Friday, January 2, 2015

Day 159...Your Biggest Question Answered...

Welcome to Day 159...

I write a lot in my blog about following your dreams and working hard each day to make them come true.

But what if you're stuck in neutral and the reason being is that you simply don't know what your dream really is?

Well the other day I came across an interesting blog post that posed 7 strange questions to readers.  Questions to help you think and remember - about what is it that gives your life meaning and happiness.

To Mark Manson, the article's author, it's not so much what is our purpose as “What can I do with my time that is important?”

To find that answer, Manson asks a series of questions...strange questions.  Here are the questions and an excerpt of Manson's article... 

"These questions are by no means exhaustive or definitive. In fact, they’re a little bit ridiculous. But I made them that way because discovering purpose in our lives should be something that’s fun and interesting, not a chore.
Ah, yes. The all-important question. What flavor of shit sandwich would you like to eat? Because here’s the sticky little truth about life that they don’t tell you at high school pep rallies:
Everything sucks, some of the time.
Now, that probably sounds incredibly pessimistic of me. And you may be thinking, “Hey Mr. Manson, turn that frown upside down.” But I actually think this is a liberating idea.
Everything involves sacrifice. Everything includes some sort of cost. Nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time. So the question becomes: what struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Ultimately, what determines our ability to stick with something we care about is our ability to handle the rough patches and ride out the inevitable rotten days.
If you want to be a brilliant tech entrepreneur, but you can’t handle failure, then you’re not going to make it far. If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected hundreds, if not thousands of times, then you’re done before you start. If you want to be a hotshot court lawyer, but can’t stand the 80-hour workweeks, then I’ve got bad news for you.
turd-sandwichWhat unpleasant experiences are you able to handle? Are you able to stay up all night coding? Are you able to put off starting a family for 10 years? Are you able to have people laugh you off the stage over and over again until you get it right?
What shit sandwich do you want to eat? Because we all get served one eventually.
Might as well pick one with an olive.
When I was a child, I used to write stories. I used to sit in my room for hours by myself, writing away, about aliens, about superheroes, about great warriors, about my friends and family. Not because I wanted anyone to read it. Not because I wanted to impress my parents or teachers. But for the sheer joy of it.
And then, for some reason, I stopped. And I don’t remember why.
We all have a tendency to lose touch with what we loved as a child. Something about the social pressures of adolescence and professional pressures of young adulthood squeezes the passion out of us. We’re taught that the only reason to do something is if we’re somehow rewarded for it.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I rediscovered how much I loved writing. And it wasn’t until I started my business that I remembered how much I enjoyed building websites — something I did in my early teens, just for fun.
The funny thing though, is that if my 8-year-old self had asked my 20-year-old self, “Why don’t you write anymore?” and I replied, “Because I’m not good at it,” or “Because nobody would read what I write,” or “Because you can’t make money doing that,” not only would I have been completely wrong, but that 8-year-old boy version of myself would have probably started crying.
We’ve all had that experience where we get so wrapped up in something that minutes turn into hours and hours turn into “Holy crap, I forgot to have dinner.”
Supposedly, in his prime, Isaac Newton’s mother had to regularly come in and remind him to eat because he would go entire days so absorbed in his work that he would forget.
I used to be like that with video games. This probably wasn’t a good thing. In fact, for many years it was kind of a problem. I would sit and play video games instead of doing more important things like studying for an exam, or showering regularly, or speaking to other humans face-to-face.
It wasn’t until I gave up the games that I realized my passion wasn’t for the games themselves (although I do love them). My passion is for improvement, being good at something and then trying to get better. The games themselves — the graphics, the stories — they were cool, but I can easily live without them. It’s the competition — with others, but especially with myself — that I thrive on.
And when I applied that obsessiveness for improvement and self-competition to an internet business and to my writing, well, things took off in a big way.
Maybe for you, it’s something else. Maybe it’s organizing things efficiently, or getting lost in a fantasy world, or teaching somebody something, or solving technical problems. Whatever it is, don’t just look at the activities that keep you up all night, but look at the cognitive principles behind those activities that enthrall you. Because they can easily be applied elsewhere.
Before you are able to be good at something and do something important, you must first suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing. That’s pretty obvious. And in order to suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing, you must embarrass yourself in some shape or form, often repeatedly. And most people try to avoid embarrassing themselves, namely because it sucks.
Ergo, due to the transitive property of awesomeness, if you avoid anything that could potentially embarrass you, then you will never end up doing something that feels important.
Yes, it seems that once again, it all comes back to vulnerability.
Right now, there’s something you want to do, something you think about doing, something you fantasize about doing, yet you don’t do it. You have your reasons, no doubt. And you repeat these reasons to yourself ad infinitum.
But what are those reasons? Because I can tell you right now that if those reasons are based on what others would think, then you’re screwing yourself over big time.
If your reasons are something like, “I can’t start a business because spending time with my kids is more important to me,” or “Playing Starcraft all day would probably interfere with my music, and music is more important to me,” then OK. Sounds good.
But if your reasons are, “My parents would hate it,” or “My friends would make fun of me,” or “If I failed, I’d look like an idiot,” then chances are, you’re actually avoiding something you truly care about because caring about that thing is what scares the shit out of you, not what mom thinks or what Timmy next door says.
Living a life avoiding embarrassment is akin to living a life with your head in the sand.
Living a life avoiding embarrassment is akin to living a life with your head in the sand.
Great things are, by their very nature, unique and unconventional. Therefore, to achieve them, we must go against the herd mentality. And to do that is scary.
Embrace embarrassment. Feeling foolish is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful. The more a major life decision scares you, chances are the more you need to be doing it.
In case you haven’t seen the news lately, the world has a few problems. And by “a few problems,” what I really mean is, “everything is fucked and we’re all going to die.”
I’ve harped on this before, and the research also bears it out, but to live a happy and healthy life, we must hold on to values that are greater than our own pleasure or satisfaction.1
So pick a problem and start saving the world. There are plenty to choose from. Our screwed up education systems, economic development, domestic violence, mental health care, governmental corruption. Hell, I just saw an article this morning on sex trafficking in the US and it got me all riled up and wishing I could do something. It also ruined my breakfast.
Find a problem you care about and start solving it. Obviously, you’re not going to fix the world’s problems by yourself. But you can contribute and make a difference. And thatfeeling of making a difference is ultimately what’s most important for your own happiness and fulfillment.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Gee Mark, I read all of this horrible stuff and I get all pissed off too, but that doesn’t translate to action, much less a new career path.”
Glad you asked…
For many of us, the enemy is just old-fashioned complacency. We get into our routines. We distract ourselves. The couch is comfortable. The Doritos are cheesy. And nothing new happens.
This is a problem.
What most people don’t understand is that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it.2, 3
Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-and-error process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.
So ask yourself, if someone put a gun to your head and forced you to leave your house every day for everything except for sleep, how would you choose to occupy yourself? And no, you can’t just go sit in a coffee shop and browse Facebook. You probably already do that. Let’s pretend there are no useless websites, no video games, no TV. You have to be outside of the house all day every day until it’s time to go to bed — where would you go and what would you do?
Sign up for a dance class? Join a book club? Go get another degree? Invent a new form of irrigation system that can save the thousands of children’s lives in rural Africa? Learn to hang glide?
What would you do with all of that time?
If it strikes your fancy, write down a few answers and then, you know, go out and actually do them. Bonus points if it involves embarrassing yourself.
Most of us don’t like thinking about death. It freaks us out. But thinking about our own death surprisingly has a lot of practical advantages. One of those advantages is that it forces us to zero in on what’s actually important in our lives and what’s just frivolous and distracting.
When I was in college, I used to walk around and ask people, “If you had a year to live, what would you do?” As you can imagine, I was a huge hit at parties. A lot of people gave vague and boring answers. A few drinks were nearly spit on me. But it did cause people to really think about their lives in a different way and re-evaluate what their priorities were.
This man's headstone will read: "Here lies Greg. He watched every episode of '24'... twice."
This man’s headstone will read: “Here lies Greg. He watched every episode of ’24’… twice.”
What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What is your obituary going to say? Is there anything to say at all? If not, what would you like it to say? How can you start working towards that today?
And again, if you fantasize about your obituary saying a bunch of badass shit that impresses a bunch of random other people, then again, you’re failing here.
When people feel like they have no sense of direction, no purpose in their life, it’s because they don’t know what’s important to them, they don’t know what their values are.
And when you don’t know what your values are, then you’re essentially taking on other people’s values and living other people’s priorities instead of your own. This is a one-way ticket to unhealthy relationships and eventual misery.
Discovering one’s “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you. And to find them you must get off your couch and act, and take the time to think beyond yourself, to think greater than yourself, and paradoxically, to imagine a world without yourself."
Here's the link to Manson's full article  and one of his quotes for Today's Takeaway Lesson...

"Get Off Your Couch & Act..." Mark Manson

Here's to Being All In,


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