When comes to finding what they love to do, many people hesitate because they’re afraid of finding out it’s not really what they want to do or they won’t be any good at it. So they assume the position of ‘I might’ but ultimately do nothing for fear of wasting time/money/energy on something that perhaps wasn’t meant to be.
But here’s the thing:
Living with ‘I might’ will cost you more time, energy, and money than giving it a go ever will. Living with ‘I might’ will allow you to feel safe and stay inside your comfort zone. But it will teach you nothing and the amount of growth involved is practically zilch.
Until you actually make a move, you learn nothing. And when you do move, one of the things you’ll likely learn is that you should have moved sooner.
Note here, I’m not talking about doing things on a whim. New ventures should be given consideration before committing to them; sometimes careful consideration. I’m also not giving out free passes today to those people who constantly jump to new projects because they have trouble committing to anything long term (you know who you are). I’m talking about those things you’ve been considering (dreaming about) for years.
The idea to write this article emerged while walking with a friend. She was recalling how, after more than a decade of contemplating it, she’d enrolled in a course to learn to be a counsellor. She’d often thought that counselling would be the type of work that she would be good at and that she would enjoy. For a long time though, she didn’t pursue the counselling path because she already had a career in a completely different field that paid well. Life was good, and there were bills to be paid, so why risk changing anything?
Eventually, the noise of the ‘what if I’m missing my true path’ became louder than the fear of ‘what if it turns out badly’. My friend enrolled in the course, completing the curriculum outside of her normal working hours.
I’d like to tell you here it was a happy ending in my friend discovered that she loved her new career in counselling and she only wished she’s done it sooner.
The reality was, as my friend attended classes and completed several assignments, it became apparent to her, as she learned more and more about what counselling was like and what it involved, it was not the career for her.
For a time after that realisation she continued with the course anyway because she had made a commitment and had already invested time and money. But not long after that, with a number of other commitments and goals entering into her life and feeling overwhelmed, she decided something had to give. At this point she withdrew from the counselling course.
That was the background to this anecdote. Now fast forward to when my friend and I were walking and talking. What became obviously was the amount of guilt she was carrying around because she had not completed the course that she had previously committed time and money to. From one perspective at least, that time and money was now wasted.
From my perspective, she was inspiring for finding the courage that many never find, and smart for being one massive step closer to finding what she loves to do. So I said…
Many people (I know because I see it all the time in coaching) have things (e.g. careers, hobbies, holidays, activities) that they would like to do; things that they have been considering for years (sometimes decades) that they don’t do. There is some part of them that feels they could really get a lot of enjoyment out of the activity that they have been considering for years, but they don’t really know for sure that they will enjoy it. What they want is some kind of certainty or guarantee that it will have been worth the time/energy/money. They don’t get the certainty (ever), so they instead continue to dream ‘I might like to do that one day’.
When you commit to something – and show up fully – then, regardless of whether it works out or not, you have given yourself the freedom of releasing the ‘I might’ and developed some muscles about how to live your life.
When I’d finished, I was pleased to see the look on my friend’s face of a weight having been lifted. A thought process that is so natural to me these days had been given little, if any, consideration by her. She may not have got the happy ending she imagined when she enrolled in the course, but she did take a massive leap forward in her life and that in itself is a happy ending.
I called my friend up a week later and asked her if she wouldn’t mind being used as an example in this article. She excitedly responded:
“You should definitely write about it. I had wanted to do counselling forever. At least I thought I did. When I decided to withdraw from the course, I had a sense of failure of starting but not completing it and seeing it only from that perspective, and that made me feel guilty. But now, having given it my best shot, I am released from all that wondering. I don’t have to live with the ‘what-if’ anymore. It gives me much more energy to create what I actually do want.”
I was silent.
“What?” she said.
“Nothing. I’m writing this down.”