I want to travel, but…
…my girlfriend doesn’t want to come with me…
…my family don’t understand…
…it’s a terrible economy…
…my boss promised me a raise…
…I want to go to grad school…
…I don’t have enough money…
…so I’m not going to leave quite yet.
But I’ll do it soon. I will.
I just need a little longer.
Those are all good reasons not to travel right now.
There is always a good reason to put it off, and there will always be a good reason.
And that’s the problem.
Given the opportunity, our brains can find all manner of justification for not doing something. Wrapped in a cocoon of rationality we quietly let our fears and uncertainties determine our lives.
That’s why we come up with these reasons not to travel right now.
Because we’re afraid.
The thrill of striking out into the world is replaced by a series of fears. Terrified of an unknown future, we grasp onto anything that gives us a little comfort. We slowly step back from the abyss.
Of course we don’t want to admit that we’re scared. Not to our friends, not to our family and especially not to ourselves, so we call it something else.
We say we’re being smart. Logical. Sensible.
And while we’re busy being so damn clever, our dreams quietly wither and die.
One reason gets replaced by another.
I broke up with the girlfriend that doesn’t want to travel … but now I don’t want to travel alone.
I got that raise at work … but now the job is too good to leave.
I finally saved an amount I’m happy with … but wouldn’t it be smarter to buy a house instead?
Sometimes we just need to stop listening to our brain. Sometimes we need to start listening to our heart instead.
The sensible choice is not always the right one. Not when the stakes are this high.
We don’t get a second chance. All of the choices we make help to fill in the blank canvas of our lives, until we’re left at the end with a finished picture. What happens if we’re not happy with the way it looks? If there’s too much grey and not enough colour?
Bad luck. We’re stuck with it by then, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do.
So we need to think about what that picture should look like while we’re still painting it. We need to do it when we’re young, and we need to do it even more as we get older and life starts trying to drag us somewhere else entirely. We need to push through the darkness of our short term fears and emerge into the bright sunlight on the other side.
Opinions are like bellybuttons – everybody has one – and there’s no shortage of dissent if we dare suggest doing something different. We might have to listen to those opinions, but we sure as hell don’t have to act on them.
Because in the final reckoning it’s not our friends that have to be happy with our choices. It’s not our boss, our career advisor, our parents, kids or spouse.
So it’s time to stop worrying about what other people think. We need to stop finding reasons not to do the things that matter most to us. Not tomorrow, next month or next year, but right now.
Because when the rest of your life is at stake, even the best reasons you can find not to follow your dreams really aren’t good reasons at all.