For a few years I wrote dozens of posts here on LandLopers all geared towards helping people find and pursue their passions in life. The reason isn’t entirely altruistic, it’s because I was going through the same process in life and, frankly, the posts were a great outlet for me. A good travel blog is not just a listing of itineraries, or dramatic photos of beautiful people in hotel pools or suites. No, a good travel blog is a reflection of the person writing it, it should be imbued with their personality and reflect who they are as individuals. My site, if nothing else, certainly does that and lately I’ve found a need to once again start planning for an uncertain future, but to do so with optimism and excitement. Part of this personal and professional self-improvement is making resolutions and then accomplishing them, which made me think once again about how ridiculous the concept of a New Year’s Resolution really is.
Don’t get me wrong, I think resolutions are great and I much prefer them to goals. A resolution is an action, it’s making a decision to do something and then doing it. That action is key and is what makes resolutions more enviable than goals. Anyone can have a goal, no matter how unrealistic they may be. Goals are much more amorphous, more warm and fuzzy, they’re the objects of our desires and not necessarily the results. I have a goal of being an astronaut. That’s a nice idea, but guess what? It’s not going to happen. No matter what I do at this point in my life, I will never be an astronaut. However, I can resolve to take steps that will transport me to near space, I can resolve to make enough money to buy a ticket with Virgin Galactic and get there. While not likely either, it hopefully demonstrates that resolutions are actions and goals are ideas or ambitions. So, let’s forget goals now forever and concentrate on how ridiculous having a New Year’s resolution is.
Do Something and Don’t Just Wish For Something
Someone I know is unhappy in her job and it’s obvious to everyone that she should find something new. She refuses though; instead she keeps hoping that her boss will suddenly be easier to work with and that somehow she’ll wake up making twice as much money. That’s not likely to happen, but shows how most people live their lives. They hope that things will improve without doing anything to make them improve. I don’t know if it’s cultural, a sign of the times or what, but from my experience most people have fundamental problems with thinking in the long term. We all like to say that we plan, we budget, we make changes in order to get things done, but the truth is that most of the time we give up too fast and we never see things through. I get a lot of emails from folks asking how to transition from a 9-5 life to a location independent career like the one I currently have. The fact that they’re reaching out and asking that question is, I think, part of the problem. They made a goal to change their life, but they don’t want to take the time to actually consider how to do that, how to plan for that. It’s a question I can’t answer for them either – I don’t know who they are or what their expertise may be, so I have no way of knowing how they can make such a transition. But the specifics aren’t important, what is important is how they approach the challenge.
We are all given a lot of challenges in life, things we want to change or improve. Whether it’s lose weight, meet someone special, travel the world or find that one dream job. They’re challenges that speak to the fundamentals of who we are as people and we usually blame them for a lot of the angst in our life. That’s probably not a fair thing to do. It’s been my experience that it’s not usually one’s weight or job that dictates how happy they may be or not. I’ve known plenty of unattractive people who are happy in their lives and I’ve meet many other people with what I consider to be blah jobs who, if given the choice, wouldn’t change a thing. So what makes them different from those who are so desperate for change that they would do anything?
It’s corny and it’s a little too touchy feely even for me, but I think at the crux of this problem is one’s attitude. I know people who have everything in the world. They live better than 99.9% of the rest of the world and yet they aren’t happy. Millions of people would give limbs to change positions with them, and yet they are cranky and miserable. Why is that? It’s because their attitude sucks. They never see or even look for the positive, instead it’s all negativity all of the time. Before recently, I wouldn’t normally consider myself an optimistic person, but for whatever reason I have changed over time. I think it’s my own unique life experiences that have contributed to it, but nowadays I almost always look for that sometimes-elusive silver lining. And I’ve noticed something not just from my own experience, but in watching others as well – positive people see more success than do the Eeyores of the world. Maybe the universe is rewarding positive intent but, more likely, I think it’s because those with a rosier outlook see opportunities where the negative people do not. Positive people are willing to take chances because they don’t see the inherent pitfalls, they only see potential success. That makes a huge difference and is fundamentally, I think, what lays the groundwork for living a life of positive change instead of one that is reactionary and negative.
Resolutions are Dynamic
Most highly successful people also have strong elements of positivity or, at the very least, they retain their ability to see the glass half full instead of empty. That leads then to a life of possibilities, a yearlong effort of identifying, tackling and fulfilling their own personal resolutions. For those of us though who don’t tend to be naturally optimistic, it can be a challenge to maintain this. When transitioning from a traditional job to what I do now, I was full of hope, optimism and hard work and that all lead to me being able to make this a career. In the last year though I’ve fallen into a rut and those positive feelings have vanished. In their wake they’ve left me with some challenges that I need to tackle in the new year. I know that in order to do that, to regain what I consider a level of success I need to plan, but I also need to be proactive and positive as I do so. But I didn’t wait until New Year’s Eve to make these decisions, to start taking the actions necessary to affect change. No, it’s been an evolving process and that’s because resolutions aren’t static, they’re dynamic. Resolutions are constantly changing and evolving along with us, and it’s important that we recognize how they change, even if subtlety, and change with them. We can’t wait for New Year’s to start doing something positive, especially since it’s likely we won’t keep up with it. No, instead throughout the year you need to consider what is it about yourself or your life that you want to change and then methodically identify ways to make those changes. It isn’t rocket science, it’s a fundamental truth that I think most of us want to ignore, but it really and truly is the only way to achieve a more permanent form of success.
And so to those folks looking for someone to hand them the answers to their life’s problems on a silver platter, this cannot be done. It took me several years to transition from a 9-5 job to one of my own devising and along the way I made plenty of mistakes and nearly gave up on more than one occasion. But I kept moving forward, always forward, with dogged determination because I had (and have) the belief that as long as I worked hard enough, everything would be ok. That’s a positive outlook on life, and it’s this combination of self-realization, hard work and positivity that hasn’t just made all the difference in my life, but which I believe will make all the difference in your life as well.