Friday, June 22, 2012
“Some say opportunity knocks only once, That is not true. Opportunity knocks all the time, but you have to be ready for it. If the chance comes, you must have the equipment to take advantage of it.” By Louis L'Amour, American writer.
This post was prompted by a small talk I had with an online friend recently, who lamented that all her peers were well settled in life and she was yet to decide what she was going to do or who she was going to be in her future. That kind of future anxiety is usually seen in times of change like during exam results times or annual appraisals when the fear of something negative happening chills our spines and forces us to become all gloom and doom. This is especially seen in intelligent people simply because they have a better imagination and can easily calculate the consequences of their failure. And this fear makes them stick to one job or one career or one partner long after they have realized the futility of that decision but still they stick on hoping things will somehow turn themselves for the better. This paralyzing fear of failure and of taking wrong decisions is what I am going to talk about in this post.
We have this weird habit of hanging the entire future of a person on one incident or other and forgetting that life goes on and keeps springing up surprises. These kinds of experiences usually start with our parents and their expectations and goes onto involve our friends, colleagues, bosses etc.
This is a destructive pattern which once set in our lives keeps recurring every time we feel we are at a cross roads in our life. Fear of making the wrong decisions paralyses us and freezes our entire decision making capacity itself, till we don’t put a step forward in the fear that we are putting the wrong foot forward and are going to slip, fall and break our faces in public. We are frozen in space and time with no growth either personally or personality-wise. Or else we are satisfied with false forms of growth, like fulfilling someone else’s dreams and desires and taking it for our own. And we end up with the feeling that something is missing in our lives and this realization dawns only pretty late in the day when we are set on our ways and change is too difficult to contemplate.
On the other hand when you do something you are interested in doing for your own sake it will spark your passion and your inborn-drive and you will excel in what you attempt because you want to and because you’re following your own wishes, your intuition, your heart, your soul, and not the foisted on expectations of anyone else. You might not find the above mentioned “your own thing” the first time you attempt to find it, you might not even find it the fourth time or fifth time- but if you follow your heart faithfully you will find it soon. The trick is not to give up soon.
And remember what you want now, might not always be what you wanted at a previous phase in your life. As we grow, we change and our wishes and desires change. There is nothing wrong in trying to achieve bliss in what you feel you desire now and if the results are not worth the effort to move on and try an entirely new thing. For what do we work for usually? We want to showcase your greatness and prowess to our friends, colleagues and enemies. Look at me, see how great I am in my work, is what we want to say through the success of our work to others. And to achieve this gloating victory, we simply analyze and follow our strengths rather than our passions thus leading to a gnawing feeling deep in our innards that we are missing out on something.
People who hit the gym will know what I am talking about here- the vanity lifters who do bicep curl after bicep curl, because “look it is growing” and the more it grows the more they admire their biceps and work it more to the neglect of all other body parts- I have done it myself and that’s how I was labeled the squat-king of my gym and I ended up with low back pain. It’s a destructive pattern and one which we cannot admit to ourselves, because we are blinded by our vanity and ego.
This kind of success and happiness is not real – it is artificial and contrived and it exists solely to give us little bursts of confidence which soon run out, prompting us to depend on it like an addict for his kick. And suddenly you would run out of confidence, end up in a slump just like that and the fears and doubts would resurface to cause you to question yourself again. A nagging feeling of what are you doing and why are you doing it will be your only continuous companion. And if you are an overly analytical person like my above mentioned friend you will be consumed by self doubts and cynicism and end up getting depressed. And every experience of failure just validates our self diagnosis of our lack of worth, instead of being just a one-off incident. And there is no more inclination to try again or even attempt something completely new. Sometimes the people who don’t have much imagination have things easier than the clever analytical types, don’t they? For they never really stop to look where they are, but keep running blindly hoping to reach somewhere someday (even if they are running in the same place happily).
So what is the solution for this? What do I suggest for the clever people? The analytical, self aware, introspective, thinking types? For starters, banish doubt. Doubt means a lack of trust in yourself, that you cannot handle the consequences of your decisions- when they end up in failure. So what, if it’s a failure? Life doesn’t end with it, the sun will come out tomorrow and you are going to still be alive. Don’t take me wrong you can never be a success at everything you attempt – no one can. But that is no excuse not to try. Failure is what? Just a little humiliation, just a little embarrassment- it’s not a death sentence. And if you don’t take those negative thoughts seriously, they won’t have that power of paralyzing you.
And if you forget focusing on results but enjoy doing things you want to do or try out –your life would be opened to novel experiences, interesting people, new career paths and unforgettable lessons of life. Plus you can have that satisfaction of taking all that destructive (misplaced) energy of yours which predicts failure in your ears (in your hours of solitude) and use that energy to become creative, to form original thoughts and to carry them out successfully and to evolve every day. So forget those excuses- they don’t matter. Seize life, enjoy it, do things you care for and don’t worry about failure and take your chances as they come.
For they will keep coming, all through your life…..chance after chance, never fear.
To conclude, I would share a story about a guy who was once very confused about his life and career. After finishing college he decided to treat his degree as just a certificate indicating competence in one particular subject and decided to try out all the careers he imagined he would fit in, before settling down into anyone thing. So he went onto join an ad agency as a model coordinator for photo shoots, wrote ad-copy for jingles, joined the marketing department and sold soups and toothpastes, joined a media company and became a compeer on television, joined a dance studio and became a professional hip-hop dancer, joined a mixed martial arts- no rules- tournament after watching Brad Pitts “Fight club”, wrote books, wrote songs, tried his hand at being a rock star and then a free styling rap artist, ran marathons, went for jungle treks for endurance, volunteered for social causes (among other things) and always challenging himself- but still managed to stay sane and happy. If you can guess who the person is, please tell me too…