The whirl of life and doing what you want

My life has whirled in so many directions over the past fortnight.  Up, down, left, right, high, low, upside down, inside out.

(That’s before you even include the election madness that’s been going on.)

I’ve been all over the place…mainly in a good way.

And that’s how it should be.

How can you be inspired by the world around you if you don’t experience it?  How would you aspire to greater things if you didn’t seek out new opportunity and step outside your comfort zone?

A number of issues stop you from doing exactly what you want:

  • External rules;
  • Supposed rules;
  • Self-imposed rules;
  • Fear;
  • Peer/Family expectations;
  • Time factors;
  • Your current situation and limitations.

photo by Ed.ward

photo by Ed.ward

Rules

The only rules that should set you back in any major way are legal ones.  Most laws are perfectly reasonable, so I’ll skip over the not so reasonable laws and case studies.

Other rules may change the level of success you achieve, but you can’t tell the future.  There’s no way to tell whether rules are helpful or there to be broken.

Great artists, musicians, composers, scientists, explorers, thinkers, and writers have deliberately broken established rules again and again in order to create and discover new things. Discovery often comes from disproving what was believed in the past.  Discovery also comes from seeking new ways of doing something.  If everything followed one course, there would be no need to break rules and we would never encounter anything new.

Fear

What about fear?  Fear is a relation of perfection.  Stepping into the unknown is one of the biggest steps to take.  Subsequent moves are not covered with so much darkness.

As with perfection, you don’t want to get things wrong.  Fear stops you from doing something wrong in the darkness.

A side effect of fear is that you do nothing right in the darkness either.  You do nothing at all.

Some fear isn’t worth fearing and it’s easy to get the odds wrong.  Is it time you took that risk?

Expectations

There there are expectations.  All of us have an opinion.  Would I do things differently to you?  Probably.  Not necessarily because I think you’re wrong, but because we all do things differently.  You would likely do things differently to me too.

It’s one thing to seek advice, but it’s another thing to feel a block after hearing advice that goes against what you had planned to do.  Eye-opening advice is fair game, but feeling pressure to do what someone else says is pointless.  There’s no use feeling guilty that you aren’t following a suggestion unless you were totally persuaded by it.

Time

As for time factors, I’ve covered time in depth in the past with my Make Time for Time series.  I also recommend Cal Newport’s articles on the Radical Simplicity Manifesto and becoming a Zen Valedictorian.  Time isn’t always on your side, but you have more power to control it and more time at your disposal than you realise.

Your current situation

The last block is that of your current situation.  It’s one of the few factors that can scupper those otherwise wonderful plans.  But you have two tools at your command:

  1. Compromise;
  2. Change.

In a relationship, both sides need to show an element of compromise.  Same with most things that don’t solely affect you.  If the other side is unwilling to budge, you must decide whether to accept it, seek an alternative way around the problem, or use the second tool of change.

What if you are unwilling to budge? Accept that not everything is possible.  You have to forego something until you’re happy to make that change.

Change is more easily said than done.  That all-important second tool is freely at your disposal, yet is such a deceptive beast.

Tools don’t usually do the job for you.  Same with using change.  The most proficient and skilled of users show off their achievements while you watch in awe.  Until you begin mastering change, you won’t be able to use it to full advantage.

Annoyingly, change doesn’t come with instructions and everyone tends to use it somewhat differently.  However, effective change begins when you ask how important your plans are compared to your current circumstances.  When those new plans feel more important and give you more drive, change becomes a lot easier to control.

Rules to break

I’ll conclude with some rules:

  • Most rules can (and often should) be broken;
  • Not all rules are strictly rules, except in your head;
  • Fear is sometimes necessary, but must be conquered, ready for you to encounter the next fear;
  • Place greatest importance on your own expectations;
  • Don’t knock yourself down if expectations don’t work out as you wished;
  • Develop your relationship with time. Only stop developing that relationship when time stops…Time hasn’t stopped yet;
  • Be prepared to change your situation.

The last two weeks may have been different for me, but I don’t view it as a bad thing.  You know what’s funny?  Through all my new encounters, I found even more inspiration toward the things I’m already engaged with and passionate about.  You can be inspired by the strangest (and most simple) of things.

Be on the lookout for inspiration everywhere you go and in everything you do.  May the whirl of activity never end.