We often complain that our life is monotonous and boring. We all want to escape the ordinary and start doing awesome things. But the biggest obstacle on our way to an awesome life is the start. We all have fears that hold us back from following our dreams that we struggle to overcome. Jon Acuff in his book Start teaches us how to start our journey to being awesome and the stages involved in reaching there.
The first thing to do to become awesome is to ‘punch fear in the face’. Fear convinces us that our dreams are unattainable and that we shouldn’t try fulfilling them. Writing down our fears and exaggerating them will show us how silly our fears are and will stop them from controlling our dreams. Another way to overcome fear is to simply start doing whatever it is we are afraid of. Understanding that we have no control over how things will turn out, but can control when things will happen should give us the push to start our journey.
To become awesome, there has to be a balance between being a realist and a dreamer. We should be realistic when assessing our current situation, but a dreamer when envisioning our future. But we shouldn’t be wildly unrealistic. We should take into account our current responsibilities that can affect our pursuit of dreams. Our current reality should act as a base for us to start on our dreams. What we can do is write down our dreams along with small steps that will help us reach them. This will be a starting point for our journey.
We often hear people talk about finding their purpose in life. But according to Acuff, wanting to find the one and only reason for our existence will put unwanted pressure on us. This will prevent us from doing anything, much less what we are meant to do. Waiting around until we find our purpose stops us from living our life to the fullest. So we should stop existing and start living with purpose no matter what stage in life we are. We should do things with purpose, like write hand-written thank-you notes for employees or going on a vacation to relax and focus on ourselves.
According to Acuff success can be divided into five stages. Knowing these stages and how to traverse them will make our path to success easier to travel.
The first stage of success is about learning. It is about trying and learning different things for the experience it gives us. This stage will offer us a bunch of things from which we can choose what we want to do with our life. We will spend a lot of our journey to awesomeness in this stage testing different waters. But we should also take care to not take big steps and exhaust our willpower. We should start with small steps and gradually go higher.
The second stage of success is editing our lives. While the first stage gives us possibilities and options, the second stage requires us to filter these options so that we can develop any one. The other options can go on a ‘later list’ which can be pursued as a hobby or later in life. We should take care to choose the option that brings us the most joy and not one that brings us more money. Being awesome means doing what inspires us the most. Job opportunities will often arise from this option. We should also keep in mind that if halfway through we realize the path we chose is not one to awesomeness, we can edit it and move on to the next one.
The next stage is mastering the area we have filtered out. Volunteering our time in the field we chose will help us improve our skills and connect with others from the same field. We should try to thoroughly understand how others reached where they are today and how we can follow in their footsteps. Feedback is also part of mastering a skill. They can be blatant hatred or constructive criticism. We should learn to take in constructive criticism and reject hatred while mastering our skills.
The fourth stage involves harvesting the fruits of our hard work. But as we get closer to achieving our goals we might lose our motivation because there is still so much left to do. We can overcome this by setting small finish lines along the way to keep ourselves going. As we get closer people will also start to encourage us to aim for more. But we should be skeptical of these bigger goals because they may take away our focus. We should figure out what matters the most and stick to it. We should dedicate our entire focus to our current goal alone.
Once we reach the end of our journey, we should guide others on their path. Helping others onto the right track can be extremely satisfying. To give good guidance it is important to be good listeners. We should ask questions and listen to what they have to say.
But we shouldn’t stick to this final stage of success. Once we have attained our goal, we should find another aspect we want to develop and go back to stage one. We should not let our success make us lazy. We can pick something from the ‘later list’ and start over our journey to awesomeness.
The point Acuff is trying to make in his book is that to move away from average and become awesome we should start doing things. Once we cross the threshold things get easier. Overcoming our fears and following the five stages of success will ultimately make us awesome rather than average.
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