Yesterday I posted some steps I took towards my goal of making it to the CrossFit Games. Although I didn’t make it to the Games, I learned along the way. Today, I am writing about how I made the actual decision to pursue that goal. This was not something that happened overnight. It was challenging to make a decision that I knew could affect the trajectory of my life. There are many unknowns and it is sometimes ‘safer’ to do nothing. Looking back now, I know it was the best decision I could have made and I shouldn’t have analyzed it as much as I did. Below are some things I did that made the picture clearer and helped me decide to take the next step.
Write A Personal Mission Statement
I wrote down my values, what I wanted my life to stand for, and how I wanted to live. This was my foundation. It identified what was important to me and where I would not compromise. This laid the groundwork for future decisions and allowed me to evaluate actions and how they aligned with my personal mission.
Write Your Own Eulogy
This exercise calls for you to write a eulogy for your own funeral. How will you be remembered? What is your legacy? What impression or impact did you make on others?
Although I did not perform this exact exercise, I did something similar to it. I visualized myself in 40, 50, or 60 years reflecting back on my life. Did I have any regrets? Which path did I follow? Would I have done it differently? I realized that the decision to leave school was a risk, but if I did not give it a chance I would always ask: what if?
This exercise was eye opening. First, it allowed me to appreciate the significance of how few years we have to live. We only get one opportunity. It is so easy to get caught in a routine or wake up one day and realize we just spent the last decade doing something that had no meaning to us. Second, by visualizing my future, I gained a greater perspective on creating my own ‘journey’ and focusing less on the ‘destination’ and how others may view my path.
Worst Case Scenario
For me, this may have been the most powerful exercise. Write down the worst possible outcome of your decision. For example, if you leave your job and start your own business what is the worst thing that could happen? By identifying the bottom you do two things: first, you make yourself aware of what could happen and provide context to that scenario. Second, you will likely come to realize that the worst-case scenario isn’t THAT bad. For me, if I failed miserably in my new pursuit the absolute worst that I could come up with was that I would be jobless and probably insecure and move back with my parents. But I was still alive, I head a roof over my head, and I had food to eat. Knowing that is the bottom was pretty empowering and let me feel more comfortable with my decision.
For those of us who are changing paths or thinking about a pursuit separate of what we do now, the worst-case scenario is very unlikely. If you are truly passionate about what you are doing, you will find a way. It will require hard work and patience, but success will come.
Self-Awareness: Am I Convincing Myself To Stay?
If you are rationalizing your current job or path and continually convincing yourself that it will get better, this is a red flag. You should not need to motivate yourself to go to work each day, it should naturally align with your mission.
Listen to your Heart
In the end, your heart already knows what you want to do. The above exercises help remove the outside noise and rationalizations. It is easy to explain why you can’t do something, but once you ‘burn the boats’ and start on that new path you will feel rejuvenated and alive. One last bonus, it is easy to sleep at night knowing that you are doing what you were made to do.