When putting one foot in front of the other we typically know – and like to know – where our next step will land. We all enjoy certainties like the ground beneath us and a known path to continue our planned trajectory, but taking the same routes will only take us where we have already been. They cannot take us to the places we could potentially go. In many ways these routes are reliable yet limiting.
Earlier this year, following Zen advice, I decided to take a leap into the unknown myself. As I flew over the Atlantic, to London, in pursuit of my next adventure, I spent time reflecting on this move, and have done so with all my previous ones. I concluded that every time I have unbound myself from my fears, I faced the most thrilling of uncertainties and discovered the most gratifying outcomes.
Leap and the net will appear
This last jump is one I have yet to land. The thrilling uncertainty turned terrifying, as even defined paths dissolved under the world pandemic. But, part of the beauty of taking a leap into the unknown is surrendering to the uncontrollable and rejoicing in this space of unlimited potential. This notion has led me to the most exciting of entrepreneurial pursuits, transcendent experiences, incessant adventures, and much learning.
By no means do I consider myself a master at this, let us call it, ‘The Art of Jumping’, I personally know many who have leaped further, wider, and more often. I simply want to share my message as someone who has seen his life positively defined (and continuously redefined) by un-clinging from certainties and befriending the undefined.
And while I embrace straying from the given path, I have great respect for stability, and I do believe in some form of balance. However, I have gotten so much more from outside my comfort zone, that I would like to share with you my takeaways from these experiences.
1. Let go of your fears
This is the first step. The mere thought of straying from the known path tends to sprout fears and limiting beliefs. It sure did for me, I often felt overwhelmed with doubt when wanting to find something different.
Two realizations helped me: The prospect of inaction, mainly in the long term, was no less frightening (dull, disappointing, and depressing) and the fact that most of the things that would stop me from taking action were based on faux constraints, made up completely by me, or by society.
I had to analyze my fears as objectively as possible to realize that most were senseless, unfounded, and undeserving of my attention, let alone the privilege of defining my plans. Some were valid reservations, but when compared to the price of no-action, these too were mitigated.
As widely accepted as many of these may be, I let go of notions of time (and how long things should take), judgements, and behaviors.
To keep my intentions at the front of my mind, I have two exercises that help me:
- Put your fears (and their cause) into perspective. They are often oh-so-insignificant, and quickly lose value.
- Once you’ve managed to overcome a fear ask yourself “Is this what you so feared?”, belittle your former fears away, for good. (Pro tip: Ask yourself this question, arms open, yelling to the heavens. It is quite freeing. Potentially awkward if done in public, but only if norms restricting this behavior are a societal agreement you still agree with.)
2. It doesn’t have to be a reckless jump
Much of my discourse thus far may make taking a leap sound exciting, but reckless. It does not have to be. I neither condone nor condemn reckless leaps – I do think they have their place and can bring value, but most of my jumps have not been rash at all.
Once you get to the edge, you must accept the myriad factors that are beyond your control and keep going. Otherwise, you will never really find out how far you could go. This surrender is a pivotal turning point and a catalyst for endless potentialities.
You can even make yourself an escape plan or define what will prompt a return to your comfort zone. That is okay, as long as it does not limit how far you leap. A half-hearted jump is just infinitesimally better than not jumping at all. It may give you the courage – after touching the waters of the unknown – to take an actual leap the next time, until the net appears.
Faith is a huge asset when walking out into the undefined and uncertain. Faith that the net will appear, that things will work out, faith in yourself and your abilities, in the universe, in your religion, in the lessons from some random article you read on GamePlan A…
Believing in the net, truly believing in it, seeing it, visualizing it, is half the job (or more) done. Remember, this freefalling zone of unlimited possibilities is a magical place, and the mind is granted much more freedom to create realities than in its typical confined spot, where everything is already known.
Believe, listen and be attentive. You do not want to miss the signs leading you in a certain direction. Your net might be right there, but could look completely different to what you imagined, while having all the core aspects that you wholeheartedly desired.
4. Stay curious
Some may argue that you can build a placid and fulfilling life within the security and stability of what you know and have always known; I will not refute that. But, in my life, I have found that the thrill of living far surpasses the contentment of existing.
There is so much more out there that the world has to offer, but if you have valid reasons to stay put (mentally, physically, spiritually), so be it. Do not, however, get stuck in mindless inertia, paralyzed by fear or bound by societal obligations as you may live to regret it.
Stay curious, curious about what you can learn, about what you can see, about all that you can be, do, and experience. My collection of moments and memories has expanded exponentially by consciously deciding to stay curious and keep leaping.
These four points have been paramount in my continual pursuit to go beyond my comfort zone. They haven’t led me to achieve great business success, enlightenment, or incessant happiness – yet, maybe – but, I can comfortably walk along the edge of the precipice leading into the unknown, sit on its edge, smiling, and observe the vast and beautiful undiscovered, the magical infinite potential, that’s just a jump away.