Hitting Eject

Look before you leap they say, while others suggest Leap and the net will appear.

"Haste makes waste" is thrown around while "those who hesitate are lost" lingers.

"Follow your dreams; follow your passion" they often say, but when you aim for something less conventional, you'll be met with a chorus of "be practical." How can it be both? After all, how are we to achieve our dreams or passions if our time is spent merely surviving?

And what the hell are we supposed to learn from this advice? 

Well, it appears that our elders seem to have just as little clue about our futures as we do. In other words, we have to figure it out for ourselves.

There have been two sentiments that have helped me navigate this minefield of conflicting messages. The first:

"Those who have given up on their dreams will encourage you to give up on yours"
Always keep in mind that the advice we receive from loved ones is geared toward our best interest. They believe they're helping us by getting us to avoid taking risks. They may have attempted to achieve their own dreams and were crushed. That hurts. Of course it does - and they want to spare us the same pain. It's out of love, not malice. Either way, ignore it and put yourself out there. The outcomes will be that you succeed, or you learn something that increases your chance of succeeding.

And the second sentiment is:

"Security Robs Ambition"
A mildly uncomfortably, moderately profitable 9-5 will build complacency as we become afraid of losing the very thing we may grow to despise. Fatalistic, I know, but it - on top of the whole "no idea what I wanted to do" - was a reason I never wanted full time hours at one location. I also get bored easily.

And What have I got to show for it?

Zilch. At least, by measure of society's conventional yardstick. My net worth is still in the red, I've got no real assets other than my education, and a less than impressive CV. What a complete, and total failure.

Or rather, that's the lens that's often applied to me. And they're right - by those measures. Instead, I have a lot of strong connections with great people who are also doing cool things, varied life experience, and had a helluva lot of time to think about a broad variety of topics.

After spinning my tires trying random fringe pursuits,* I started moving toward the more practical.

My focus is - and always has been - focused strongly on what I can control, which is a nice way of saying I'm self-centered. An element of that is required, along with brutal honesty, to really see what you're doing right and what you're not.

What was I doing wrong?

Analysis paralysis is a problem. It's when you think about something for so long that either you miss the opportunity to act, take no action because you don't know which is best, or you convince yourself that the ultimate conclusion of that action would lead somewhere you do not want. This last one is why I didn't go to grad school.

Despite trying to keep myself hungry and as uncompromising about my ideals as I could, I came to realize that I had found a semblance of security that I was afraid of losing. I had a great job with too few hours, an excellent group of friends, and none of it was going anywhere.

Time for Something Drastic.

I decided I wanted to flee the country. I like putting it that way, though I was running toward what scared me rather than away. If you've been following this blog, you may notice that I have a strange relationship with fear. I despise it, yet know it is inevitable for any healthy, functioning person. Instead of letting it control us, it can be used as a dowsing rod to lead us toward the spring of personal growth;
What we fear most is often what we most need to do.
The idea of teaching English in Korea was kicking around ever since I had a conversation in a bar with friends of friends who had done it for a couple years. Yes, Korea. I thought about it, but never with any real seriousness or conviction. You know, that thing you think would be amazing, but.. no, not you. It's not something you would actually do. Just a fun little idea to think about. And so it went back in it's mental drawer, waiting to be forgotten.

Another year passed. I was in still the same situation as the previous year, probably worse, which prompted me to apply for a cushy position teaching in Korea.

I was rejected.

But hey, if the idea was good enough to apply for once, it was good enough to fight for. I started looking deeper and reconsidered which country I wanted to go to. Mandarin seemed a lot more functional than Korean, and understanding China would certainly be beneficial.

China it was.

Hitting Eject

I sold my car, told my jobs that I was out, and headed to Australia. The China job I accepted didn't start until September, so rather than continue in the self-imposed hell that was barely keeping my head above water, I decided to try my luck on the world's largest island.**

Now, I am out of this comfortable hell and into an uncomfortable adventure that has set me on a unique path which I intend to continue until its end. Nothing will stop me from continuing to pursue it - except myself. This is true for all of us. If we look at any situation and start thinking about how we might be able to succeed at our craziest goals, then we'll move toward taking steps toward it. Eventually, we will switch it over from an abstract maybe into something concrete some day soon.

I'm not saying I have any answers. What I have is what makes sense to me now and what has helped me move from the sludge of being "motivated, but directionless" into "purposefully taking actions toward a concrete ideal."

What is that ideal? To consistently make a livable income from anywhere in the world. That's the target.

Through my travels and self-exploration, I plan to tweak, prod, and experiment until something works. Here are my struggles along the way, complete with ideas and perspectives that helped me.


Six words:

"A Rising Tide Raises All Ships"

If this helps me, then it can help you. If it can help you, then we can all move ahead, together. I invite you to join me in my journey of Hitting Eject.

*Here's a list of stuff I "wasted" my time on: sleight of hand (palming coins and small objects), lock picking, cold reading, hypnosis (traditional and conversational), mnemonics (memorizing lists, mnemonic systems, memorizing card decks), music (guitar, bass), visual art (pixel art, photoshop, graphite, markers), productivity systems (mental, social, intellectual, physical), physical training (weights, calisthenics), martial arts (judo), meditation, reading (strictly non-fiction; psychology, leadership, self-improvement mostly), programming (python, javascript, amateur hacking), story telling, public speaking, writing (mostly nonfiction, rarely fiction (I even wrote a book once)), riddles and logic problems, video game design, designing experiments, brewing alcohol (mostly cider, sometimes beer), business, marketing, advertisement, tea (red, white, green, black, matte, but not so much oolong), and coffee (lattes, cappuccinos, and even roasting (use a popcorn popper))

**It's actually the world's smallest continent, but let's keep that between us.

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