The other day I had a meeting at the University of San Diego about goal setting; they want me to speak to groups of student employees at 4 different meetings on how to set goals and why. This opportunity happened because of a class I teach on campus called, “The Practice of Mindful Happiness.” In that class we go over goal setting, which is something I have come to learn is actually pretty important if you dream big and want to live out those dreams. After talking to my bosses during our meeting, they asked me to share some of my own story with students because it could give them insight into how I was able to find purpose and meaning and essentially land my dream job.
After that conversation I started to reflect on what I could say to students, like what lead me here exactly. The truth is that before I knew what I wanted, before I had dreams for what the future could hold, I didn’t always believe in setting goals. I didn’t know how that would help me if I didn’t even know what exactly it was I wanted to begin with. Yet, somehow I ended up with some great experiences that taught me a lot and opened my eyes in some pretty powerful ways. So how did I get on my path? I wasn’t born knowing, I didn’t leave college knowing, I didn’t move and have an “ah-ha” moment either… so what lead me here?
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
I started smiling big when I realized what lead me here. Arguably even more important than goal setting is RISK TAKING.
I up and moved to SF in hopes of finding myself, but also had this dream I would fall in love and find a perfect dream job I would also love, too. I didn’t end up in love nor did I end up finding the perfect job, but I did end up learning about myself because I did something risky and jumped in the deep end to see if I could swim. If I didn’t end up taking another risky-er-risk and follow my hearts desire to become a yoga instructor, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be the happiest person I’ve ever been because I threw myself into a situation where I’ve HAD to face all my biggest fears. Without conquering certain things, I wouldn’t know what I am capable of; I’ve had to learn and overcome to be here, where I am still learning and overcoming (it’s that place is where happiness is found eternally). If I didn’t teach yoga at USD, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to start a mindfulness program there, and land a REAL lecture class (like prof status… albeit, the youngest and least experienced to have a lecture class at USD, that I actually dish out grades for. I feel like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde where she gets into Harvard Law and shouts, “MEEEE.”). If I didn’t have that lecture class, I wouldn’t have taken the time to write a book for it, which is now somehow available to buy. All of these were RISKS, straight-up HUGE chances I took on myself.
As a result I found out: facing fears has made learn confidence (the kind within), I am not afraid to fail, I’m not afraid to fly either (which is equally just as scary), I am pretty passionate about what I’m passionate about and it grows more and more each day with each new risk. This lead me to find meaning, purpose and be willing to continue to RISK IT ALL for the chance to WIN IT ALL. Everyday I wake up feeling like I won the lotto: I could be doing something I am less passionate about, but I am not there because I decided to ask what if.
Asking that question can lead you to shuffle back and fourth, listing pros and cons… using logic. However, sometimes the best thing you can do is throw logic in the recycle bin and save it for something else because using your HEART to determine what’s right is pretty powerful, and actually an even *more* logical route, if you want to be truly happy. We didn’t come here to live out “what if” lives in our heads, we came here to LIVE THEM LIVE. And why not? What do you have to lose, except for maybe yourself? But if you lose yourself, you will win so much more. One of the things you will win is KNOWING WHAT IF. You may think it is risker *to* find out, but from personal experience, knowing the answer to “what if” is so much more satisfying: you’re giving yourself the freedom from regretting the chance you never took. Deciding to find out what I could learn if I spent a month in Costa Rica by myself ended up being the best thing I could have done. That experience taught me so much even though it was a risk and a lot of money spent, but TOTALLY worth it.
The biggest question to ask yourself about risk taking is, “What do I have to lose?” If the answer is fear, finding out what if, growing from experience, or taking a chance with your heart… then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Those are the things we have come here TO lose. We WIN when we lose those things. My feeling is: Yes, please life, DO squash my ego -make me learn something about myself through experience so I can find even MORE meaning, MORE purpose, gratitude along the way, and MORE of what it is I actually want.
Taking risks is a fearless endeavor: the more you do it, the more you will want to do it… because that rush you get is a “life high” and the rewards from it far exceed anything momentary. Yes, it’s true, you won’t “win” on every chance you take, but you will win knowing and learning AND THAT IS WINNING. Often, I get asked: “Sara, don’t you get burnt out teaching all those yoga classes and also taking them?” My answer: NO WAY JOSE, yoga all day, JOSE. The thing I love most about yoga is falling on my face (yes, you read that correctly). Why? Because when I don’t fall on my face it means I got into a hard pose I was working toward, which means I have to find a new pose that will make me fall on my face… and that in-between moment when I almost have it but not quite, is SO SATISFYING. Why? Because it means I am taking a chance, I’m living, feeling the pressure of the moment and getting lost in it. It’s beautiful and that’s where the journey becomes the reward.
Don’t settle. Not knowing is settling, not risking it all on yourself or for the chance to find yourself… is settling. Make a decision with your heart. Do something scary. Relief does come from conquering that fear, but the reward is knowing WHAT IF. A couple days ago I updated my Facebook status saying something like, “it feels like candy fell from the sky and I just happened to notice…”
Take a chance, find out what it’s like to, ‘taste the rainbow.’
Or could miss out on the best thing you never had.