On Rejecting Self-Imposed and Cultural Growth Constraints

It’s a lesson I’m still learning, no doubt, so don’t take this as advice from a success coach. I do sometimes write to give advice, but I also find writing is a solid way to explore and express thoughts that are still being developed in the subconscious. Writing, for me, is one of the senses – it’s a part of myself that I use to perceive things from the world while contributing to it. This article is one that I’m writing for my own growth, but I hope someone finds it relevant.

I try to stay pretty self-aware, and lately I’ve noticed a weird phenomenon in my life. I keep being smacked in the face by opportunities that, upon first consideration, I would consider out of my league. After three or four iterations of that cycle though, I finally asked an important question.

Why do I feel like this is too much for me?”

How many people have to tell me that my experience, my story, and the growth I’ve endured are valuable before I start to believe them?

And then after some contemplation, I discovered an exciting answer.

None of the opportunities are too much for me. None of it is out of my league. I’m not intimidated by the six-figure salary offers, or the opportunity to write for an actual profit. I’m not afraid to work with people who are smarter than me, or more experienced. I was caught up in the cycle of being so sick of a mundane life, but simultaneously being programmed not to take necessary risks to break away from it.

I had to stop and take a look at why I felt the way I felt. For starters, I was raised in an area of the country where a solid 80% of the population is living a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. The ones who could own a nice house were considered to be in an entirely different social class, and anyone who owned a vacation home was a rich snob.

The idea of social classes was keeping me locked into mine.

Secondly, my own ideology was contributing to the problem. In a desperate search for a life of simplicity, I was complicating everything. I don’t want 150k annually. I want a piece of land and a chicken coup. A log cabin and a small garden. In my commitment to that, I limited my job searches to opportunities between 40-65k. Jobs where I’d have to bust my ass and spend my evenings thinking about the next day’s task load. Any more of a salary, I thought, would mean sacrificing what little free time I had remaining.

FALSE.

Increasing your salary doesn’t mean sacrificing balance. It just means accepting more for the significant efforts you already contribute to your work. 

Another contributing factor was the idea of readiness. As an easy example, I’d constantly received advice that I shouldn’t reach out to any agents or publishers about my book until its completion. The other day, I disregarded that advice, and now there’s an agent going over my work for me. Had I chosen to wait, it would have delayed progress toward my ultimate goal. The only one responsible for that delay would have been me, for not following my gut instinct to reach out sooner, when the intent of the book was already made evident in the first hundred pages. Sometimes, you have to disregard sound advice in pursuit of your passions.

Finally, we must surround ourselves with people who believe in our dreams. If your friends, family, or boss constantly beat you down, it might be time for some distance. Hearing people constantly speak negativity works its way into your mind whether you know it or not.

When I say, “I can change the world,” the ONLY appropriate response from people in my inner circle is,

“I know you can. How can I help?”

And you can be damned sure that that’s the response I’ll give when all of you world-changers reach out to me. But first we have to learn to reject unnecessary restraints in order to become all that we were meant to be.

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