Say No To Other People. Say No To Fear.
Yesterday was a Monday. Well, actually, today is Monday. But when I wrote this last week, yesterday was a Monday. Clear? Good :-)
Regardless of what day it was, it was a very boring day.
It was a day that, in all honesty, made me question three specific things about my life:
- Why do we live in a place where it snows (and is cold, for me, 9 months out of the year)?
- (as a follow-up: do people actually enjoy snow?)
- Why did I stop chasing my dream of being a pilot way back when I was 21?
- Why have I pursued other “interests” but writing I have not?
All three (I’m excluding the follow-up question about snow, but I do want to know) share the same answer:
Emotions, and Other People. (I won’t use it anywhere else in this post, but EOP is the fancy acronym…tl;dr: do not use EOP when making decisions).
That is what I have allowed to influence and control my life.
Emotions, and Other People.
And a really interesting thing I realized is that my wife and I reached this conclusion simultaneously. I did not talk to her, and she did not talk to me. But, one day a few weeks ago, we basically looked at each other in silence. Then said in unison, “what the hell were we thinking?”
We weren’t. I wasn’t. And that’s part of the problem.
A lack of thought. Critical thought. Thought that goes past today, and instead looks at into the realistic future.
This decision that is before me, how will it impact me in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?
I was so focused on the present, on the immediate future, that I tossed all of my opinions, thoughts, concerns, objections, and goals out of the window.
Focusing on the present combined with the influence of Other People is a terrible mindset, and an extremely dangerous cocktail. Not to mention, very expensive.
This type of mindset leads to decision making based on emotion and/or blind trust.
An emotional situation should not be corrected with an emotional decision.
My emotions are really why I have made some terrible decisions in the past. Emotions, and the fear of other people’s opinion of me. Or, put another way, my desire to keep those around me, and close to me, happy (an emotion).
- Go to college (two times, and quit…both times)
- Stop writing so that I can…
- …get a “safe and secure” job
- Buy a house
In all of these areas, yes, including the house, I listened to my Emotions and Other People more than I listened to myself. And I certainly have lost myself after doing this for so many years.
(“Lost myself” seems so…1960’s. And I do not know anything about the 60’s. I guess I associate that with the hippie movement…? Anyways, I still think it applies.)
I have forgotten who I am. What I want. What I believe.
Now, thankfully, I am realizing this after ten years instead of twenty or thirty. I still have time (as much as God will give me) to begin living my adult life based on what I want, what my family wants, and what I believe.
Now, all of that being said, all is not lost.
Looking at the future, as logically and unemotionally as possible, I have dreams and goals based on my family (instead of based solely on me), and I have plenty of “material” to use in my writing (based on the decisions of my past). These are things I would not have otherwise — these are the benefits to all of my questionable decisions. This is the positive way to look at things, otherwise it is all rather depressing.
So, what is the point? Since I’m writing this to publish, what is the thing that you, the lucky reader who has made it this far in my ramblings, can take away and apply to your own life?
1. Stop making decisions based on your emotions and the opinions of other people
Well, for one, stop making decisions based on your emotions and the opinions of other people. Start making decisions based on logic, fact, and the immediate circle of people who will be impacted by your decision (i.e. your spouse, kids, and any pets you take care of).
2. Be Honest With Yourself
Be honest with yourself. We all screw up. We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. The important thing, in my opinion, is to be honest with yourself about all of this. Recognize things for what they are. Reflect on things to pull out any lessons learned. Figure out how to avoid the same mistake(s) in the future. Understand what happened and why so that you can explain it to someone else down the road. You never know how your life, and the experiences you have had in the past, will change the life of someone else in the future.
3. Don’t Kick Yourself Too Hard
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Lindsay says I am too hard on myself. I know this. I am. I put a lot of pressure on myself because of how much I have not achieved in my life, and how much work I have to do in order to correct my mistakes.
I should not do this.
There are a few exceptions, but there are only a handful of mistakes that are permanent and irreversable. It may take time to move forward and fix things, maybe more than you can fathom right now (in which case your emotions are beginning to kick in), but things can always be improved, and can always be made better.
Personally, I have points one and two down, and hopefully they stick. Number three is where I am currently struggling. I want to have a future of writing and traveling with my family. That’s it. But making that a reality is going to be…interesting. There are plenty of unknowns, road blocks (real and imagined), and doubts. But, fear of the unknown is not a good reason to stay put. Which makes me want to write out one more point for you…
4. Don’t Let Fear Stop You
Finally, don’t let fear stop you. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what might happen. Fear of opinions. Fear of failure. Fear of more mistakes. You can’t let any of that stand in your way. You must try. Whatever it is, you must try.