“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
– Steve Jobs
Fear is the number one killer of ideas, passions and dreams. It blows my mind how many of us are willing to sit back and let fear trap us in a mediocre life that doesn’t serve us. I guess the truth is, it’s not entirely our fault. The way I see it is this: we grow up in a society where at age five we’re sent off to school, quickly told what to wear and how to wear it, given a safe set of rules to follow, told how to sit in a straight line, taught how to fill in the blanks, recite after the teacher, and finally we become ‘masters of memory’.
Twelve years pass and we are swiftly guided into the higher education system (aka university) where, as young as seventeen, we are encouraged to choose a career for the rest of our lives. We spend 4 – 8 years sacrificing family occasions, social events and any sort of creative outlet so that we can spend every waking hour studying the truth of others. If we follow the rules, turn up on time and answer correctly we graduate the system as an upstanding citizen who is more likely to get a job. Well, so we’re told. Reality is our university bubble gets popped and we’re thrown in the deep end with no real-world experience, ability to think for ourself or any idea what we’re truly passionate about.
If we’re ‘lucky’ we land ourself a job that will tell us exactly how much we’re worth per hour, despite slaving away for years. The system starts us at the bottom, where we belong. We won’t be given any creative license, or say for that matter. We will turn up at 9am and be released at 5pm on a good day. Chances are, we’ll be in transit for an hour to get to our home, or to the nearest person that gives a shit about us. We’ll have a shower, eat a meal, socialise for an hour or two and make sure we’re in bed by a reasonable hour to do it all again tomorrow.
After 5 days of this we’ll finally arrive at ‘Fri-YAY’. We count down the hours to spend time with people we actually care about, and who care about us. We’ll cherish a sleep-in, a chance to activate the right side of our brain, and the freedom to not have answer to anyone. After 48 weeks of this on repeat, we’ll fill out a form that seeks permission for us to spend 4 whole weeks to ourself, for ourself, doing what we really want to be doing. It may be ‘approved’, it may not. But we won’t argue the decision because we need the money.
If we keep up the good work in ten years time we’ll run ourself into the ground enough to earn a few extra weeks of ‘long service leave’. We may finally have time to do what we really love.
From age five we are primed to follow the correct path of life… and this is how we end up.
My guess is that millions of people in the world dream of doing what they really love, but somewhere along the line were told NO – it’s too scary, it doesn’t pay well, it won’t work, it can’t be done… and as a result people are trapped by fear.
Fear of failing.
Fear of breaking the mould.
Fear of being different.
Here’s the truth, and this is what you should have heard from your parents, from your year one teacher and from every one in your life:
IT CAN BE DONE!
You really can do it.
The truth is, failure is everywhere. We can’t escape it. Not in our 9 – 5 job, or studying a thesis, or raising children. We will fail. But it doesn’t have to stop there. We’ve got to get ourselves back up, dust ourselves off, try again and keep going.
DO NOT take no for an answer, design the career of your dreams and use this one life of yours to do and be everything you’ve always wanted to be.