You’re bored. You’re bored and you know it – you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.
Yes – that was definitely a line from The Notebook used strategically to get your attention… don’t judge me.
Before we answer that simple, “what do you want” question – I have a story to share with you all. It goes something like this…
At 28 years old, Scott Harrison had it all. A top nightclub promoter in New York City, his life was an endless cycle of drugs, booze, and women.
But 10 years in, desperately unhappy and morally bankrupt, he asked himself, “What would the exact opposite of my life look like?” Walking away from everything, Harrison spent the next 16 months on a hospital ship in West Africa and discovered his true calling.
In 2006, with no money and less than no experience, Harrison founded charity: water. Today, his organization has raised over $300 million to bring clean drinking water to more than 9.5 million people around the globe.
Nothing short of extraordinary, if you ask me. Scott’s story struck a nerve and reminded me of something I’ve long forgotten – we can all be whoever we want, whenever we want.
And that’s the honest truth.
Now… (back to my Notebook reference) – will you do something for me? Please? Will you just picture your life for me – 30 years from now, 40 years from now – what’s it look like?
And please – Would you stop thinking about what everyone else wants? Stop thinking about what I want – what he wants, what your parents want. What do you want? WHAT DO YOU WANT?
But, Ryan… IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE.
Yes, I know – but I have to ask… WHY NOT? I mean seriously. When did that question become so difficult to answer? And when did it start creating enough anxiety in our lives to sprint away every time someone asks us what we want?
I think things were simpler when we were younger. If someone asked what I wanted, I’d say a Capri Sun, Mac n’ Cheese and Rocket Power – and I was the happiest human alive.
And that’s just it – for most of our lives, almost everything has had a clear result attached to it. Go to school, keep your dog from eating your homework, play a few sports, try not to kill your parents, get your diploma, etc.
And we did those things because it’s what we were told to do. Teacher X wants Paper Y – boom, we write it. Mom wants jock strap off the floor – fine, I guess we’ll have it your way, Mom.
Then, we go to college, join the military, attend a trade school, or find a job. We meet tons of people, learn new perspectives, hit a beer bong or two (sorry mom), and laugh until we cry with all our new friends.
There’s no uncertainty. We just act. And it’s awesome.
Then, overnight, the real world hits us and everything we knew to be true comes crashing down…
Welcome to adulthood…
Everyone apparently met their soul mate in college while you were blacking out on dollar shots. All your coworkers are planning a wedding while you’re trying to figure out how the hell they afford their lifestyle.
You pound coffee in the breakroom dreading the voice of chipper old Jan who sits in the cubicle next to you. And all you really want is for someone who isn’t a total psychopath to watch Netflix and eat pizza with you all day Sunday so you can avoid the anxiety of Monday morning.
We’re all the same, in one way or another. We buy the same goods, listen to the same music, get the same cubicle jobs, binge-watch the same Stranger Things, and seek the same approval from our peers. It doesn’t matter how different you think you are, we’re all trying to do the same things and solve the same problems.
Isn’t it interesting how no one seems to panic when things go according to plan? But once there’s an upset in the established order, everything turns to chaos.
Well, friends – the root of all chaos is fear of the unknown. And it’s the things we’re the most uncertain about that seem to be the most frightening.
Like when you’re deciding on a career path, there’s no one telling you which career is right for you. Or when you’re choosing who to commit to, no one warns you they might be a total psychopath. Or when you decide to start a business or travel the world or eat a California burrito at 3am – there’s no way of knowing, for certain, if you’re doing the right thing or not.
And that scares the hell out of us.
So, what do we do?
We avoid making tough decisions altogether. We stick to doing what we think we know because we refuse to act on what we don’t. And as a result, our lives become regrettably safe and repetitive – always settling for what life presents.
I know, I know – you’re probably thinking, “Well alright, smart a$$ – since you clearly have all the answers, how do I decided on what I want?”
And my answer – I have absolutely no idea. But, what I will tell you is that no one should decide what’s right for your life but you. The truth is, sometimes you need to just do it for no other reason than it’s what you want.
You don’t need a logical reason for doing what you want to do. Do it because you can. Because it’s unknown and exhilarating. Do it because they said you couldn’t.
As George Mallory said when asked why he wanted to climb Everest – “Because it’s there.”
If you ask me, I say add some chaos to your life. It forces you out of that comfort zone you’re trying so desperately to stay in. It stimulates growth and change and purpose for your life.
Cultivating the courage to do things for no other reason than curiosity or boredom – with no expectations placed on result or approval from others – will give you the freedom to start on something without having any idea on where it’s going. And that’s a beautiful thing.
You will fail, often, but it will be the first time in your life you failed for you and no one else. And then one day you’ll be so grateful you did something for you that those failures will be the reason you’re the happiest you’ve ever been.
And I can’t wait to know you then 😉
In closing, I’ll leave you all with this –
“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” – Jim Carrey
So, climb Everest, start a charity, get coffee with that ‘psychopath’ from the gym, eat a California burrito, travel the world, and you know… be happy.
Why? Because you deserve it – that’s why.
That’s all I got for now. Stay tuned, friends ✌️