Your willingness to take those risks, especially when you’re young, is the difference between an average life and an extraordinary life.
Ryan Holiday, best-selling author
If someone has those four things – work ethic, taste, integrity, and curiosity – I believe you can learn anything in the world.
Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress
If you don’t take risks, you already know your path. Your path will be well-trodden. Your path may fulfill some. But for most people? The traditional track will bore you out of your fucking mind. The traditional path is mediocrity.
Think. If you don’t take risks in life, what is the path? High school. College. Job. Job into a career. Career, and family. Old age. Death.
I’m not saying you won’t find fulfillment in there. I’m not saying that path isn’t your destiny, the exact way that you end up happy. I’m saying that most people who are fulfilled, didn’t take that path.
They didn’t follow that specific herd.
People who have great stories. People who have dream jobs. People who have done legendary, admirable, enviable things, didn’t take that path.
Everybody wants to be happy. But look to the future. Look to your parents. Look to older people.
I recently worked a high school reunion. A thirty year high school reunion that was at my local bar. It went until midnight.
Fifty year old men and women. A lot of them rude. A lot of them clearly not content with how their lives turned out. A lot of them wearing nice clothes that were at odds with their spiteful persona.
At some point in the night, a man I vaguely knew came up to me in a drunken haze. Some words were exchanged. And then he got around to the sentence he had in mind when he sauntered up to me.
“But shit, at least I look a hell of a lot better than most of these fuckers, right?”
That’s your opinion. It might even be true. But no fifty year old man who is indeed happy and at peace with his life, needs to say that.
And everyone says they want to be happy, but they follow the exact same path as everyone else. High school. A rip-roaringly drunk early twenties, followed by the late twenties family and career. And before you know it you’re getting way too drunk at a thirty year high school reunion.
If you don’t want to end up there, then the cycle needs to be broken.
And that means being daring, and taking risks.
“But how do I take risks? Where is the textbook, where is the course that teaches me how?”
There is no secret. You take risks that most people wouldn’t take. Like passing up a well-paying job in some city, to pursue something you love in the arts. That’s a risk. Who do you know that passes up a paycheck over something iffy at best?
Most people don’t. That’s why they’re unhappy. And the people who do pass up that paycheck? They tend to be the happy ones. It’s a risk.
Passing up school to travel. Some people might view that as a risk. But that’s also what separates you from the masses. Taking risks like that, saying no to money in pursuit of fulfillment, that’s what separates your life from average.
If you want to be happy, start with being different.
You won’t be happy following someone else’s path.