Existing in Possibility

Tomorrow will mark two weeks since graduation for me. It’s so crazy how time continues to fly even when the days feel so long. Much of my time has been spent painstakingly applying to jobs that will further my progress along my journey. On top of that though, I have started to piece together my desires and goals for the longterm. This has involved a lot of reading, discussing, thinking, and general researching.

Just a bit ago I finished reading a book, Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Transform Your Life. Generally I am highly skeptical of self-help/motivational books, but this one came highly recommended by a trusted friend and adopted mentor. Instead of trapping people into basic categories like we all have the tendency to do, the author shows the infinite possibility and potential that our lives contain.

As I have contemplated that message it became really bothersome that so many people settle and don’t even try to reach their full potential. Over and over again I have heard people say things along the lines of “life wasn’t meant to be miserable.” But then when I look around, there are a lot of miserable people.

Ever since the Geico commercial with Pinnochio came out, the word potential has turned into a bit of a joke to me. I cannot help but laugh whenever I hear it. However, there is legitimate value in the word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines potential as, “existing in possibility : capable of development into actuality.” This very much defines what life is made up of—limitless, infinite potential.

When I think about my life, I now have the desire to live in existing possibility. Over the years, a strong desire for eternal progression has been instilled in me. But without living in possibilities and considering my own capabilities for development, what’s the point of having a desire to progress?

To progress means to be open, to change, and to challenge thinking. It means to never settle for less, but to push further instead. I’m still not completely sure of what my element is, but I have a better idea than I did just one month ago.

One thing that I am completely sure of though, is that I don’t want to become one of the miserable people that have become the standard commonplace in our world. When the end of my road comes I want to look back and say that I made as many dreams become realities as I could. Just imagine how different the world would look if everyone found their true element and actually worked towards it. Society wouldn’t be perfect, but we would all be much better off for it.

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The Real Enemy

After watching Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” for the second time this semester, I started to consider what I would say if I were in that position. For several days I thought about this and I think that most of what I would say falls under a single category. Never settling.

When you stop to think about it, settling for less is the worst thing that you can ever do for yourself. You never do yourself, or anyone else, any favors by settling. The bottom line is that in every situation, good is the enemy of great. Until someone figures this out as an individual, true success in the Hero’s Journey will not come. It is impossible to reach our goals if we are willing to settle for second best, the good, or the mediocre.

As I think back on these past three or four months, the times that I have been at my lowest were the times that I accepted defeat in some way—the times that I settled. On the other end of the spectrum, when I pushed myself as far as I could and refused to accept anything less than great, I felt great.

Never settling means that you have a plan and goals. If you don’t have those, then you have already set yourself up for the mediocre. But having goals is the easy half of the battle. From there, you still have to work for it. This takes reminders, daily effort, and support. It also means stepping outside of the comfort zone and into the growth zone.

One thing that is important to note though, is that never settling does not mean meeting or accomplishing every goal or dream of yours. In Pausch’s speech, the thing that got to me the most was, “experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” In other words, when you are going for what you want and are learning as you go, even if you don’t get that job, internship, trip, etc. you still come out on top. Never settling means always learning.

If the world at large would stop settling for less, we would all be in a much better place right now.

So if you have a dream, go for it. If you fall short, take the lessons learned and apply them. Then, keep moving forward. Live smart and be smart. Always, always, always go for the great instead of the good! This will not make your life perfect and struggle free, but it will bring you both joy and strength through the journey.

In every situation GOOD < GREAT!