Nothing To Lose
A few months ago I felt paralyzed. I had some great ideas, but that was all they remained as the days went by, just ideas. Before I knew it, I was stuck in the cycle of waiting.
Tomorrow. When I raise money. When the time is right. After I settle things. When I’m done learning.
These phrases appear to be valid reasons for waiting, but they are usually just excuses used to rationalize an easier choice. And while it may be an easy choice, it is an unfulfilling choice.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Humans by nature are hopeful and optimistic creatures. We usually think about the future as though it will occur for us with absolute certainty, and that makes it hard to imagine death as a motivation for living. To paraphrase Steve Jobs: remembering that you are going to die is the best way you can avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You really have nothing to lose.
It’s so easy to get stuck in the cycle of waiting, putting things off until later, even when those things are vitally important to making your dreams come true. But the truth is that, in order to make progress, you need to fight against the momentum of ordinary events. The default state of any new idea is failure. It’s the execution, the fight against inertia, that matters. You have to remember to go against your instinct, to confront the ordinary, and to put up a fight.
It used to confuse and fascinate me how so many people with great dreams and great visions of the future can live such ordinary, repetitive lives. But now I know. I’ve experienced it. Doing something remarkable with your life is hard work, and it helps to remember one simple, motivating fact: in a blink, you could be gone.
For a long time, I waited to discover my purpose. It was only very recently that I realized purpose is something you are supposed to create for yourself.
The most destructive thing people do is spend their lives waiting. Live your dreams and aspirations now.