Selfishness and Fearlessness

Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today’s prompt: The idea of “being realistic” holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place – getting “real” often means putting your dreams on hold.

Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down. Also write down the obstacles in your way of reaching your goal. Finally, write down a tangible plan to overcome each obstacle.

The only thing left is to, you know, actually go make it happen. What are you waiting for?

Again, this touches on self-assessment I’ve completed years ago. In 2005, I looked around, blinking owlishly at my world. None of my activities fed me. None of my relationships fulfilled me. I am a seriously goal-oriented individual, and I’d been allowing everyone else to set my goals for me.

My career was borne of happy accidents, not driven by any desire on my part to do a certain thing. My home life comprised of a series of roles I was meant to fulfill and nothing to do with me. I had severed meaningful ties with friends and family, and I’d cut myself off from my Self.

After this awakening, I got Selfish, and I’ve stayed Selfish.

When someone tells you you’re being selfish, it means that you are doing something for yourself, and not in pursuit of their goals, their happiness. And frankly, their goals and happiness aren’t really your job. It’s a “should” word, a shaming hook-word meant to keep you in line. To keep you focused on other people (generally the person saying it) and not on yourself. Ultimately, the person wielding the word is being the selfish one, not you.

To answer this prompt, I don’t have an unrealistic goal that I’ve been afraid to pursue. I have unrealistic goals that I make realistic. I have goals that terrify me, and I jump anyway. I have goals that make some people around me roll their eyes in disbelief. To them, I just think “Yeah, I’ll give you a signed copy when I’m published.”

Other people around me know better than to roll their eyes. They’ve watched me. They’ve seen me. They’ve witnessed these safety-defying leaps that I take.

Six years ago, I turned my entire world upside down because I knew I needed to do so. It wasn’t safe, it wasn’t neat and tidy. It was messy and scary, and the best move I’ve ever made. I switched careers successfully three years ago to do something that fulfills me, challenges me and interests me. I run-bike-run duathlons and consistently come in faster than I did the race before. I own my own house. I’ve written a novel that you had damned well better believe is going to get published. I can run 13 miles at a go, and I can cycle at least 66 miles (I have yet to prove that I can ride 100). I haven’t owned a car since 2004.

This year, I’m backpacking 6 days on the Appalachian trail (I think we’re looking at 61 miles). I’ve done one overnight hiking / camping trip in my life. Last month. If this isn’t a bold and outrageous goal, I don’t know what is.

I’m on my 3rd revision of my novel, 2nd of the short story that accompanies it. It takes creativity and perseverance to write a novel. And eventually, I’m going to have to face rejection as well, on the route to publication. Bring it.

I’m saving up for and planning a wedding in 2012, which I refuse to go into debt for. In fact, I plan to pay off one of my credit cards by the end of 2011 regardless of the wedding.

I’m going to try my first triathlon in July, even though that 600 meter swim scares the crap out of me.

My friend Sherean said it a few days ago in a trust30 response – “Go big or go home.” I don’t do anything but go big. Even my modest goals turn into behemoths.

Do I have other, crazier, wilder goals after I’m a published author and a nationally ranked duathlete? Sure I do. But those are in the Top Secret Vault, and you don’t get to hear about them until they’re ready to be revealed…. Ha!


5 thoughts on “Selfishness and Fearlessness

  1. You're awesome! It's perfectly acceptable to do things for yourself (I call this self-interest). And I can't WAIT to have signed copies of your books!

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