1. EMBRACE UNCERTAINTY
Uncertainty. How often do we avoid that word? Human beings are wired to find comfort in proof, solidity, and guarantees. They make certificates, diplomas, insurance policies, and rings for people to sleep better at night so they know there is certainty in their lives. But certainty doesn’t count the uncontrollable factors that come out of nowhere, leaving us blindsided. That’s when we lose control. We panic. We suffer. We linger on the “what-should-be’s” and “what could-have-been’s” while rendering our lives unworthy if things don’t go our way. And the truth is this: There are no guarantees in life. No promises, no certificates, no diplomas that will protect us from real life happening. These are just things that have a physical meaning to our society, but it is not an infinite guarantee.
Nothing will ever truly, completely, undeniably promise you anything in this world because change is the only thing that is constant. Things will happen to you, they will be out of your control and you will be given only two choices: Suffer. Let it crawl under your skin and worry until you curse everything under the sun. Or accept. Let go. Really let it go. And teach yourself how to breathe in the air of uncertainty.
2. KNOW THAT FEAR = FREEDOM.
Fear is that uncomfortable, familiar, numbing feeling that freezes us in our comfort zones and keeps us stagnant. We make up a million excuses solely to keep our fears and demons at bay but the thing is, fear is an illusion. It’s a chain reaction triggered by the chemical rush produced by our bodies and makes it feel like it’s real. However, it’s one of the biggest illusions that hinder us from our own greatness.
In the end, fear is just fear. It’s part of being human and we need a small dose of it for survival. But when you let it take the wheel and navigate your entire life, that’s when you’re trapped.
Close your eyes and picture all the things in your life that you are terrified of the most. Then imagine how it would feel once you overcome it and once it no longer controls you. What do you feel? Freedom? Relief? Joy? Do you feel alive? Good.
So feel the fear and do it anyway because at the end of every fear that shackles us, there is freedom. Most of the fears we have are just blocks in the path towards our greatness. Once we realize this, then transformation begins.
3. TAKE A STEP.
If we take the first step, then the rest will follow. The destination seems daunting sometimes, like a mountain looming over our heads. We want to get to the top and we dream about the moment we finally get there, but by chasing the future we lose sight of the beauty of the present moment.
Over a year ago, I was somewhere in the Himalayas on my first high altitude trek that sent me to the base camp of Annapurna, the 10th highest mountain in the world. I had never done any high altitude treks before, and a year before that I did a three-day trek to a lake in Myanmar wearing flip-flops. Before that, I did an 8-hour hike in the Grand Canyon. Before that, I would hike some short trails around California. Before that, I was a girl who had never hiked a day in her life. And if that girl knew that years from that point she would be doing what I did, she wouldn’t believe it for a second.
The point is, we have to start somewhere. The baby steps are small at first, but lead to bigger steps. Then the biggest steps will lead to miles. Then the miles will lead us to the next mountain. And before you know it, you’ll be running from one mountain to the next. Whatever your definition of a mountain may be.
4. DO SOMETHING YOU’VE NEVER DONE BEFORE.
“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Christopher McCandless
Monotony is life’s silent killer. Most people live their days to just exist, they forget what it feels like to truly live. When you’re in a constant soul-sucking routine, life is nothing but numbers and clocks. Snooze the alarm. Get ready. Get from point A to point B as fast as you can. Climb the ladders. Go home. Prepare yourself for the next day. Rinse. Repeat. There is no color in routine, not even black or white. It’s just gray. The world is right there, you see the sky and the sun but you feel like you are in an inescapable bubble. The best way to get out of that trap is to do something you’ve never done before in your life. Drifting out of the well-paved path and going off into an unbeaten path will seem scary at first. But what’s scarier is living a life staying in the same exact place without trying at all. You don’t have to fly halfway across the world to do it but if that’s what you want, do it. Go for a hike somewhere on your own without a cellphone or a map. Instead of going to the movies at the weekend, take your car and drive without a specific destination. Maybe a cooking class for Ethiopian cuisine. Maybe try out that yoga teacher training course you’ve been dreaming about. Sign up to volunteer for a homeless shelter. Get rid of all the things you don’t need and take a year off to travel. It could be anything – big or small, as long as you start anew.
5. GET COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE
Comfort and monotony go hand in hand. It’s often disguised as nice things like “contentment” or “happiness” or “goals” or “certainty”. People like to pretend they need things because they’ve become slaves to these comforts. It’s as if they come down to the basement to feed it every night, because when they don’t then discomfort will burn the house down. At least that’s what they’ve come to believe. It’s called the comfort zone because everything else outside of it is scary, painful, hard, and just plain uncomfortable, so why would we ever want to leave comfort? Well, outside of comfort is where the magic happens. It’s where growth, resilience, strength, courage, and tenacity breeds. These are things that may not feel comfortable at first, but if you want to be able to conquer anything you’ll need to throw yourself outside of that zone.
6. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE.
It doesn’t matter where you are, who you are, or how old you are – it’s never too late to do what you want to do in life. We are all on our own different journeys and timelines. For what happens early for some people will happen much later for some, and that’s okay.
Many of the most influential people of our time were late bloomers. A late start is better than no start at all and remember all the above: Embrace uncertainty and let go of the incessant need to be in control. When you face your fear, know that freedom is just on the other side. If you’re scared to go on the journey of a lifetime, all you need to do is take the first step. Break the soul-crushing cycle of monotony by taking a leap. And learn how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
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