get in your car and go. You find your way to your destination. You react to the bumps and flow of the road and traffic. You adapt as you go. If there’s an accident you either wait in the traffic or you find a detour.
You simply figure out the best path while you are on the journey. Apply the same philosophy to your life — choose your destination and then go; constantly adapting on the way there.
You must start with the end in mind and work backwards. You have to stop focusing on what you know right now and instead, acquire the skills or knowledge that you know will eventually lead you to your destination. Where you are and what you know is always limited. You have to reach beyond your abilities in order to get somewhere else; to a better place.
Remember, that your best ideas have you brought you to where you are today. If you are unhappy then it would make sense to seek out new ideas because what you know isn’t going to get you to a better tomorrow. Personally, I always immerse myself in new ideas whenever I embark on a new journey. I’m aware of my ignorance; not specifically, generally. We never know what we don’t know, but I am aware of the fact that there are things I don’t know so it’s in my own best interest to find out what they are by learning from the mistakes and advice of others.
I learned this lesson the hard way at two different points in my life; one when I went through bankruptcy and another time when I was unemployed and broke, relying on the help of my girlfriend. I have fallen down hard. And sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to wake up.
My current dream is to make my own films — to write and direct my own movies. At 46 this seems ridiculous on many levels. Who am I to think I can do this now; this late in life? Well, I have been passionate about film and performance since I was a child, but for whatever reason, I never pursued it. I didn’t have the support I needed as a child and/or the guidance to help me make that decision. I didn’t believe it was something I could do for a living as a child and I didn’t have anybody around me who nurtured my interest in film, so it never happened.
But now, I have much to say and I will find a way to make my dream happen. As I’ve already told you, I started at the end — “I want to make films, I have things I want to say, stories to tell.” Now, how do I get there? What do I need to know in order to make this dream a reality? Dreams require action. There’s no point in having a goal unless you make plans to fulfill the goal. Talk and theory is a waste of time without tangible action behind it.
My advice is to stop thinking about what you want to do. Refrain from using your current position, knowledge and circumstances as the boundaries of what’s possible. And instead, look within and think deeply about what you care about and what you want to do in the world. Start with the end, and from there figure out the steps to reach your destination.
It doesn’t matter how you feel about the steps to get there. I don’t care if they are hard or if you don’t want to do them. If your end goal is sincere and something you truly care about then you simply do what you need to do, regardless of how you feel about it.
Look at this another way, imagine that you are dying: What do you wish you did with your life? What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered? In the end, we become the things we leave behind and the memories others have of us. Eventually we all turn to dust so while you’re still breathing on this planet, what makes you feel the most alive? How do you want to use your talent and ambition?
Do something good with the life you have because one day you won’t have it anymore. I say, dare to be great at something you love. Far too many people waste their potential on things that do not matter. We live in a distracted world, where people are constantly enamored by their smartphones, video games and digital gadgets. We’ve come to accept this as part of our culture, but I say you ignore the digital noise and tune in to the beat of your heart instead. Focus your energy on what matters most. Build a legacy you can be proud of.
Start at the end and reach beyond your grasp. Every single day needs to move you towards the life you want. If you are already living that life, then congratulations. You have no need to read this. The truest guide I’ve ever known are my emotions. Only you know if you are genuinely fulfilled or not. Personally, I have so much I want to do in the world and I feel the weight of time pressing down on me. But, I’ve been close to death a couple times so I understand the impermanence of everything.
You know what you want to do. I know you do. Just begin…