If you throw your hat over a fence, the only way to get that hat back is to climb that fence. I love the simplicity of this metaphor; if you want something throw it over the fence, and if you want it bad enough you’ll go get it. Let’s be honest, we can have hundreds of places we want to visit and a thousand things we want to do, but for each one we can also think of a million reasons why it is not possible.
The fact is, it is easier to do nothing and dream up excuses, especially if life is great. Your only motivation is some vague dream of what life could be like, along with a perceived risk of losing what you already have.
But you’re wrong. There is so much more to gain. Yes, life could get worse, you might only improve your life marginally but the risk of doing nothing is far greater. If you do nothing you simply sit still, you exist and that’s it! Could there be anything more boring or unfulfilling than that?
Danger, sadness, worry, risk, disappointment; those feelings make you feel alive and they imply change. Change is good, it is innate in all of us (some more than others) just as the desire to eat, sleep and have sex. It is why kids spin around to make themselves dizzy, why we take a different route home for no reason. We crave new experiences, we seek to change our perspective from time to time, we need to move and have a responsibility to each other to explore and discover new things.
If life is about experience then living the same experience over and over again is the antithesis of life, stuck in a pattern that hinders and stifles your growth and happiness; that is what defines unhappiness.
It is easy to agree that you need a change, but it does not make it any easier to commit to your goals or ensure you stay on the path towards what you want. Our minds are powerful and doubt and irrationality is a part of life, even when you are aware of it. It can still poison your hopes and dreams.
This is why I like the idea of throwing your hat over the fence. If you want something, really want something, throw your hat over that fence, the fence surrounding that particular goal. Make not achieving your goal worse than the prospect of doing nothing.
This could be a number of things, putting a financial investment into that goal, even telling your friend that you will pay them 50 dollars if you don’t achieve it by a certain date. Tell everyone you know what you are going to do and when you are going to do it, put yourself under pressure. Make failing to achieve your goal embarrassing, enough so that it’s not an option.
Two years ago I heard about a volunteer program in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador. I thought to myself wow! Imagine that I could go to the Amazon and live in the jungle for a few weeks that would be incredible.
“You could never afford it,” I thought.
“How could you manage to get that to work?”
“I’m not the kind of person who does things like that.”
But then I thought,
“I really want to be the type of person who does that.”
The program required that I put a non-refundable deposit of $350 to secure my spot in the program. At this point I was at university with no job and $400 in my bank account. So what did I do?
I paid it. Uh oh, now I have $50, no job and 7 months to get the money for the rest of the program or I have essentially lost $350. A month later I got a job, I worked hard and saved and by February 2013 I was in the jungles of Ecuador.
A similar situation lead me to Colombia this year. I fell in love with the country two year ago when I spent a week in Cartagena and Medellin.
I thought to myself, “I would love to live here, I wonder if it’s possible.”
When I got back to Australia I found out it was possible, I could go on exchange through my University. I immediately started telling everyone that I was going to Colombia to study next year (This was before I even started my application). I told everyone who would listen that this was what I was going to do. People got excited and would say things like, “you’re going to Colombia to live next year right?” My response was always, “Yeah of course can’t wait.”
Fast forward two years and I am back in the Jungles of Ecuador having just completed almost a year of travel and study through North and South America. For me the shame and embarrassment of not going to Colombia after telling everyone I was, motivated me to work hard and ensure that I got into the exchange program and saved the money I needed. Once I got to this part of the world I found my sense of adventure and haven’t stopped since.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, but if you really want something, invest everything in it, make the prospect of not achieving your goals unbearable and unacceptable. Where ever you want to travel, whatever you want to do you can get there, just don’t be afraid to throw that hat over the fence!
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” –Henry David Thoreau
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