3. Set Plans
After describing in the 1st part how I recognised that in my whole life there was a huge lack of initiatives and actual creative procedures, I, as well, found that I was never trained to set plans and goals. Shouldn’t we have goals?
I know it sounds obvious, everyone supposingly wants some things for their lives. But…
Have you set specific goals? A specific goal is not “I want to be happy with my friends”. A specific goal is not “I want to be rich”. A specific goal is not “I want to be successful”. Instead a specific goal could be “By that SPECIFIC age I want to own this SPECIFIC amount of income and assets in order to be able to have a family that can live a good life.” A specific goal could be “I want to reach the level of 150 friends, by friends meaning that are people who I can easily go out for a coffee or I could sit with them if I met them in a bar”. A specific goal is “I will run this April’s marathon in London in less than 3 hours”.
Only by setting a quantified plan you can objectively know if you are getting closer to your aim. Or if you have achieved what you really wanted. And even if you don’t achieve it, that feedback itself and the whole process can be valuable to your new and evolved plan.
How can you reach a place when you don’t know where you want to go? Have you thought about it? And if this isn’t specific means there isn’t any plan.
How can you know that you get close to a goal when you don’t exactly know what goal is this?
Are you talking about dreams but you haven’t exactly discovered what these dreams are?
You can understand that this mindset will not so possibly lead to the achievements of the goals. In fact what goals? If they haven’t even been discovered yet.
So I encourage you to first of all think of what you want and be precise in it. It’s better if you write it down. By planning and being specific your whole life’s mindset will change. Automatically your mind will be alerting you when you are focused on something that is not helpful to what you want to have or be. At the same time this specificity will make your path clearer.
If you find it difficult to be precise means that you were never actually in that way of thinking which, as I stated before, can’t help you. I believe that the main reason we don’t set goals is the fear that we will fail to achieve them and we will then feel bad about ourselves. Planning by definition puts us accountable to ourselves and to anyone else who is aware of it. This takes us to the fourth and most important aspect:
4. Overcome Fear and Insecurity
Evolving yourself and taking initiatives to achieve goals will require to constantly getting out of your comfort zone. Many processes are unusual to you. You haven’t done them before. You don’t know where it’ll lead. That’s natural. We can’t predict the future, right? There are extremely good periods and extremely bad periods like a roller coaster. There are always unexpected things happening…Possibly a financial insecurity. Also insecurity about the upcoming periods as most of the times you don’t have any actual proof that things will get better. You are sailing in an ocean where you have absolutely no idea where the land is.
You don’t even have a valid proof that somewhere there, there is a strand. And this is one reason education is helpful and meeting people more succesful than you is really valuable. Because the more you understand the world around you and what is happening to you, the more reasons to believe that you will find this strand you’ll be acquiring. So, not just beliefs, instead reasons to have these beliefs.
And this will keep you going because it shifts your mindset. You start seeing fear as a typical process. You are scared but you know you have the power to sometime reach this strand. Others have reached it, too… This strand may be far but you’ll struggle for it. Or it may be close but first you may need to go far in order to gain the knowledge to recognise how close it had been.
But still no one can assure you that the above is certain. Once again you can go beyond that. Because you know you are committed and you will never stop sailing until you reach this fucking strand. Also, you need to be ready to change the directions of your sails when you recognise they need adjustments. If the strand is on the west, sailing towards the north won’t help you. Or who knows, maybe, in the end, you recognise that the north is better…
There is a logical determinism in this whole process. By constantly adjusting your direction it’s a matter of time to reach the goal. This fills me with relief.
I now know well that the majority of human choices are determined by our fears.
Most of the things we do or not do is because we are afraid of something. We are afraid to lose something, we are afraid we will get into trouble , or that we are in danger. Millions of relationships are retained because both members are afraid to remain alone. Millions of people have dreams but they pass all their lives without doing a single step towards them. Because they are scared to be exposed, or to lose money, or to fail. They are afraid of other people’s opinion about their choice.
Imagine how could things be if you totally erased them. If you could press a button and forget all these irrational fears. This of course can’t happen but I am trying to create the picture that shows towards where we should be heading.
It’s our evolutionary past that “speaks” in all this process
The human brain has evolved in a really dangerous environment, the African savannah where the dangers of the lives of our ancestors where at risk every single moment. Fear is a mechanism that helps us decrease our chances to hurt our survival by an injury or a potential loss of life. We don’t get out of our comfort zones because the brain tries to protect us. It’s better to stay in your safety than to do something that has even 1/1000 possibility to die because you only die once…
You see, even though our environment now is different and our lives in general much safer, the mechanisms remain the same. This confuses us. We have the same psychological responses for much more insignificant issues about our survival but most of the times we don’t recognise it.
One very useful task (that comes from Tim Ferriss and in fact the stoic philosophy) you can use to overcome these boundaries your brain is putting to you and leads you not to act is the following: Sit down and write what is the worst case scenario in the situation you are thinking. If you do that I assure you that you will notice that your fears were overestimated..
Every day we make “decisions” because we are afraid to do something else more preferable to us. Most of the times we delete this fear and we put our dreams in the higher self so that we forget about them. Because together with them we delete our fear to chase them. As I mentioned before, from fear comes also the avoidance of setting goals or taking initiatives.
Think about our work careers. Our parents are afraid, our friends are afraid, we are afraid. What will happen if we don’t instantly get employed in order to have money to consume? Immediately after graduation we need to find a herd to stuck up, independently of our personal predispositions. Everyone seems to want the same even though there exist infinite different opportunities that are being ignored. If you don’t believe that, I am encouraging you to do so. You know of course that no doors will ever open if you don’t actively search for them. But if you do so, they can’t remain closed forever…
Fear and a simple application of the theory of relativity
One thought that calms me comes from the theory of relativity. You know, everything is relevant. The significance we give to each event is objective. For example, for a person that lives in Europe, a sudden death of a child in China is something s/he doesn’t even know so s/he doesn’t become affected. At first, how much things matter to us have to do with our natural needs and most of the times have to be in our environment. What you consider significant, for someone else is very insignificant.
But is easy to become self-centered. Our own needs immerse us in thoughts about them and we forget to evaluate their relative importance. Up to a point this is reasonable. Humans are insecure towards the forces of nature. Even though technology is increasing, still death hasn’t been won. However, imagine if someone was looking from outside the earth. Do you think that would recognise your issues as so significant as you find them? Do you know how big is the whole universe?
Of course, all the above is natural, as our brains don’t have the potential to know and care about everything that is happening in the universe. We have different needs, dreams and passions. However, our characters play a significant role in our issues. The more I look at my problems, the more clearly I realise that my emotional reactions on them don’t have to do with the problems themselves but with how I have trained myself to think towards the problems.
The thing is that when we look all the time inwards and focus on our problems we become obsessed with them. We think about them more and more and as a result we feel we need their solution more and more. And this once again drives us to think about it even more. So we get in a spiral loop leaving us no room to think outside of them and reach to alternative solutions that might be more efficient.
This doesn’t happen only because human beings have needs so most of the times behave emotionally. It happens also because this is how we have been taught to think. There exist plenty of obligations that have never been questioned and are considered as such. We MUST attend a formal education. We MUST commit in long-term relationships. We MUST marry and have children. We MUST secure a standard monthly salary by working in a firm or most preferably in the social sector. If all these don’t happen there will be a huge disaster.
So we immediately delete any other thought that will lead us to different directions. There is a tremendous fear that we may risk of losing all these important things. If you want to go in a big firm most possibly you will never try to implement something you are passionate about because you may waste valuable time and money and you may not be possible for the company to choose you later.
Do you know the present dimensions of the universe? Have you thought of the size of matter we belong into? Have a look at a presentation of the size of the earth in the Universe. Do you know how many human generations have existed the last 4 million years? Are your issues so important for the ecosystem as you consider them to be? Why, then, don’t we even risk looking outside our personal obligations forced to us? It won’t change the cοurse of the universe. But even if you can’t do that, thinking alternatively will do the trick and not commonly.
And these thoughts I keep reminding to myself when I feel insecure about my choices. It gives me strength to know that there is no other thing to do than to struggle to create a pleasant life according to the way my knowledge considers correct and not the social conditioning. To always learn ne
w things and progress my mindset. To struggle to behave according to what excites me and evolves me. To fight with my mind to never behave according to my fears, to insecurities and to random opinions of others. Because realistically there isn’t any reason to go differently.
In the meantime, the London wind is blowing strong outside my window on the 9th floor. I embrace even that weather phenomenon. Almost everything else is dark and silent. I open my shutters and look outside, towards Notting Hill. I let the wind touch hardly my skin. Once again I have a sense of deep gratitude and that’s enough…
In case you missed the 1st part it’s here
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