Imagine life itself came knocking at your door.
And the first thing she said was “How can I help you today?”
“You can have any life you desire. Nothing is impossible. But after you choose it, there’s no going back.”
What would you tell her?
Would you tell her you wanted the life of the person with the perfect body?
That you want to travel the world?
Perhaps become a millionaire?
Those are all very popular goals, judging from my Facebook news feed.
Now that I got rid of all the complainers, bigots and selfie-queens, it’s filled with a new infestation:
Motivational quotes placed in big, bold fonts. Placed in front of beautiful beaches. Or oversized men with undersized penises pumping heavy iron. Or ladies in white clothing jumping around elegantly at 6AM in the morning like they’re in the middle of some Tampon commercial.
You may wonder why I’m being so sarcastic about this. After all, am I not preaching the same thing? Am I not telling people they can achieve anything they want to and don’t have to settle for anything less?
Yup, I am. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for setting your own goals and doing whatever it takes to reach them. But you can’t just hold them in front of you like some Utopian carrot at the end of a very long stick.
You have to realize that whatever bright future you dream off will not be the end of all your problems. You will never sit down in your diamond covered throne and sigh “Ahh… finally! Nothing to worry about anymore. For the rest of my life.”
Even if your days turn out to be filled with nothing else than flying through the sky on pink unicorns while farting rainbows all day, you will have much bigger problems to deal with than the rest of us. How to save unicorns from extinction for example (I mean, they are already pretty fucking rare, let alone the flying ones). And without those creatures, your days of careless fun would be over for good. Plus, farting rainbows is a legitimate reason for concern. Most people who fart rainbows have serious problems with their gastrointestinal system. Have you ever thought about that? Of course not, you only think about yourself ;-).
The thing is: No scenario is 100% positive. Life will always contain some degree of problems/pain/suffering. Thank god. Imagine how boring it would get if you were stuck on that flying unicorn for the rest of your days without anything ever happening to challenge you.
What’s the Catch?
If we look at the 3 examples from the beginning. They are all pretty realistic goals:
Becoming a millionaire, travelling the world, having the perfect body (whatever that means).
They are easy to reach if you are willing to face the problems that come with them:
If you picked the perfect body, you also picked lots of hard work in the gym and calculating / planning your food intake.
If you want to travel the world, you also have to want to say “goodbye” to having any kind of stable home, and “hello” to all the hassle that comes with traveling.
But if you prefer to own a place of your own because you like the security that comes with it, you also welcome the problem of having a mortgage and maintenance costs that don’t go away. Not even if you lose your job or if your partner cheats on you.
There is no ideal scenario. There is only the one you want the most.
Take your love life for example:
When you choose to be a total player/man-eater, you may receive a lot of validation from proving to yourself that so many people find you attractive. But you may miss the feeling of a deep, intimate connection in your life.
On the other hand, when you’re the monogamous type and you’re doing it right, you will experience such a connection. But now you may feel challenged by your level of trust/jealousy at times. Or you may feel limited in your freedom to have fun or connect with other delicious human beings.
When you’re like me you have neither of those problems. But now you have 2 new things to worry about:
• Feeling secure enough in yourself and your relationship(s).
• Having regular deep conversations about your emotions and personal boundaries to ensure you don’t hurt each other and actually still want to be together, which can make you feel really vulnerable.
Whatever your dream life looks like, it will always contain some level of pain. Life is not a Tampon commercial and deep down, you know it. No matter how beautiful those quotes sound, or how good they make you feel to look at while you’re doing nothing, you won’t reach the goal if you don’t want the problems that it comes with.
Deep down, you know, that once that dream becomes reality, your life will still not be problem free. It will just have different problems. The real question is: What kind of problems do you want to have?
Fuck the Destination, Which Route Are You Taking?
Imagine picking your dream life the same way a hiker would pick their trail.
People who are into hiking don’t just do it for the view at the top. Otherwise they would be into helicopting, or jetpacking something like that. Definitely not hiking.
They know they’ll love the view even more than they can imagine. But they enjoy the “suffering” throughout the entire way up. It is the kind of problem they love to have.
I remember a night in 2013 when my band had a gig in Leuven. There were 4 people in the entire audience: The 3 members of the band we opened for, and the bar man. Even the proverbial horse head stayed home. Not only that. We also sucked so bad, that when we played there again the next week, there was only 1 person: The barkeep.
2.5 years later we organized our album release party in Bruges. By this time there were 400 people and no other artists, they came just to dance to our music. That may not seem a lot to you, but after a year filled with all the hardships of being in a band, it meant the world to us. And I found myself thinking “’member Leuven? ‘member the horse head… that wasn’t even there? ‘member Chewbacca? Yeah, I ‘member… Those were the times :-)”
Because even though the view that night in Bruges was amazing, it was just a first stop on a trail that I had been loving from the very first steps. It was very hard. But God, I loved it. (That’s what she said.)
Right now I’m at the beginning of another beautiful trail. Choosing this blog as a career path. Once again, it’s a rough trail that starts with a steep incline. But I’ve come to favor those type of paths. They often have the best view at the top. And get you the sexiest calves from walking them.
Of course this new trail once again comes with problems of its own:
• Feeling less about myself from time to time because I am relying on others for some of my survival needs (like a place to sleep).
• People trying to trick me into coaching them for free
• Often being broke as soon as I pay my bills.
But in spite of those things, I’m loving every second of it.
And the good moments are so worth it. When I get up and see that random people are sharing my articles and spreading my message. Or when I get a notification that someone named Pavol, Luke, Peter, Marian or Ward has donated some money to support this site. It literally makes my day and I feel so much love and gratitude for these amazing people I have never even met. (If any of you are reading this. Thank you so much!!)
I’m sure that a while from now, once I’m earning enough with it to fully sustain myself and this website, I’ll look back on these days and think:
“Member sleeping on your buddy’s floor? Member being hungry all the time? Member when you wanted to take her to a luxury spa but had no money so you took her in the bath tub instead? Member? Yeah, I member : – ) Those were the days.”
And even if I would never get there (but I will), these are still “the days”. I’m enjoying this path as much as the destination.
How to Choose Your Goals
Don’t focus on the problems you don’t want to have and then dream up some imaginary future where they don’t exist anymore. And definitely don’t trick yourself into believing you’ll get there by sharing palm beaches with pretty words in front of them. There’s more productive (or fun) ways to spend your time 😉
Instead, ask yourself: “What problems would I find worth having?” and “Which goals would I find worth having these problems?”
What are you willing to struggle for?
Imagine life itself came knocking at your door.
And the first thing she said was:
“How can I bother you today?”
What would you tell her?