Are You Reckless?

The other day, I tweeted a quote by Henry David Thoreau from Walden. It reads

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.

With that in mind, I started to think about the challenges we encounter in our lives and the goals that we set for ourselves. For many people, much time is spent addressing the obstacles placed in their way. While doing so, they fail to recognize that they may be missing out on attaining their dreams and aspirations.

Walden Pond
Walden Pond

Once a day, I like to sit quietly and read a verse from the Tao Te Ching ((Ursula LeGuin authored a particularly good translation)). This serves several purposes. First, it allows me to meditate and relax, clearing my mind of stress and worry. Second, I begin to look inward at myself and my life and can concentrate on what is truly important to me. Last, I set goals for myself based on what those most important things are.

Now, I am not suggesting that you adopt the same routine as me, nor am I saying that you should read the Tao Te Ching ((It never hurt anyone to try, though.)). Rather, you should always have a paper and pencil handy to write down your goals. If you read my previous article about how I get things done, you’ll understand that keeping paper and a writing instrument on you at all times can be extremely beneficial.

That aside, I want to suggest that you find your own routine and set some goals for yourself. Why? Because you stand to lose out on life if you don’t. It’s easy to travel through life without a purpose or an end in mind. Sure, you’ll occasionally get tripped up, but when you have no destination, those minor bumps don’t mean much.

My experience has been that I feel much more fulfilled when I set goals and achieve them. Even a simple attainable goal like learning to scuba dive can provide much fulfillment. Happenstance is not nearly as fun ((But the movie Happenstance is excellent. Watch it.)). If you want to step the excitement up a notch, take some risks with your goals. That will provide true exhilaration.

When you have nothing to lose, you can be as reckless as possible.

When I think about what I “have”, I try to imagine what life would be like if tomorrow everything were gone. All of the material items, it turns out, mean little. Even money tends to carry very little weight despite the dependency we have on it. That doesn’t mean you should spend carelessly, or take foolish risks.

I saw a sign that I liked a few days ago.

  1. Look
  2. Listen
  3. Choose
  4. Act

Those four steps, combined with a healthy recklessness, can produce amazing results in life. So many of the things we enjoy today are the result of someone making a “conscious endeavor”, often at the risk of loss, but with passion because they made it their goal.

What are your goals?
Does loss aversion keep you from attaining them?
Are they worth the risk to attain?