By Vu Nguyen
LIVING IN FEAR – PLAYING IT SAFE
In my life, the most profound of lessons have come from the unlikeliest of people and often at the most unsuspecting of times. There is much to learn in life – you just have to be a willing student. Personally, I’ve found that my greatest lessons have come in the form of “mistakes” or “failures”. Rather, they’ve come in the form of what society deems to be mistakes or failures.
Society has taught us to live within a certain standard, to “play it safe,” and to be risk-adverse. And, in complete compliance, most of us do just that. We live within our safe bubbles, never daring to do more than obtain a four-year degree and work an 8 to 5 job that we don’t particularly enjoy. This life is dull, but this life is also “safe”. Before you read on, let me ask you this: what exactly are “mistakes” and “failures” and what does the word “safe” really mean? Why aren’t you allowed to decide this for yourself? The fact is, you are. Unfortunately, as a society, we’ve been programmed to conform to someone else’s definitions of these words.
SAFETY IS A LIE
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly acknowledge and understand why we are afraid to deviate from the norm. It’s uncomfortable. Perhaps even scary. Not to mention, the potential scrutiny from your family, friends, and neighbors would be too much to bear. However, if you want to grow, discomfort is part of the process. Albert Einstein, renowned for being one of the smartest and most influential figures in our history said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” This applies to each and every one of us – no matter how many times you add two and two you’ll never get five.
Do you know anyone who consistently achieves results which they, themselves, deem to be unsatisfactory but refuse to do anything different because of fear and insecurity? Are you one of them? If you answered yes, don’t fret. You’re not alone.
Whether by societal, cultural, or familial influence, we have been taught to believe that the fear of failure protects us from failure. This is one of life’s biggest lies. You will fail in life. It’s inevitable. It’s how you react to failure that actually matters. Always staying in the safe zone is actually quite dangerous. It leads to dissatisfaction, unhappiness, depression, and anger with oneself and others. I’ve seen it happen. I know you have too. By playing it safe, you are a spectator to your own life.
Simply put, to grow and to develop, you must stray from the safe comfort zone and risk failure. It’s scary, I get it. Sometimes you just have to take chances and stare fear in the face.
I can sum up my life in a few words: it’s not easy and, at times, it’s extremely uncomfortable. But, it’s thrilling, and I love it. In my journey, I’ve made decisions that society, family, and friends have deemed to be too “risky” and “daring”. Those closest to me are always trying to talk me out of my “obsession”. I’ll listen but, unless they present a very compelling argument, I just brush it off. Why? I’ve learned that the ones who try the hardest to stop you from doing something bold are typically the same ones who despise their own direction and have already submitted to complacency. Why would I listen to those who aren’t satisfied with their own lives when I strive to be satisfied with my own? Why would I listen to those who are afraid to push their boundaries when I strive to be the best that I can be? (I know I sound cynical but, believe me, there is support out there. I have plenty.)
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made bad decisions. Plenty of them. That’s just the nature of business. That’s just the nature of life. But, as it pertains to learnings, lessons, and growth, I always gain more from decisions that don’t necessarily yield the expected result. Through someone else’s lens, this is “failure”. Through my lens, I see something completely different. I don’t believe in failure. In fact, I’ve redefined my definition of failure. If I’ve applied the appropriate and necessary due diligence, I didn’t fail. I learned a lesson. I simply take a “back-to-the-drawing-board” approach, revise, and correct until I do achieve the expected result. The point is if I truly believe in something and if I’ve applied the appropriate and necessary due diligence, I would prefer to put the notion of safety on the line, stare fear in the face and take a leap of faith.
EXPECT MORE OF YOURSELF – SET GOALS
Many people cringe when they hear the term “goals”. Why? For these people, setting goals means the potential for failure.
Goals don’t have to be grandiose life goals. They don’t have to be monetary goals. They don’t have to be career goals. To set goals simply means to expect more of yourself and then holding yourself accountable by measuring your progress against the predetermined metric. Relax. They are your goals. They are completely personal, and you are only competing against yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, as mentioned before, you will face discomfort. That’s a part of it. Whether you want to lose or gain weight, learn a new language, start a new blog, you must be willing to face some discomfort. Discomfort is a sign that you’re doing the right things; that you’re progressing. You should also accept that you will face objection and opposition. Even though they are personal goals, there will always be those who want to convince you that your goals are stupid or unobtainable. Ignore them. It’s human nature to try and suppress others who are doing things that they, themselves, don’t have the discipline or the guts to do. This is just noise.
As I eluded to earlier, there is plenty of support out there. However, you may have to look outside of your immediate group.
5 ACTIONS YOU NEED TO TAKE IMMEDIATELY
Here are five things that I suggest you do to get the most out of life:
- Identify your passion(s) – doesn’t it just make sense that you get more out of life if you do the things you love?
- Find a mentor – learning from someone who has more life experience or experience in your field of interest is one of the most practical things you can do.
- Find a mentee – your ability to help others is a luxury that can’t be overlooked. If you don’t believe you qualify, know that everyone has something to contribute.
- Set goals – know that you can do better and then hold yourself accountable. Reward yourself if you achieve that goal. Reward yourself for learning a lesson if you didn’t achieve that goal.
- Take risks – be bold. If life isn’t going the way that you had once imagined, make a plan, exercise the appropriate due diligence, and take a leap of faith.
GET ON IT!
Too many people sit and watch their lives go by. Don’t be one of them. Life is real short and real dull that way. I implore you to not be a spectator to your own life but be the leading character. Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them. Set goals. Have dreams. Take chances. Take action. You won’t regret it.
(This article was originally posted on www.vnvigor.com)
Vu Nguyen is the owner and founder of the Calgary-based health and fitness company VN Vigor. To know more about Vu and VN Vigor, visit www.vnvigor.com.