I recently wrote an article that I thought might inspire others to go after their dreams, to cut out fear and build a life that works for them. I quit a job that was making me miserable, lost 170 pounds and moved my family to Hawaii. The overall reaction was positive, but if you look through the Facebook comments, you'll notice something that's become far too common: We're automatically skeptical when we encounter success.
Every day, we're exposed to so much bad news. It can be on TV or the radio, but traditional media loves to highlight all the things that go wrong in society. We see too many stories of the worst of who we are.
Absorbing this news day in and day out has conditioned us to observe and react to situations in a certain way; we're more likely to believe bad news before we would accept good news.
Of course there are positive stories on the news and in our lives every now and then, but since we're used to the negative, we tend to brush them off as "luck." We pick apart the story and try to see what lucky break that person got to help them.
But when you see these stories, it's important to remember one key factor that unites them all: there are no overnight successes. When you see someone experiencing a triumphant moment or a seemingly fortuitous change in circumstances, it's usually because that person put in the hard work and the time it takes to get to a happy place.
There are exceptions, of course — a person who won the lottery, for example — but those aren't the rule. When you see a story of success, there's a back story of someone who busted his or her butt to make it happen.
Too many of us use negative experiences to keep us from the amazing life we could, and should, be living. We need to stop being skeptical, and start wondering how we can make our dreams become reality.
It took three years, and more determination than I thought was possible, but I radically changed my life. I accomplished three goals that I convinced myself were impossible. I worked hard and failed too many times to count, but I licked my wounds and got back up running. That's what it takes to experience one of those inspiring stories we're skeptical of.
It all starts in the mind. If we believe something is impossible, we'll give up before we've even started. If we're skeptical of inspiring stories, we won't really try to see what helped those people. The game is over before it's begun.
We have to step outside of our comfort zones and dip our toes in the water. We have to sit down and get honest about what we really want from life, and the kind of life we want to live.
Life is short, and we only get once chance to live it. Time is the one thing we'll never get back. We could spend our whole lives being skeptical and die full of regret, or we can get curious about what's possible.
Doubt, fear and the skeptical voices of others have held too many of us back for far too long. It's time for us to stop following the crowd. It's time to stop waiting for someone to give us permission to do all the things we really want to do in life.
My story is unique, but it can be your story, too, if you do something about it. I didn't have half a million dollars in my bank account when we moved to Maui; my wife and I have lived paycheck-to-paycheck most of our marriage. I didn't do some crazy diet or have surgery to lose 170 pounds; I busted my butt every day for more than a year. I didn't win the lottery to quit my day job; I wrote my heart out and built a strong online business.
There's no mystery here. Hard work made my dreams a reality, and can do the same for you. Choose what's possible over being skeptical. Choose your dreams over regret.