I’ll let you in on a little secret: people are full of shit.
I mean everyone. You, me, your friends, your family. Well, that’s pretty harsh, and I’m sorry for cussing. But to an extent, it’s true, and here’s why.
People never stop “faking it until the make it,” because no one ever makes it. So, in reality, everyone’s faking it. Faking what you ask? Well, faking the fact that they got it all figured out. Faking the fact that they’re exactly where they want to be in life. So take a deep breath, breathe, because you’re not the only one.
It feels nice, doesn’t it? To know you’re as confused and lost as the person sitting next to you. I know it makes me feel better finally saying it out loud. Because the truth is, that although we show outward displays of confidence and approach life with a firm direction, on the inside, all we are are blind mice running in the best direction we can find. And if you’re familiar with blind mice, you know that a “direction,” to them, is a frantic line that zigs and zags.
In that way, it’s important that we think of our lives as one that moves from left to right as much as forward. Because even the people who seem like they’re heading in a straight line, are more than likely on a straight line left or right, and hoping that it’s actually forward.
But is this a good strategy? Certainly not. We all know that no matter our goal, even if that goal is to figure out a goal, it has a specific destination. The catch-22 is that we’ll almost certainly take a roundabout way of getting there (if we get there at all) and rarely take a straight line. Which, if you think about it, is actually the best life strategy possible: taking a roundabout way.
Think about your life like a game of pinball, and you’re the ball (ouch!). When you shoot yourself out of the cannon, you fly up and then back down, directly towards the destination at the bottom. The ball, because of gravity and the slant of the board, knows exactly where to go. So too is the powerful draw of a personal goal.
Then, as it always happens in life, things pop up, and in the case of pinball, they pop up literally. So, you as the ball, bounce around obstacles and through narrow passes, inching ever closer towards the destination. And maybe you make it. And maybe you don’t. If you don’t, you reload the cannon and shoot yourself out, adopting a new strategy based on your learning from your previous game.
So too is life, is it not? Well, it should be. Because the obstacles aren’t going anywhere and you better be as resilient as a pinball. I know I know, how can pinball be a metaphor for a good life strategy? It seems reactive at best and completely based on blind luck (see what I did there).
Well, if you believe that you’ll face pitfalls on your journey no matter the precaution, which you will, then you should view them as necessary and positive to the attainment of your goal. You should think of them as experiences that are giving you skills that will benefit you in the achievement of your ideal life. And the catch, again? Well, the catch is that your ideal life might not even be in the direction you think.
And there’s where the power of experiences come into play. It’s the experience itself that will either move you closer to your goal or redirect you towards the goal you really wanted but never knew. Because the experiences of life are what actually propel you forward. They’re what give you motion and inertia. Very rarely will they shoot your directly forward, but they’re the only things that give your life movement at all, and you have to use them as tools.
So what if an experience shoots you off like a pinball at a 45-degree angle from your intended destination? You’re moving forward. All you have to do is have another experience that corrects your course back to center. And what if that experience, like an obstacle in pinball, overcorrects your trajectory and shoots you 45 degrees the other way? Great. You’re still moving forward.
Experience by experience, you’re getting yourself closer to your ideal life. In this way, life experiences are the key, even one’s that send you off in unintended directions. In fact, often times those are the best ones to have.
So unless someone comes straight out and tells you, “yeah, I have a vision of my ideal life and I’m trying my best to get there, but I’m just taking it one step at a time,” they’re lying. This doesn’t mean they can’t be confident that they’ll get to your intended destination. What it means is that they have to understand that it probably won’t be a point A to point B trajectory.
Because everyone who says they have it all figured out is full of shit. The only ones who do have it figured out are the ones who admit they don’t, and then accumulate experiences in the areas of their interests.
Remember: It’s the experiences themselves that are the roadmap, not obstacles to be avoided as you navigate a roadmap.
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