To dare in life is to make yourself vulnerable to the possibility of failure. Most of us don’t welcome failure. So instead we avoid taking risks. We compromise, taking cold comfort in the assumption that we’ve removed the possibility of failure as we buckle up in the passenger seat and let life take the wheel.
The truth is, there’s no avoiding failure. While failure may never feel good, failure in a life of compromise can be twice as devastating. Let’s say you didn’t take that exciting job overseas because it was easier to stay where you were. Then, out of nowhere, you lose your comfortable job. Now you have to contend with the loss of two jobs—one of which could have been a transformational experience. You’ll never know, but chances are you’ll never stop wondering what might have been.
Don’t let fear dilute your life. Take, for example, Heather Caliri, who had struggled with performance anxiety since childhood. It hijacked her joy and her courage to try new things, take risks, and enjoy the things she loved most. There was no more obvious or bewildering example of this than her love of reading.
After having kids, she found less and less time to indulge her simple joy of sitting down with a book. She realized that performance anxiety had spread into her reading habits. She felt as if she didn’t read enough, widely enough, or the right kinds of books. The more self-conscious she became about her reading habits, the harder it was for her to make time to read.
What We're Reading This WeekGet recommendations for the greatest books around straight to your inbox every week.
When she started Bullet Journaling, she was surprised at how motivating it was to “X” off boxes and how much she enjoyed the creativity of representing her daily life in beautiful ways in her notebook. Still, she hesitated to track her reading. It’ll only make me more anxious and aware that I’m not reading enough, she thought. When she finally created a “Books Read” Collection, she was shocked to find that the opposite was true. She read a lot. The issue wasn’t that she lacked motivation; it was that she walled herself off from trying, lest she fail.
Heather formed the habit of giving herself more credit for her efforts. The more she read, the more she felt at ease with herself. She began feeling the joy, excitement, and eagerness to read that she’d missed for years. Her Bullet Journal helped her to systematize her reading to overcome the barriers she’d felt. When we grant ourselves the opportunity to be rewarded by our courage, powerful things can happen.
There never has been, nor will there ever be, another like you. Your singular perspective may patch some small hole in the vast tattered fabric of humanity. Uniqueness alone, however, does not make you valuable. If you don’t do, if you don’t dare, then you rob the world—and yourself—of the chance to contribute something meaningful. As the French film director Robert Bresson once said, “Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.” If you don’t try something, it will assuredly never exist. Not your version, anyway. True, not all endeavors will be successful, but even our so-called failures can be valuable teachers.
We must take it upon ourselves to grow. We grow by learning, and we learn by daring to take action. There will always be risk, because we can’t control the outcome. This is the way of life, and it’s unavoidable. What is avoidable, however, is being perpetually haunted by all the things that could have been if you had only dared. Begin by giving yourself permission to believe you’re worth the risk.
Listen to the audiobook excerpt here:
Excerpted with permission from The Bullet Journal Method © 2018 by Ryder Carroll. Published by Portfolio.