‘Tis the time of year where we look back on years previous and define what we want to accomplish moving ahead.
We make lists of things we want to accomplish. We give said things deadlines. We make checklists of the habits we’re going to create that will help us achieve what we want to achieve. We think we know what we want, but we never spend the time nor do we dig deep enough to define what, precisely, our idea of ‘life’ is. (Read This: The Ultimate Guide to Setting Life-Changing Goals)
Heck, I don’t. I think about it, ponder it in passing, even settle down for an evening of scotch and a cigar and a book and let both help such a question percolate. I don’t, however, give such a question the time, focus, or strategic planning that it deserves.
It seems like it’s not a tangible question. Too much philosophy involved, and too much change from year to year to give it a day or a week of reflection and strategy. We see the question of ‘what is living’ as a life long pursuit. It’s why we’re here, it’s what we’re here to answer and most of us don’t think we’ll ever actually answer it.
We sure don’t feel like we’re living right now. We wake up and exist on autopilot. Some of this is due to necessity. We’ve crafted a routine that allows us to perform on a level we’re satisfied with, but when was the last time we genuinely felt alive? It was probably on a trip where we did something dangerous or out of character.
Out of character…
What’s ‘in character’?
Is it being safe and conservative about how we act and what we pursue?
We exist in a bubble, afraid to step outside of it into a dangerous world, a sink-or-swim atmosphere of struggle, strife, pain, failure, and seemingly endless amounts of work. We’d rather avoid the discipline that a grand attempt at living requires for the safety of a relatively easy and persistent routine that asks little of us.
This is largely because we’re afraid of the wrong thing.
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
We fear death more than we fear not living.
WHAT IS LIFE?
I’m trying to figure this question out myself. What I do know is that it’s filled with contradiction.
The dichotomy is that you need adventure, you need to get outside of your norm, but you also need discipline and focus or else you’re not going to accomplish much. (Read This: The Lost Art of Discipline)
Accomplishment has to be a big part of life, but it can’t be the only part of life. Discipline exists not only to accomplish, but to give freedom.
The man with no discipline may live for a time in an adventurous state, but at some point he’ll be too fat, too broke, too lazy to venture into the corners of the world where his definition of life is found.
On some level, we exist to accomplish. Accomplishment is the realization of our potential. It’s putting our talents and interests to use, and not just for ourselves, but for the betterment or enjoyment of others.
Developing a skill, mastering it, then creating something with it is accomplishment. It takes a great degree of discipline to do such a thing. It takes focus and clarity and intelligence.
Accomplishment is a massive part of life. Without it, in a life where we exist purely for existing’s sake, we serve no purpose. We can have pleasure, happiness, and joy, but without doing something, we serve no purpose, and it’s purpose that holds more weight than pleasure.
Pleasure is cheap. It gives us finite thrill and happiness. Accomplishment is hard won. It takes time, effort, and persistence.
No matter your definition of living, be it filled with daring adventure or family life, it is won on the back of effort. You cannot get something without giving something of equal or greater value, and often that thing you give is effort over time without the guarantee of reward.
Most people will read that last line and instead choose an easier way of life. When you’re not trying to become very good, even great, at anything, you can excuse yourself from this requirement of persistent effort, but you then also have to excuse yourself from winning. That is, you’re not going to become the man you have the potential to become because you didn’t dare to aim high enough.
Whatever you think you want to accomplish right now, aim higher. The higher the better. More audacious is more exciting, and excitement is where life is found.
While the masses exist in worlds where they know they can do what they set out to do with moderate amounts of risk and effort, dare far mightier if you want to truly live.
Adventure & Daring
There’s a reason why we like adventure movies, action movies, movies where fellas go beyond what we’re able or willing to do; we see adventure, wading into dangerous situations, and exploration, as living.
It’s the height of living.
Read Farther Than Any Man, by Martin Dugard, and tell me that Captain James Cook doesn’t inspire you. Exploration is at the heart of what it is to be a man. We’ve always wanted more. We want to find out what’s hiding around the corner, what’s beyond our knowledge.
Accomplishment and adventure is what living boils down to.
Yes, relationships and family and building a legacy are incredibly important, they’re necessary to live a flourishing life, but to live, to use your time engaged in living rather than intending or wishing or wanting, is to work and embark on the most grand adventures you can possibly embark upon.
On both spectrums of life, you need to dare. Whether it’s setting the most ambitious goals you can set for your career, your work, and your craft, or sprinkling some daring into your journeys.
What’s been done, what your friends are doing, what you’re told to do, these cannot be your focus. There’s nothing exciting in achieving something that took no guts or grit. There’s nothing exciting about sitting on your ass for an entire vacation, staying within the confines of your gated community.
Whatever you do in life, dare greatly.
About The Author
Chad Howse: Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.