The Defining Choice To Reach Our Long-Term Goals
Have you noticed how, when looking at nature, nothing ever seems to change until, suddenly, everything does?
A dirt field transforms into beautiful green scenery, not from one day to the next, with a rushed paced to get it done, but does so at exactly the right pace, the one mother nature has set for it.
A single blade of grass doesn’t worry about its growth rate, whether or not it’s falling behind the others, or even if it is going to live another day. Quite simply, it just grows.
A beautiful process, that over the course of a few weeks, completely changes the scenery we’re admiring. An ever-lasting process of change.
A process that we humans have a hard time coming to terms with.
The Dilemma of Choice
While we can admire and marvel in the patience of nature, with all the beautiful results it brings, we seem to have an extraordinarily difficult time allowing for the same to happen with us.
Blessed with a brain that is conscious of itself, giving us, to a certain extent, freedom from our own impulses, an ability that no other species is fortunate to have, it also drags along with it a much bigger existential issue. That is, which direction to grow towards.
With seemingly infinite potential, and an ever-growing catalog of journeys to embark on, how can we ever decide on one and commit to it? After all, the grass we mentioned before can follow nature’s pace since its only option is to do so. But for us? Well, we are confronted with the double-edged sword that is to be able to choose our own path.
On the one hand, we have the option of slightly dipping our toes into a wide variety of oceans, all with exciting journeys towards the valuable treasures they hide at the deeper parts of it. We can dream about how exciting those treasures must be, how the exciting journey would develop, and how proud we feel for completing it.
A potentially never-ending option due to the nature of the vast number of “oceans” that exist for us to try.
On the other hand, lies the journey of diving deeper into one of these oceans, fully committed to the process, ready to overcome the inevitable obstacles of the deep waters we’ve decided to face. A brave choice that few follow through till the end.
The ones that do though, are those we uphold to the highest degree of admiration. From athletes to entrepreneurs, to writers and actors, all of the ones on top have been mastering their craft for longer than anyone cares to remember, after all, the highlights are what we admire.
No one seems to ever mention the slow-grind it took to get there. The hundreds of hours “bleeding” at a typewriter until closing a book deal, the years of failed auditions until landing a role in a major movie, in essence, the ugly moments that led to eventual “success”.
Here’s the thing though, without overcoming these obstacles, diving into just one pursuit, it becomes impossible to reach the rewards at the end of any of them. Without full commitment, it becomes easier to come back to the surface at the sign of struggle than to try to keep going despite it.
Unlike in our dreams, adversity will arrive, and accompanying it is an almost irresistible offer for us to take.
How We Trick Ourselves
This offer isn’t one easy to spot if we aren’t paying attention. It is subtle and the way it tricks us is by offering a very tempting, easy step to take.
On the one hand, you can keep trying to dive deeper into the ocean you first chose, struggling through the pressure and ever-growing obstacles. On the other, you can take this offer, that is, to resurface and go try the shallow parts of another ocean. You’re not quitting, just trying new things.
If you take this bait, be ready for the pull of the hook that comes with it, because it will come, usually, when it is fully sunk into your cheek and it is already too late.
Soon after you may find yourself slowly lose interest in the previous pursuit, growing tired of activities that once filled you with joy, now seeing this same feeling resurface in your new pursuit.
It is at this point that most of us quit our previous endeavor in exchange for the new one. We allow for the potential of immense long-term gain to be sacrificed for short-term excitement, with it, reinforcing the cycle of never committing.
“Wait for a second”— you may be thinking to yourself — “does this mean I have to commit to the first thing I choose then? Can’t I try new things?”
Far from me to upset you: of course, you can try new things.
As someone who tried more pursuits than he can count, I recognize that I had to go through this process of trying a bunch of different things to realize the conclusion I’m sharing with you today. Without feeling the need for commitment in my life, in first-person, I would have never decided that I had to do it.
Where Does This Lead Us?
“So I need to commit, but then I have to do the opposite of it by trying new things to figure out what to commit to. So how do I know what to commit to?”
A question that one of my clients once left me in a very uncomfortable position with, that in my opinion, only has one answer…
You will never know for certain.
There will always be multiple baits around you, that, with the more obstacles that appear in your way, the more you’ll question whether or not you should bite them. There will always be a million and one different things for you to try, all holding incredible treasures at its depths.
Despite this, the fact that there will always be more exciting things to do, once you find one that you are passionate about, one that you find meaning in, you are doing a disservice to yourself by not committing.
By keeping every door open you are allowing the possibility for them all to close one day without you ever fully entering one.
As Benjamin Franklin once said:
“You may delay, but time will not.”
With every second that passes you are one second closer to your final breath, one second closer to the day when you can no longer pursue what gives meaning to your life.
As such, as I see it, we owe it to ourselves to close all opportunity doors but one, allowing us to give ourselves the gift of fulfilling our potential in something we truly value.
Giving ourselves the chance to reach the end of this journey with a sense of fulfillment, a feeling that I believe can only be found, whether in our work, relationships, and spirituality, through a commitment to what is meaningful to us.
Without committing, eventually, life will shut all doors of opportunity to us. By doing the opposite, we get to keep one open.
Choose wisely, choose in time.
How To Stop Failing With Yourself
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