Stop waiting for permission to live your life. To do epic shit. To take a risk. To do something that your family, spouse and accountant says you shouldn’t. To quit. To start. To homeschool your kids while sailing around the world. To publish. To tell her you love her. To tell her you don’t love her. To say you’re sorry. To ask for what you want.
There are ALWAYS reasons to stay the course and wait for permission. Fuck the reasons. Reasons are a Trojan horse for excuses and fear.
Your life is ticking away one miraculous, fleeting breath at a time. When you wait for permission, you wait at your own peril. There is an alternative. As James Altucher says, you can “choose yourself.”
The Moment When You Decide It’s Possible
The first time I gave myself permission was at age 16. I was a camp counselor and for the first time ever, I was popular. The other counselors liked me. I got invited to all the parties. The cute female counselor had a crush on me. (Holy shit!) This was a radical departure from the modest place I had assigned myself in the social pecking order.
Before going back for my last year of high school, I decided that things were going to change: I gave myself permission to be as awesome as I had discovered I could be. I didn’t grow an inch taller, walk with a strut, or take the prom queen home with me, but my life changed in unmistakable ways. Perhaps most gratifying of these, I smiled more.
Though it was a modest start, I had begun to unravel one of life’s greatest truths: We are at the source of everything in our lives.
A year ago, I gave myself permission to start a new career to help people lead remarkable lives – a career in which I had no experience or credentials. No Ph.D., no Masters degree. No decade of work experience. I was so afraid to start that I waited until I was four days away from starting my MBA – on the precipice of two years of school and $160,000 in debt.
From the outside, it may appear that I know what I’m doing – that blogging, coaching and facilitating workshops is second nature. Don’t be fooled. I started from ground zero and everything I’ve learned so far has been by hustling – giving it a try, making mistakes, shaking them off, and doing it better the next time.
Ready To Give Yourself Permission?
As you consider the next big decision in your own life, here are some things to keep in mind.
Comparing yourself to others won’t help. When you look at others who have gone ahead of you, all you see is the polished exterior. You don’t see the anxiety, the repeated failures and the hustle. We’re a society of ducks – gliding calmly along on the surface, but paddling like hell underneath.
Flesh out the worst-case scenario. Resistance to a decision often takes the form of uneasiness due to an uncertain outcome. Uncertainty is hard to work with – things could work out perfectly or they could crash and burn. To get a handle on your decision, visualize the worst possible outcome. If you homeschool your kids on a sailboat, they might suck at algebra. If you bungee jump, the cord might snap. If you start a business, you might run out of money. Could you handle that outcome? Knowing makes it easier to decide.
Evaluating pros and cons is a waste of time. Ben Franklin said, “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” Your mind is deft enough that you can always find a way to justify staying within your comfort zone. The only way to avoid this trap is to feel the right decision and act on it. The time for pragmatism is once you’ve already committed and are figuring out how to follow through.
Good enough is the enemy of great. Often we wait for a full-blown crisis or precipice before we’re ready to make a hard decision. Rather than having a difficult break-up conversation, we’ll subconsciously create a crisis, becoming more argumentative or getting a job offer in a different city. So you can imagine how difficult it is to make a change when things are going well. That’s why making the right, heart-centered choice requires the most courage when choosing amongst great alternatives. Be wary!
The world will accept your decision but you have to make it… and own it. The universe can sense a fake. If you make a decision half way, you’re going to get none of the benefit. If you decide to break up but keep hanging out, you’re going to make a mess. If you start a company but have only saved enough for a three-month runway, you’re going to fail and go back to a job. If you lift weights five times a week but never add weight to the bar, you’re not going to get stronger. You need to get off the fence and commit if you want results.
If you’ve been waiting to make a difficult decision or do something that scares you, one moment is as good as another to act. Not doing it now is just wasting time.
What are you going to give yourself permission to do? Let us know in the comments.