Many of us work hard to avoid being labeled a fool, but what if that energy is being wasted? What if we’re so busy trying to evade failure that we end up becoming what we were trying to avoid in the first place—a fool who misses out on the beauty and best in life?
My last day at my last job was April 1, 2015—April Fools’ Day. I knew I needed to quit, but as I completed the last two weeks of work, I wondered if I was being a fool to give up a job that held the possibility of advancement and a weekly deposit in my checking account.
When people asked me what I would be doing next, I gave lame answers like
- “I’m not sure,”
- “I’m considering my options,” or
- “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”
Yes, I’ll admit it. My unstated motto in life has been: To Lamely Avoid Stating My Goals So No One Will Know When I Fail and Label Me a Fool
Unaware that my life motto would be threatened, I read a book that kept popping up in e-mails and news feeds — The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins. I didn’t get far before the following sentences called my bluff:
“When we say we don’t know what to do, what we’re really doing is asking something deeper. What we want to know is this: ‘Can you promise me I won’t fail?’ And the answer is no. Of course not. Nobody can promise that.”
–The Art of Work by Jeff Goins
Don’t you hate it when an author jumps out of a book and punches you in the face like that?
You see my lame answers weren’t untrue, but they weren’t the whole truth. I did know what I wanted to do next, but I didn’t know if I would follow through. I knew that if I dared to speak the words out loud in the presence of people who could hear (or read lips), then if my dreams didn’t work out (okay, if I FAILED to achieve them), everyone would know.
But if I kept my mouth shut, and I was the only one who knew I had failed, then it would simply be one more disappointment to file away in the dark forest of my memory. My lack of success wouldn’t be a real failure because no one had been in the forest to hear the words fall from my lips.
Maybe it’s an indication I’m getting closer to my Red Hat Society days, but after working through this latest process of change, I’m becoming less concerned about foolishness and failure. I haven’t had the option to choose all of the the paths I’ve traveled so far, but at this crossroads, I have been given a choice. I can park my caravan here in the relative safety of the known, so worried about dead ends, steep trails, and dangerous drop-offs that I miss out on the beauty that lies along that untraveled path. Or I can choose to follow the unexplored frontier, realizing the potential benefits outweigh the possibility of failure.
So what is it that I want to do?
I’m a writer and thinker who wants to use the power of story and creative communication to help others redeem their Paths Not Chosen by Re-storying Life’s Detours.
This is the direction I want to take my life’s work. I’ve started down this path many times, only to turn around and head back to the safety of the known. The safe. The acceptable and un-foolish choices. (I know. I know. You can’t make a living writing.) I’m still working out the details of how this will play out, but that is part of the adventure in the final frontier I’ve been given to discover.
The rest of your life is your final frontier. Do you accept the challenge to boldly go where you’ve not gone before in order to seek out a fuller life even if failure is a real possibility and some may call you a fool?
Posts in the Series, Making Life Changes
Step 1: Listening to Life
Step 2: Ordering the Clutter
Step 3: Your Life—the Final Frontier, Boldly Going Where You’ve Not Gone Before