Do you know the one thing that people who have followed their dreams have in common?
None of them knew what the outcome of taking the steps to follow those dreams would be. They didn’t know if things would turn out like they wanted it to or if, instead, they would wind up failing at what they set out to do. They all had to take a leap knowing there was no safety net below.
It is normal when trying to create the life you want to feel some fear. When you are in the midst of doing the hard work to create the life you want, you will wonder if you have what it takes. You will have to come to a point where you have to leave behind the safety of comfort and the known and you must take that jump into the unknown, and you know there will be no net to catch you.
Are there risks to changing? Yes, and there might even be failure. But not really. The worst thing that can happen is that we wind up somewhere different from where we thought we would end up. But, I promise you will have changed in the process. You will have learned. You will be different.
And, you will be farther along the path to becoming the you who you were meant to be than if you had never jumped in the first place.
However, many people have mixed feelings about risk, in part because they sense that facing the things we fear can present solutions to our internal dilemmas. Risk is something you want and don’t want, all at the same time. It tempts you with its rewards yet repels you with its uncertainties.
Like it or not, taking risks is an inevitable and in-escapable part of life. Whether you’re grappling with the possibility of getting married, starting a business, making a high-stakes investment, writing a biograpgy, or taking some other life or career leap of consequence, one of these days, you’ll wind up confronting your own personal high dive.
At its simplest, a net is a series of ropes and knots bound together in such a manner as to create an effective support structure. As a metaphor for life, nets are the family, friends, coworkers, teachers, even short-term relationships, that support us through their kindness, shared wisdom and thoughtful guidance. In short, they are our safety nets. Safety nets come in a multitude of forms. At times, they’re even invisible to us, only to come into view when it seems like all is lost.
But, what if there were no safety net? When you’re standing at the threshold of opportunity, can you trust in yourself to step forward, to take a leap of faith with only your skills, knowledge and scrappy persistence to propel you and protect you? When you’re making the decision to jump or stay put, remember these three thoughts.
We try so hard to control so many things. We try to control the outcomes of our own situations. We try to control our environment, to control others, how they believe, how others choose to love us, how others choose to live.
What if we just stopped? And enjoyed what showed up? Exactly how it shows up. Surrender. Let go. Forget about the safety net and let yourself fly.
You just might end up exactly where you should be.
Smith’s four pillars of meaning — belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence — can help victims recover from severe trauma. They can also aid anyone dealing with the stresses of daily life. These strategies for nurturing the four pillars can guide you through times of adversity.
Write about your experiences, emotions, and thoughts regarding the causes and consequences of the trauma. Research shows that those who write about their lives make better sense of their stories, report better grades, display fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and enjoy more powerful immune systems.
Cultivate a sense of belonging. Feeling part of a larger purpose is vital to finding meaning. A survey of 28 janitors at a large Midwestern hospital found that when they felt doctors or nurses acknowledged rather than devalued them, they began to see their work as meaningful. Many even started to view themselves as caregivers.
Adopt a “meaning” mindset. High school students who believed their studies would allow them to fulfil a life purpose earned better grades in math and science several months later. For more on the power of mindset to help you build resilience.
Experience awe. Highly resilient people tap into sources of strength and power greater than themselves. One study noted that college students who spent one minute viewing a grove of 200-foot-tall trees became more altruistic than those who spent a minute looking at a tall building. Awe-inspired people feel a diminished sense of their own importance, researchers concluded, which leads them to be more generous.
Finally, there is no such thing as luck. Make your own luck by leveraging opportunities that come your way. Do the small things well. Do the hard things without complaint.
As Albert E. N. Gray writes in ‘The New Common Denominator of Success’, “make a habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” In other words, be diligent in everything you do. Not because there is a pending reward, but simply because it is the right thing to do and prosperity of opportunity will certainly find you.
There are no accidents. Be as prepared as possible and then proceed with caution. I love the term cautious optimism. It’s a feeling of general confidence regarding a situation and/or its outcome; coupled with a readiness for possible difficulties or failure.
The law of Flexible Planning states that whatever can go wrong might go wrong. And once you adopt this pragmatic approach to life, you’ll begin shoring up your personal safety nets in the event of the unforeseen or unspeakable. I love Aung San Suu Kyi’s quote: “If I advocate cautious optimism it is not because I do not have faith in the future but because I do not want to encourage blind faith.”
Remember, we are not saved from hardship but out of hardship. Tough times are going to happen to everyone no matter how healthy or wealthy you are.
My father used to say:
“Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.”
One of the greatest safety nets of life is the realization that what you are going through is going to have you emerge on the other side as a more tremendous version of yourself.
Without this truth, I would have given up a long time ago.