Step 4: Start Anywhere
There is no secret sauce. No magic recipe.
There is no linear path or perfect order of operations. This isn’t algebra; it certainly isn’t science. It’s art.
"Modern man is conditioned to expect instant gratification but any success or triumph realized quickly, with only marginal effort is necessarily shallow. Meaningful achievement takes time, hard work, persistence, patience, proper intent and constant self-awareness. The path to such success is punctuated by failure, consolidation and renewed effort. It is wet with the tears of emotional breakdown. Personal reconstruction is art. Discovering one's self, one's talent and ambition and learning how to express it is a creative process so may not be rushed. What's the hurry?" ~Mark Twight
Bruce Mau, a brilliant designer from Canada, wrote this manifesto for design process, however, it is also remarkably useful for your search. But, for the moment, we’re just going to focus on one of his points.
There is no correct starting position, no perfect entry point. No civilized or logical negotiation of the process. This is mad hatter, chaos theory - the butterfly effect in physical form. You move, you act, you feel, you become introspective, you adjust. And, you continue until the world begins to move in your direction, until you begin to feel inspired, or, until you die.
Do not obsess about what to do next. This is not how you discover your deepest passions. Instead, act. Move. Experiment.
Actionable Item: Go rock climbing, write a manifesto, paint a picture, make a phone call, eat some ice cream, visit a hostel, take a photo, sing a song. It doesn’t matter. The end is irrelevant.
Do not think about how you can get paid for this, how you can do it full-time, or, whether or not it’s “worth while”.
Do. Enjoy. Do again. Learn what you love. Go into it as deeply as you can.
How this process played out for me...
I knew I wanted to work online and own my own business. I did some writing, I did design work, I started blogs, I studied passive income, I researched, I read, I dabbled. None of things yielded the returns I was hoping for. But, all of them taught me things. And, with each endeavor I learned what I did and did not like about different mediums, business models and experiences.
I am passionate about motorcycles. I do not know why. Up until 2 years ago I had never owned one. No matter. During my passionate search, I went out and bought one. I validated my passion by experiencing it. Riding motorcycles is awesome. Still, when I first started riding. It was just for pleasure. There was no larger purpose, aim, or connection with the rest of my life.
I love travel. I had never traveled extensively before my current endeavor. But, every time I left home, I never wanted to return. New places and experience excite and motivate me. I enjoy the challenge, the thrill, the taste of a new location. But, I knew and was aware of this long before I knew what to do with the interest. It was just something I thought about, like most people, I would say, “I wish I could travel more.” Step 5: Assume an Inquisitive Nature
You cannot do this on your own. To a degree, circumstance, change, destiny, God, your guides or the butterfly effect (whatever you believe in) will play a role. Make yourself an empty vessel.
Allow new information to enter your world. Start conversations with strangers. Wander through book stores. Consume things that you find intriguing. You will, in time, make discoveries and come upon information that formerly, you did not have.
These experiences will affect you. And, while they are somewhat out of your control, you can increase the likelihood of synchronicity by being available, being active, being social, being hungry and being empty. That is the state in which you will make discoveries.
It is not a state of anxiety, but a state of calm and quiet waiting. An inquisitive nature.
Actionable Item: For one hour every day. Make yourself empty and do some of the activities listed above. Do not seek while you do them. Do them for their own sake, and listen to your heart. Step 6: Let Go of Expectations (Yours and Others)
This process will involve a significant and sometimes severe redefining of yourself. If, you are afraid of what you might lose as a result of becoming someone different, you have already sunk the ship. You must, in every way become utterly and totally independent as an individual and a contributor. You are the spring of knowledge, your worth flows out into the world. You do not seek water, like a pool at the bottom of the waterfall. You are the spring. The giver. The creator.
You must learn to self validate, or you will quit.
Validation does not require success. Instead, validate yourself with your failure. Let your mistakes prove to you that you are moving in the correct direction. “If you aren’t failing, you aren’t even trying.”
I believe the only way to experience courage and self validation is to start breaking norms. Start moving out of what you and your friends think is normal, accepted, or predictable behavior from you.
Actionable item: Write a blog post that resonates with you (but violates norms or what your current social network believes) and share it publicly. Say hi to strangers, engage them. Go fail at a sport or any activity, in front of people. Go dance alone. Go tell someone they’re cute. Do something that other people will be critical of you for, then, let it not matter. Step 7: Build the Pyramid
Every goal, every dream, every endeavor, has specific and logical stepping stones that will get you from where you are now to where you want to go. There is a path out there that is both direct and efficient. However, it is almost impossible to know what that path is.
One common way for people to break through this barrier is to copy the work of others. The thinking is, “If it worked for someone else, it can work for me.” This is true (to a point), however, you will likely discover that only a fraction of someone else’s knowledge will be applicable to your situation. You must also learn to think for yourself. Start by building your pyramid.
Get a piece of paper and draw out a pyramid like the one above. Anything you want in life is built out of smaller and simpler achievements. Once the major stones are laid at the base of the pyramid, other small bocks get layered on top. And, eventually, you can place the final stone, the goal, at the peak. You will have reached your goal.
For example, learning a language is a process that will require a number of building blocks. The peak is fluency, where you are able to converse normally in a language that is not native to you.
Here’s what a language learning pyramid might look like:
Now it’s time for you to draw a blank pyramid and then start filling in the blocks with what you THINK will get you where you want to go. Unfortunately, you will be wrong. The blocks will be labeled incorrectly, and your pyramid will be inaccurate. That’s ok. The point is to get something down, so you can start working. So you can start acting.
Here is the pyramid I created for getting myself mobilized, and traveling the world on my motorcycle.
Now that I’ve achieved that goal, here’s what the actual steps were:
See how different they are?
The first version of your pyramid will be a half-conjured guess, at best. More likely, it will be totally inaccurate or useless. It doesn’t matter. Build it anyway, you can come back later and replace the ill-fitting blocks. The pyramid is your guide, your plan, your point of action that will move you to your next logical location. It doesn’t have to be correct, it just has to exist.
Actionable Item: Decide what you want most. Draw your pyramid. Start acting on the blocks at the bottom.