Have you ever had an idea that really sparks your imagination, leaves you with giddy excitement and fills every cell in your body with the bright glow of possibility? Maybe it is something you want to do, or somewhere you want to go.
Then, even just a few hours later, that shiny idea has already started to muddy. What seemed so clear in the moment you envisaged it, with the passing of time, has absorbed dirty doubts that make you start to think that perhaps it’s not such a great idea after all.
1. Accept self-doubt and go for it anyway
Now, I am not suggesting that it is wise to wholeheartedly pursue every single whimsical notion that enters our head, but surely it’s worth seriously looking into the ones that manage to stir something in our heart.
We can spend so long talking ourselves out of things, analyzing and considering all the reasons why something might not work out, why something’s not really practical and why so-called ”reality” stands in the way. Some things just seem a bit fanciful because they are so far from what we know and are used to. This doesn’t mean we can’t do them though.
Over 5 years ago, I followed one of these whimsical ideas and quit my full-time job as a news journalist, to try out for size a life on the open road. That restless feeling had been coming and going for many years until one day, a flash in my head told me to just up and leave. I had absolutely no plans whatsoever, and less than one month later, I found myself sat on a plane with a one-way ticket to New Zealand.
One of the great things about traveling is that you realize how one person’s fanciful is another person’s reality. You meet people who have had such a different way of life that it helps you to believe that there really are an infinite number of options open to you.
Just because that is how you have always done things does not mean that you can't make a change right now and choose something different this instance!
2. Become your own superhero
There is a scene in the 1980's movie Supergirl (Yes, I know: I really have my finger on the pulse of cultural references). She has been banished to the Phantom Zone and the only way of escaping is via a huge pit, but it’s kind of like this magical vortex pit… anyway, it’s pretty tricky to get out of.
As she is clawing her way up, exhausted and about to fall, she says with a cry, “I can’t”. Luckily, her wise mentor Zaltar is there to offer moral support and, taking her hand, he replies in a strong and steady voice, “You can! on girl, on!”.
Needless to say this does the trick: she gets her second wind and hauls herself up out of the pit to kick ass and save the world.
My point to this slightly dubious story is that it’s normal to tell ourselves that we can’t. Even Supergirl is prone to the odd bout of self-doubt. It tempts us to give up on something before we have even started.
I wonder what my life would be like now if, when I had this crazy idea to leave my entire existence behind and set off around the world, I had instead decided to sleep on it.
I actually purposely avoided this. Instead, I went straight out and put my house up for rent. That was because I knew that there was a strong chance I would let my thoughts take over something in a moment that I could feel was right.
I shudder to think about the experiences I would have missed out on as I continue to live a free and adventurous life traveling the globe.
3. Be brave enough to take a leap of faith
There is, admittedly, a fine line between reckless idiocy and a bold adventurous spirit, but I passionately believe that life would be a lot better if we focus on all the reasons why we can, rather than dwell on why we can’t.
Unfortunately, I am not mates with Zaltar (we’re not even Facebook friends), so his supportive words are not a source of encouragement I have access to. Instead, I like to ask myself “What is the worst that can happen?”
If the answer is death, homelessness or destitution, then by all means mull it over some more, but if the answer is disappointment, judgment, failure and fear…then dive right in.
Sell your house and live on a canal boat if you’ve always wanted to; quit your job in finance to open a cupcake store, or hitchhike your way across Europe.
Maybe it will suck. Maybe the reality will not be as much fun as the dream. Maybe you’ll lose money and time discovering this. Or, maybe, just maybe, it will be the best thing you ever do.
You’ll never know until you give it a try. The most important thing is that, if you want to, YOU CAN GIRL.