About 75% of the things I’m involved in right now are commitments I never envisioned myself having. I spent the morning helping at my son’s t-ball game, giving him batting advise and reminding him to “keep your eye on the ball.” I spent the later part of the morning trying to finish work on an upcoming election project, keeping my eye on the clock, aware that the kids would be coming home at any moment from dharma school and my brief moment of quiet to get as much stuff done would be over. I had to make progress on my to do list or else the new wave of to-dos that would come with the new week would be insurmountable.
I didn’t ever think I’d be involved in any of these two activities, and this is just a slice of what I’ve been doing. A lot of the details in my life today are as a result from detours, trying new paths, experimenting, and opening myself up to new ideas. I wasn’t always receptive to trying new things.
Now I tend to embrace any new opportunity that comes my way, figuring that the experience it gives me will most likely prove useful in other domains in my life at some point. This has mostly held true. But I wasn’t always this way. I wasn’t an overly eager participant in high school. I had the few things I was into and that was it. I wasn’t volunteering for everything. I wasn’t super assertive and wasn’t a hundred percent confident in how far I could go. Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like today if I had put myself out there a little more, or a lot more, and had taken on more opportunities with the frame of mind that I had no boundaries, no limitations.
The thing is, when you put yourself out there, you open yourself up to uncomfortable moments when you’ll have to deal with situations that you wouldn’t have otherwise had to deal with if you had stayed within your own comfort zone. Life gets more complicated and sticky. It’s easier to stay home where everything is familiar. It’s easier on the ego to avoid rejection and failure.
But each encounter adds to your experiences, and whether you win or lose, you learn along the way. You add new tools to your toolbox that you’ll be able to use to move forward. It’s really fascinating, and again, I wonder why I didn’t force myself to try more new things earlier in my life.
Every new experience isn’t experienced in isolation. I’ve found that everything you do is interconnected in some way. The learning builds on top of other learning, adding layers to who you are.
Whether you’re practicing to keep your eye on the ball or watching the clock to meet a deadline, we are always learning, prioritizing, creating, experimenting and challenging ourselves to be a little bit better.
But this doesn’t happen on it’s own. You make it happen.
You must seek out opportunities.
You must put yourself out there.
You must not be afraid to fall.
When you fall, you must get up and keep trying.
You must identify the lesson in every experience.
You seek out the ingredients you need in life, you mix them together to create your own recipe, and you produce something. You do it. You can’t wait for someone else.
Today I need to plug away at my household to do list and keep chipping away at chapter 2. I had a deadline of yesterday to finish the chapter, but I realized I was going to end up doing a half-ass job on it just to meet an arbitrary deadline I imposed on myself. So, I decided to slow down and do a quality job and give myself an extra week. So this week my goal is the same: finish chapter 2.
What’s your goal this week?