originally published on 4/16/17
‘life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage’ – Anais Nin
As the perennials start poking through the soil, and colorful birds return from a warmer place, we are re-introduced to the Spring season. What a wonderful time of year to consider growth. If there’s one thing that makes me feel alive…it’s growing. And I’m thinking about two specific pieces of that: learning and doing. Much of how we grow is based on these two principals, and each are important in their own way.
We are all constantly learning. However, some of us are taking in much more than others. One can learn by simply sitting and thinking. Actually, one can learn by simply sitting and breathing. Sometimes the thinking can get in way of learning. On top of that, we as individuals get to choose what we learn. What have you chosen?
Over this past winter, I think I learned more than in any chunk of time in my life. By using the internet and my library card, I feel that I’ve taken a 4 month intensive course on a huge variety of topics. Because my business is landscaping, I have a lot of time off in the winter. I use much of this time to study some things I’m interested in. It’s allowed me to spend a lot of time doing exactly what I want to do, and follow my passions by taking an extreme focus on my interests. Although, I feel like a bit of a renaissance man in a sense, in that I have such a wide scope of things that intrigue me. Years ago, it seemed like this was a hindrance in life…and that since I was interested in many different ideas, I’d lose focus on the few that I should follow. Jack of all trades, master of none. However, as time has gone on, a couple of threads have persisted and continue to be present in my life. And on top of that, I feel really confident in casting webs in a bunch of other areas. I don’t want to miss out on something incredible because I didn’t try it. If I see something I like, I’m not afraid to dive right in. I’m always motivated to learn about my passions and seek out information through any way possible.
Actually, I prefer the most efficient way possible. Peter Theil (co-founder of PayPal) asks us to question our efficiency by saying, ‘How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?’ I love this idea! It’s not that you can easily complete everything on your list that fast…but it forces you to question what the most efficient way is to your destination. This can easily apply to things like travel, learning a musical instrument, starting a business, buying a house at the ocean, writing a book, etc. You may have to reassess your current routines and structures in order to achieve these things. But that can be a good thing! In fact, I would say that 90% of us would benefit from some sort of radical change in our lives. Are you willing to be ‘radical’ and take on that risk? Think about a part of your life that is so routine…or monotonous. Get out of it now!
Part of what makes it difficult is that we are trained to do what everyone else is doing. We are taught to melt ourselves down to a common denominator in order to neatly fit the mold that society has created for us. Once we are molded, we’re put on a track. Boys take a left, girls go right, black this way, white that way, gay over here, straight over there, religious down that ramp, agnostic up that ramp, college bound with that crew, others this way. Last week I wrote about how we think (Click here for the post), and touched on how I’ve fallen into a ‘normal’ that just didn’t feel good, but it seemed that everyone else was mostly doing the same. Life is waaaaaay too short for that type of thinking. We get such a small amount of time here. Spend it learning about the things you love!
Now, the other important piece of this is…doing. I was discussing this with a friend the other day, and he advised to not just get caught up in the learning portion of things. You can’t just keep watching and learning what others do. You have to implement it into your own life! If you’ve been meaning to start a blog but haven’t, stop reading so many others, and just get to creating your own. Want to start your own business, and you’ve been reading and researching and watching others succeed? Scale your idea down and start the process this week! Been wanting to learn Spanish for the past 5 years? Spend 10 minutes tomorrow beginning the process and creating an outline for yourself. Don’t let anything seem daunting or intimidating. Remember that once you decide on something…you’ll just put one foot in front of the other, and things will naturally start falling into place. In the words of Emerson, ‘Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.’
Here is a list how I’ve grown in the past couple of years…things I’ve learned about, or done. Hopefully it will help inspire you to try something new!
- quit job
- started landscaping business
- kept bees – harvested honey
- learned guitar
- learned singing/voice
- learned how to keep chickens
- learned organic vegetable gardening – created garden site
- snowboarding – finally cleared a big jump in the terrain park (I’ve been scared to try)
- won a bunch of men’s league basketball championships
- took up road bicycling – competed in race
- took down walls in house – reconfigured stairway
- started a blog
- started a basketball training business
- began meditating daily – practicing mindfulness
- learned a lot about parenting – still an amateur
- started writing a daily journal entry
- brought Matilda to Disney World
- created a new website
- started a podcast
- began writing on Medium.com (a community of thinker, writers, readers)
- started indoor rock climbing
- began an ‘advanced athlete weight training’ program
Now, along with doing a lot of these things…I failed a bunch a long the way. My bank accounts have been extremely low at times. I’ve fallen and hurt myself a bunch on snowboard jumps (only to have teenagers laugh at me). I’ve lost some basketball games, and found injuries there too. In my first bike race, I was destroyed by most of the other riders. I’ve been stung by my bees!
It’s not necessarily an easy road to follow the path that you’ve chosen, and that you’ve just learned. In fact, it’s probably more difficult. I’ve found that in life…the right decision is the one that’s more difficult. The easy way is the regrettable way. This is so true for everything from relationships to work. So why choose the hard way? Because it means you’re living a more passionate lifestyle, which will build your health and happiness…and that of those around you. Because it’s a life that you’ll want to tell your kids about. Because it’s different, and it’s what probably about 1% of people do. Because it’s fun!
If you need a couple ‘doers’ for inspiration…check out Tim Ferriss and/or Casey Neistat. These guys get cool stuff done, and are very inspiring to listen to or watch.
What is your potential in all of the areas of life? Are you learning about and doing the things you want to do?
I’m not living to my full potential in many areas. However, I try to be fully aware of that…and work hard to close the gaps.
I have a long list of things I want to try, places I want to go, and ways I want to grow. And as I check one off, I notice a few more have been added to my list.
Good luck with your list, and I wish you the best! Share your experience here if you’d like.
Music: In lieu of the brothers in the band Dawes, that I recommended on the last post…another pair of brothers that know how to play are The Avett Brothers. Check them out here!
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