If you’re a rational human being, then you probably have a tiny voice in your head that tells you why certain things are possible and other things aren’t. Most of the time, this is a good voice that can keep you safe. “No, you can’t fly if you jump off this ledge,” the voice will say.
However, this voice can often go too far, actually keeping us locked up in a boring existence within our hobbit-holes! This is the voice we need to keep quiet if we’re going to turn life into an adventure, because it can derail us if we’re not careful.
Fortunately for you, I’m going to systematically and thoroughly destroy any argument this voice in your head might have, so we can shift the focus away from, “I can’t, because ...” and toward “Okay, this is my current situation, let’s fix it.”
1. "I don't have time."
The most common excuse I hear every day for why people can’t level up their lives is “I just don’t have enough time.” We’ve all said it before, and it’s probably the loudest argument that voice in our head will make. We say, “I don’t have time” when life gets busy or when we don’t want to feel guilty about skipping something.
Starting today, that voice in your head is no longer allowed to utter those words. Instead, use the phrase, “It’s not a priority.” Watch how quickly your perspective shifts when looking at life’s challenges this way: “I’d love to exercise, but I just don’t have time” becomes “exercising isn’t a priority.”
With 168 hours in a week, time is our most precious resource. Your priorities, whether you say so or not, are where you choose to spend those hours. It’s not what you say that’s important to you, it’s what you DO that’s important to you.
Of course, if you’re a single mom working three jobs, then I get it: taking care of the kids and putting food on the table understandably must be prioritized over most things. In this situation, we can accept the fact that the Game of Life is being played on Legendary difficulty and you can try to find opportunities to work on the things that will improve your situation whenever and wherever you can.
I challenge the voice in your head, starting today, to erase the phrase “I don’t have time” from its vocabulary. Instead, your voice must say, “It’s not a priority.” If you’re truly committed to building your life into something you’re proud of, that has to take priority over Facebook, video games, watching cat videos on YouTube, TV, and so on.
Once we stop allowing ourselves to say, “I don’t have time” and truly look at where our time is being spent, we’ll find some pockets of time here and there to focus on growth and to complete the quests and missions we need to level up.
2. "I can't afford it."
The tiny voices in our heads that argue for complacency are no strangers to the “I can’t afford it” argument. This argument aims to justify NOT spending money on things that are important. Whether it’s going on a trip or taking lessons, when that tiny voice in your head tells you that you “can’t afford” it, you are left with three options:
- Complain loudly to anybody who will listen
- Stop spending money on the unimportant
- Find a way to make more money on the side
I’ve found the first option doesn’t really help anybody, at all, ever. Let’s look into options two and three, then. Just as we can look at how our time is spent and say, “It’s not what we say that’s important, but what we do that’s important,” a look at our spending history quickly reveals what we’ve deemed important in our lives. Do you:
- Spend $150 a month on cable TV?
- Go out to a $10 lunch each day and grab takeout food on the way home?
- Buy new clothes/shoes monthly?
- Own a car that’s brand-new or leased?
- Own a home that’s bigger than you need?
In order for us to quiet the “I don’t have enough money” critic in our brains, we need to do whatever we can to stop spending money on the unimportant so we can reallocate those financial resources to things that provide us with sustainable happiness.
The Game of Life doesn’t need to be expensive! You often simply need to redefine your vision of how a certain adventure might play out — doing it on the cheap is more adventurous anyway!
3. "I'm too old."
Whoever said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is a liar, liar, pants on fire. Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games at age 46. Tamae Watanabe summited Mount Everest at the age of 73, 10 years after setting the previous record at 63! Even my dad recently retired from his day job after 30 years at 63 to start his own company.
They may be clichés, but age is only a number, and you’re only as old as you feel. Whether you’re 20 or 50 or 80, there’s nothing other than that voice in your head to stop you from making positive changes in your life and focusing on building a game that makes you happy, regardless of your age. Ask yourself: Can I find a way to be happier and healthier today than I was yesterday? Can I find a way to make life more fulfilling today than it was a year ago?
It’s never too late to change, you’re never too old to learn, and you’re never too far down a path to redirect to a different one.
4. "I don't have the same opportunities as other people."
We all see the opportunities or success other people have had, and instead of asking “How can I do that?” or “Where can I get started?” the voice in our head says things like “Must be nice, but ...” or “If only I had [insert random opportunity], then I could succeed.”
We all have to play life on different difficulty levels. Some people are born with superior genetics, or to rich parents, and never have to work a day in their lives: these people are playing the game on Easy mode (and they might struggle with finding true meaning!).
Others are born into broken homes, in Third World countries, with chronic ailments, or into neighborhoods with poor school systems, and they have to play the game on Legendary difficulty. The greater the origin story, the more dramatic the Hero’s Journey. We can either complain about the character we’ve rolled, or we can acknowledge it and then play that character to the best of our ability.
Many times, our circumstances are not our fault. But it is our responsibility to try to change them. Once we accept that, understanding that nobody else is going to dig us out of the hole, we become empowered. We give ourselves permission to forge a new path, to alter our destiny, to change our fate.
So, we need to quiet the voice in our head that keeps saying, “Well, I can’t do this because ... ” We all have baggage. We all have obligations. We all have things about ourselves that we don’t like. Putting all of that aside, we all share one thing that is going to give us a leg up: a genuine desire for a better life — and now, the knowledge to make that a reality.
5. "Life isn't a fairy tale, movie, or game. Be realistic."
When we look at our existence as something that must be endured, every challenge reinforces our negative attitude, and we end up miserable. When we look at life through the lens of a Hero’s Journey, every challenge becomes an opportunity to learn and grow and emerge transformed.
Life is supposed to be fun, and when you feel like you are having fun, more good things happen and there’s more of an opportunity to live a leveled-up life.
Whether you live for another few days or for another 10 decades, I want you to live a life you can be proud of. I want you to look in the mirror with pride each day, and I want you to look back at the end of your life and say, “Yup, I played this game right.”
No more excuses. Instead of coming up with reasons why we can’t do the stuff we talk about in this book, we instead must ask, “Okay, what do I need to do, and how do I need to do it in order to make these things a reality?” Now that we’ve quieted our inner voices and enemies, let’s get started on our adventure.
- A Mini-Guide To Setting Intentions For 2016
- The #1 Secret To Realizing Your Biggest Dreams
- How To Rewire Your Brain & Be Better At Life (According To Science)
Reprinted from Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb. Copyright © 2016 by Stephen Kamb. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.
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