It can be painful, harsh, and exhausting. But if we do it with an open mind, free ourselves of judgment, and approach the journey with a certain kind of mindset, the outcome can forever change our lives.
I went to a panel session the other day called The Art of Transition. The room was full of 20- and 30-somethings, all seeking the next iteration of their lives.
Everyone in the room — whether on the panel or in the audience — has dealt with transition. Some were in the thick of it, others were preparing for it, and some had experienced it and since moved on. Regardless, transition was touching everyone, and this session was an opportunity for people to come together and support one another, learn from each other, and explore their innermost desires, fears, and drivers. It was like a giant therapy session for people who feel lost in their lives!
What I gathered from the group is that everyone, at one point in their existence, has felt lost. Everyone goes on their journey and has that moment where they ask themselves “what’s next?” and “where do I go from here?”.
While it’s easy to think about all the things one could do with themselves or with a certain moment, what I’m noticing is that “thinking” is typically a troubling approach.
It’s not bad; it’s just not the leading force that will help you find what you’re looking for. Nor will it help you bring an idea to fruition, find your sense of meaning, or grow into the person you want to become.
When we’re paralyzed with thought, asking ourselves “so what should I do now?”, we are blocking ourselves from self-actualizing and truly embodying the person we are on the inside.
Thought paralysis (which I’m absolutely no stranger to) leads us to get in our own way, making it hard to find our state of flow — that time when we’re so focused on doing that we lose track of the world around us — which is what everyone is craving, whether they know it or not!
Often times we’ll think about our options in the binary of success and failure. After watching a video from one of my favorite thinkers Umair Haque, I now realize the detriment of that. When we think in terms of success or failure, we’re letting extrinsic motivations cloud up our intuition and affect the decisions we make, bringing unnecessary pressures, judgments, and constraints into our thought processes that end up influencing our actions in consequential ways.
Instead, the near flip-side of this coin is action. Doing. Small steps. And doing always leads to growth, even if the result of said action is undesirable. That’s why people talk about failure so much. We learn a ton from failure because in order to get there, we must have taken certain actions and made specific choices that have resulted in unique, albeit frustrating, outcomes. And then from there, through reflection and contemplation, we’ll discover insights, new perspectives, and gain better understandings of who we are, what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it.
Only after we do something will we benefit from an extended period of thought and reflection, as our actions are the best way to create change and new realities, which we can then use to measure ourselves and our progressions, and extract insights and new ideas from.
So today, as you go through your day, make some time for doing. Try trusting yourself. Lose your sense of “should I or shouldn’t I?” and let yourself be. Find that thing you want to do and let go to the potential consequences, let go of whether it’s “right” or “wrong,” and embrace your desire to create. Have a bias towards action (so long as you’re not harming anyone!) and take those steps that you’ve been thinking will move you forward.
It’s important to keep an open mind and be willing to stumble a bit, as this may require you becoming vulnerable and exposed, especially since you haven’t thought everything through and therefore you’re facing a bunch of unknowns and uncertainties. But trust me when I say it will be worth it! And trust in yourself, as well.
You’ll learn more from a little bit of action than you will from endless cycles of thinking.