"I could never do that" (and other lies we tell ourselves)
I feel like I have had several conversations just in the past week with people where the phrase, "I could never do that..." or "I wish I could try that, but..." or something of that nature is uttered. And while I have certainly been guilty of using that phrase more than I should over the years, I am mostly astounded by the caliber of dudes who have been saying this. These aren't deadbeats or men who lack ambition - these are guys I truly respect, and yet they are buying into this "I could never" mindset.
In this particular context, these conversations were all about hunting. (I feel a disclaimer is in order: in each case the topic was brought up BY SOMEONE ELSE...I AM capable of talking about things other than hunting...did you see that, wife? It does happen!). Though the conversations were all with different people, they all ended the same way: the person thought hunting sounded like an amazing adventure, had given plenty of thought to the idea and aspired to try it some day, but had convinced themselves that the barriers to entry were simply insurmountable and perhaps they would never cross "go hunting" off their bucket list. "It's too expensive to get started...I don't have the time...I wouldn't know where to begin..." All excuses you've probably heard (and maybe even used yourself) before.
Now before this starts sounding like a Tony Robbins "you can do it" speech, allow me to explain why this is bothering me. Over the past year I have done the unpleasant work of uncovering some troubling truths about the way my mind works, some of my default lines of thinking, and the way I tend to process stress and anxiety. There was some counseling involved (which is immensely helpful, by the way...I think everyone should try it at some point in their lives) and tons and tons of reflection and soul searching. I realized that I had allowed myself to feel trapped in almost every way. Trapped at work, trapped at home, trapped with my own quirks and bad habits...conceptually, I believed that change was possible for any human being that wanted it, but I was living as if that wasn't true for me. I was the master of the "I could never do that, because..." and the list would go on and on until I convinced myself that whatever the dream was, I would never be able to accomplish it.
Here is what I have come to believe: that is total horse-crap! For just about anyone in just about any situation, the "I could never do that because..." fallacy is total garbage. It's a lie your brain (and I would argue, the devil) tells you to protect you from the discomfort associated with change. Even if you're not happy with the status quo, change ALWAYS brings unpleasantness of some form, and so our brains work to keep us stuck where we are because it's familiar and comfortable. How many dudes live quiet lives of desperation because there is some dream in their mind that they have convinced themselves could never be a reality? So they watch years slip away convincing themselves that a steady 9-5, nights binging Netflix on the couch, and the occasional vacation to visit Yellowstone in the minivan is the best they could hope for. What if we could all have more than that if we would just expose the lie that "I could never do that" is BS?
This blog on this website coupled with the video content being produced was my "I could never do that" for years. I convinced myself I didn't have the time or the money, and that I hadn't been hunting long enough and wouldn't have anything worthwhile to contribute. Then I had one of those "life is too short" moments. Yes, I'm only 33 and it's a little early for the life is too short freakout. But in reality, life is too short to not chase after the passion that is simmering within you. So, I realized it would only take a minimal financial investment to get myself started, and if I just used SOME of the time I was spending on the couch watching TV, I'd have plenty of time to keep the project going. I have a lot to learn and a long way to go before it's to the level of my original vision, but the fact that I'm actively working on this long-time dream is immensely satisfying.
Now, here's the best part - I didn't have to quit or run away from any of my everyday life responsibilities. I literally just finished watching Night at the Museum 2 with my kids, and the moral of that film seems to be "quit your high-paying unsatisfying job, and be a night security guard with your imaginary historical friends." I don't think that's always the right move.
Any passionate and driven person loves the idea of jumping in head-first and chasing their dream, and it's that all-or-nothing mentality that keeps us from ever trying in the first place. People NEED income, kids like to eat (they're funny that way), and mortgages need to be paid. We can't all "follow our hearts" and do only the one thing we really want to do, because then nothing would get accomplished, ditches wouldn't get dug, and society would crumble.
I say all of that to bring us to this final point of encouragement: get started! Whatever the dream is, whatever your "I could never..." is, just take a small step today. Then take a follow-up step tomorrow. Keep showing up to work (and working really hard, btw...a dream isn't an excuse to phone it in with the people who, in all likelihood, are actually funding your dream), keep engaging with your kids and your family, but carve out a little bit of time and/or money to take one tiny step after another. I can say from experience that even taking little steps quickly scratches that itch and makes you feel like your dream won't forever float out of reach. Man was not meant to live a passionless existence, punching a clock in a cubicle, trying to watch football over the noise of his kids playing, and slipping into retirement one six-pack at a time. We were meant to live an adventure, to create something meaningful, and to let our God-given passions fuel that endeavor.
No more excuses! No more wishing but never doing! Find that small, affordable first step, and get started. You'll suddenly find that you are, in fact, chasing your dream, and you won't have to risk your family's welfare to do it.