Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Lost Year -this time it's gonna be different - not the usual goal setting article

National Lampoon Christmas Vacation: Cousin Eddie 'That's the gift that keeps on giving the whole year'

3am and all the wasted decades and lost years are right there in the darkness. Deep inside your limbic system the fear kicks in, the fear of all the things you’ve never done. The silence amplifies the failures. The heart rate kicks up a notch and the sweat is cold, another wasted dream half remembered.

Write your goals down and then burn the paper, watch it burn, watch the ashes scatter. You’ve written down so many goals, missed them so many times, had too many fresh starts, until the act of setting them and writing them becomes meaningless. Put that list next to your lottery ticket and then burn that too.

In conversation with your friends, you realised they’ve ‘settled’, it’s over for them, they gave up half way through the game. You ask them what their plans and goals are for the following year, they answers ‘you know, keep on plodding on’ ‘try to keep my job’ ‘keep up the payments’. The formula answer was set long before they used it, they just joined the queue.

There’s a question you remember asking, but you don’t remember what it was. Somewhere in childhood, the fear came flooding in, and the person you are was set before you even knew who you wanted to be. The dreams became lost, and the memory is fuzzy, you can remember having those dreams but you can’t remember what they were.

Everyone took a piece: your parents, your teachers and friends you lost along the way. And you spend a lifetime trying to put that puzzle back together. Trying to figure out what you want and who you should be. What were you going to do before you tried to be just like everyone else, to fit in, to make your parents proud, not stand out in the crowd.

The fundamental question

‘Who am I?’

The question you need to answer before you can set any goals. The question that determines the path. But no one even told you about the question, let alone the answer. All the books and psychics and tarot card reading mystics can’t answer that question for you.

In the endless snow it’s easy to lose track of yourself.

But the answer is right there, you’ve always had it, always known it, but it got lost somewhere between childhood and the life you settled for.

Sometimes the answer is right there, close, glimpsed through a crack in the curtains. In the forest running at night the answer is there, mountain top sun up, the answer is there, 3am the answer it's trying to break through. Washing up the answer is there. The mundane day to day drudgery, the answer is there, breathe in, breathe out, the answer is there.

You know exactly what to do, right there in the darkness, close to the truth of who you should be, the mystery solved. And then 3am turns to 4am and daylight dissolves all those dreams, and you’re back at the start again.

Desolation days. Endless trains, everyone sits in silence and quietly dies, outside the countryside and the towns rush by. Like a film you once watched on a Sunday afternoon.

How many lost years? How many you got left? When you gonna stop playing the part someone else wrote for you?

The time of death is uncertain. But the warm glow of the comfort zone keeps you on the same path you wrote for yourself along time ago. Everything dies,except the things that were never born. That can be hard to grasp, sometimes it takes a life time or two.

Fear keeps you here, keeps you safe, makes sure you never make a mistake or fail because you never push yourself.  That warm fire of comfort will burn you alive and you wont even notice.

The constant loop of ‘what could have beens’. What if I had said that, what if I had done that, what if I had risked everything, what if I had spoken to that girl/boy, what if I said how I really felt. How many people put it on the line? The real conversation is always happening in the spaces in between.

Lost moments. That girl you walked past in the street, you turned around, she turned around, then you walked on, may be she was the one, you’ll never know, you’ll never see her again. That marathon you were going to run, you bought the trainers but never entered it, didn’t have time to train. Line up the excuses like dominoes. That time you were going to speak up at work, you kept your head down, you blew it. These moments will haunt you.

The conventions made it so, keep your head down, get a good job,buy this, buy that, learn to die quietly inside. Walk along a crowded street, there a million lost dreams and failed goals walking right past you, the paranoia is palpable. Keep your head down and consume and conform.

Alcohol, drugs, shopping, food, therapy and constant media flow help to dull the pain. And you think you’re doing okay, and then the past walks right by you in the street and waves at you, and you realise you never got over it, the past is dragging behind you. All the faded memories and false hopes are there again. Let them go, the past and future are one and the same.

This is the wealthiest society the world has ever seen, and yet rates of depression and anxiety are sky high. Why is that? What if you’re not special, what if you’re just another cog in the machine, grinding away, what then.? Is it something peculiar about our society that instills the idea that you can be anything, achieve anything, be anything, that everyone is talented. What if that’s not the case, what if most of us are worker drones, then what?

Somewhere, someone just got blown apart or vaporised by a computerised bomb or wasted away from a run of the mill disease, probably while you were doing your weekly shop or sitting in traffic. Life is cheap in some places. That’s why you need to live it.

In hospitals you can feel the years passing you by, death is close by. But still you stay in your comfort zone. The fear of failure and fear of the unknown trumps the fear of death. People would rather die than break out.

Life is a series of connections. There are billions of people you will never meet, an infinite number of things you will never know. Somehow, you weave a thread through life, and connections are made and connections are lost. And you look for patterns, and they only become apparent after the fact. Were they always there, or did you project them on events afterwards.


All the people you ever met, all the people you are ever going to meet, all the places you are ever going to go. Every so often lifelines intersect and it seems right.

Don’t get caught up in thoughts of destiny. Live your life.

You could write your goals down, and make them achievable and realistic, make them public, and then break them down into manageable bit size chunks, and visualise and really believe. And it doesn’t mean a thing.

Unless you actually do something, you might as well burn that paper and go sit back in your cubicle and read 'the secret and wait for someone to rescue you.

You need to actually go out and run those first steps, or start writing that book or go and tell that girl how you feel. Otherwise, you’re gonna die with all those ‘what could have beens’ eating away at you.

There will be times when you are tired and depressed and feel alone. Push on. Mediocrity is a swamp that most people will fall into. Run for your fucking life. This is it. There is only your mind and body, refine them as best as you can. Live a life that is authentic to you. Moment to moment, there is only now. Nihilism is not the intention.

Someone I vaguely knew died. Didn't drink, didn't smoke, trained everyday, and then fell over and died, as prosaic and pointless as that. So why live a healthy life, if death can take you at any time. The point is he lived the life he wanted to, lived authentically. Was the person he wanted to be. There is no other way. Strengthen the body and the mind.

If the mythical teacher or mentor doesn’t arrive, then what? Keep going, do the best you can. No one is going to save you or do it for you. There is no success or failure.

Define yourself by your actions. There is only action and non action, there is a time for both.

The flashbacks and attachments are mere illusion. You don’t have to be the person that was set all those years before. Be who you want to be. Make meaningful connections with people who seem meaningful to you.

Move on, cause moving backward ain’t no move at all.

Fitness goals are some of the easiest ones to achieve. They don’t rely on other people, no one has the power to give you fitness like someone can give you a job or a book deal or make your film. You decide whether to achieve them or not. Simple as that. Fitness goals are easy to measure, you either got stronger or didn’t, you either lost weight or you didn’t. All the information you need to achieve fitness goals is already out there. A moderate effort and you will be able to obtain most of them (unless your goal is the Olympics). Train, rest, eat right, be consistent. The downside,, no one to blame when you fail. No buck to pass. Fitness goals are one of the few things in life that are black and white.

Guide to achieving goals:
1.    wake up
2.    decide what you want to do
3.    do it!

What's it gonna be, another year in suspended animation? Or push past the edges into the wilderness, into the unknown.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading.

"The future is unwritten." - Joe Strummer

Here's a clip from The Wire, the greatest TV show of all time, Lester Freamon says it all.

"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is."
— Charles Bukowski (Factotum)

"We keep passing unseen through little moments of other people's lives." - Robert M Pirsig

"To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top."
- Robert M Pirsig

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