I believe doing the things you want to do has more to do with what you forgo than what you involve yourself in.
The reason we don’t pursue what is meaningful to us is not that we don’t want to, it’s because something prevents us from doing so.
There’s always a constraint, an obligation, a sacrifice to be made. But that’s the easy part.
Recognizing the things that unconsciously halt us is where it gets complicated. When your job is such a central part of your life, you’ve never given thought to quitting it, when in a relationship, options that accommodate the both of you become defaults.
Getting to the point where you can have sufficient distance from yourself to see what core aspects of your life truly hold you back is the challenge.
Montreal, Canada – June 24, 2013
I’m having lunch with Catherine at an event our friends Diane and Danny organized. They’d worked on every last piece of decoration for the event for weeks, from the promotional video to the chopstick holders. They had the chef explain thoroughly how he chose and prepared his fish. They showed us how to wrap a basket with cloth so that you can carry it around. They had even made small baskets with gifts for every attendee.
Catherine and I were both struck by how different their lives were from ours. How they’d spent weeks working on this project, while we’d been routinely managing our businesses.
As a reward to myself, I had planned a 2-3 month trip during my painting company’s upcoming low season. During that lunch, we talked about it, and suddenly it came up : Why didn’t I ditch the painting company altogether and leave for a year?
I’d been doing the same thing for over 18 months, and that was the first time I actually realized I could go out and do something completely different. That what was holding me back was not some exterior force, but a self-imposed constraint that I’d internalized.
A few months later, I was off.
With a one-way ticket.
Bali, Indonesia – October 14, 2014
Substantial change logically has to come at the expense of some other important aspect of one’s life. Rarely does it come through increments, it is usually drastic, revolutionary.
To get to where you want to be, convincing the entire crew to change course is never as effective as jumping ship.
And therein lies the challenge : giving up, on all the right things.