Two of my friends are starting off on a grand journey soon. In a few weeks, they’re quitting their jobs and taking six months off to travel around the world. It took them years to save up the money, but they’ve finally earned enough to take the leap.
Some people have called their plans a little crazy. Yes, it’s a big risk, but I still think they’re making the right choice.
Sometimes you just have to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do.
I can sympathize with them; I’ve done some crazy things over the years too.
- I started a blog with the goal to reach thousands of readers without first learning much about how blogging even works.
- I traveled all the way to Casablanca, Morocco to teach at a school I’d never been to.
- I spent a ton of money (almost all of my savings) on IVF which only offered a 50% chance of working.
- I flew to Belize so I could swim with sharks in the open ocean.
- I’ve started copying “The Great Gatsby” word for word into a Word doc because I heard Hunter S. Thompson did it to improve his writing.
They’re all things people thought were a little on the crazy side, but something inside of me just felt like my life would somehow be incomplete if I never got around to doing them.
I often hear from people who have that same urge to pursue a long-held goal, but can’t find any good reason to start. It’s as if they’re looking for that one specific reason that will justify their decision.
I’ve never had a tough time coming up with some good reasons. Here are some of the best ones.
1. You only have one life to make it happen – do it or live with the regret
To me, living a good life is about minimizing the chance of regret. I don’t want to reach the end and look back only to wonder what might have been.
No matter what goal you have, there will be reasons not to do it – the fears and doubts holding you back or the excuses you give to quit.
But when you reach the end of your life, all those reasons will pale in comparison to the sharp pang of regret.
Here’s the truth: your life is ending one day at a time. Everything you ever want to do has to take place in the brief existence you’re given to live.
When you take a close look at your options, there should be little room for anything but taking action. Even if it turns out badly, I’d do it – I at least tried to make it happen.
As John Green once said, “What’s the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”
2. It will make you happy
Just knowing that you had the courage to do something crazy is life-affirming. It can fill you with a sense of accomplishment that few other activities can.
When your goal or project is finished, you’ll have the rest of your life to look back on it with a newfound sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. You made it happen. Few things give you the same sense of pride as the knowledge that you faced down all your obstacles and took a chance.
3. Do it for no specific reason at all
When George Mallory made his attempt to be the first person to climb Mt. Everest, a reporter asked him why he wanted to do it. He famously replied, “Because it’s there.”
Weirdly enough, this is sometimes the only reason you need.
I like to think rationally through all my decisions, but sometimes you just have to throw it all out the window and do it “just because.”
Sometimes the task or project itself can provide all the meaning you need. It can be enough to do something crazy simply because it gives us a sense of purpose and direction.
4. You never know what good things will happen
It’s amazing how often taking action can open up opportunities you never realized were there.
When you’re on the verge of doing something new, the uncertainty surrounding it can be frightening; you don’t know what will happen.
But there’s a positive side to uncertainty. It also clouds all the new paths that might be waiting for you.
Amazing things can happen when you put yourself out there. The experience you gain from it might introduce you to a new idea, person or thought that leads your life down an unexpected, wonderful path you never knew existed.
5. You’ll grow more as a person than you can imagine
Doing something crazy can seem daunting. There might be organizational issues or time management to contend with, not to mention any external or internal obstacles.
But with each step you take to make it happen, you learn and grow as a person.
Overcoming obstacles builds knowledge and confidence. Each fear and doubt you shake off builds a tough mental attitude.
Growth occurs from challenges. When you tackle more than you’re used to, you’ll become so much more than you’ve ever known.
6. Passionately pursuing it will make you feel alive
Every one of my crazy goals has been a labor of passion. Passion is what sustains me and keeps me moving and working on a project – it’s what makes me excited and feel alive.
When you set a crazy goal that is uniquely your own, you don’t feel like you have to work on it, you get to work on it – a huge difference.
Immersing yourself in something you love to do is good for the spirit as well as the mind. You wake up looking forward to what the new day is about to bring – and that feeling is priceless.
Do it because the thought of it excites you. Do it because it consumes your time and thoughts. When you fill your life with something you’re passionate about, it can feel so enriching and fulfilling.
7. It’s freeing – you start to wonder what else you’re capable of doing
There comes a moment right after you finish a goal or project – something crazy you never thought you could do.
After it’s all done, you look back on everything you thought was holding you back – the fears, doubts and excuses. What once seemed so real now only seems insubstantial and out of touch with reality. All those reasons holding you back might even seem silly with what you know now.
Then a magical thing happens. Your mind drifts to other thoughts – other crazy dreams and aspirations. There’s an assortment of fears, doubts and excuses with them too – only now your view of them has changed, they don’t seem as real or formidable.
Every time you finish something you once thought was impossible, you strengthen the idea that you’re capable of more than you know.
Instead of seeing limitations and barriers, the world becomes open and free. Instead of telling yourself you can’t do something, you start to understand your autonomy and self-determination.
Eventually you start to realize that there’s less holding you back than once thought – and that’s an incredibly freeing idea.
photo credit: Alex Indigo