This post is long overdue, but I have not put aside much time for free writing over the past month. However, seeing as I will be zipping through the sky in a rather uncomfortable chair for the next three hours, I really have no excuses now!
For the past month or so, I have been in the process of executing my new goals. I started a new ecommerce store, though I am taking an approach to it that is entirely different from the one I made to GlowStickJunkie. I am doing a lot of experimenting in building many different aspects of the business simultaneously instead of focusing on the business itself and then trying to spread focus to the other areas later. Of course, there is the risk that this business will not be viable, and I risk not finding that out until later, but I feel that going with this route will be far more advantageous in the long-term. Besides, isn’t taking risks all part of the game? Of course it is.
Anyways, enough about that, what I really want to talk about is a little orange book that I picked up at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago and how it has fundamentally changed my life. Though I have never been a huge fan of self-help or motivational books, I would not consider The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss to be either of those. If anything, I would classify it as a lifestyle guide designed to change every aspect of one’s life. It is kind of scary how well I can relate to Tim Ferriss; it is as though we share the same philosophies and goals, which is a good thing, I suppose, considering how successful he has been over the past few years. I am sure that this will be the first of many posts that I write about what Tim Ferriss has taught me and how I have implemented his wisdom in my everyday life, so today I want to focus on just one area: decision-making.
As long as I can remember, I had always been a very conservative person when it came to risks. Often times, I would just hold out on making a decision until the opportunity or problem had passed. Indecision was my middle name, and I could come up with a myriad of excuses as to why choosing not to make a decision was okay. Sometimes indecision and inaction paid off, but more often than not, I missed out on some amazing opportunities and I let some problems manifest and become far worse and more difficult to deal with than if I had just taken care of them in the first place. Why did I have such a problem making decisions? Risks and fear of making the wrong decision.
From my earliest days, I avoided as much risk as possible. When I invested in mutual funds at the age of nine, I chose the most conservative investment plan possible. I knew that if I took a more risky path, the economy would crash and I would lose all of my money. However, my brother, a far more risky and carefree person, chose the most risky investment path. While his mutual funds took a plunge after the recession, he still wound up with a greater return than I did. I saw this, but I still was not comfortable with taking risks. Of course, this attitude changed completely when I read The 4-Hour Workweek.
In chapter three, Ferriss talks about how he was having trouble deciding whether or not to spend two weeks in Europe. He had just created a fairly successful company, but it was not fully automated yet. He was working very long weeks and he didn’t feel that he had enough time to focus on the big picture part of his company because he was too busy with all of the minutiae, day-in and day-out operations of the company. He had to get away.
He decided that a two-week trip to Europe would be greatly beneficial, but he ran into a lot of mental roadblocks while planning the trip. Doubts filled his head and voices asked, “What if you leave and your company tanks? What if everything you have worked for falls apart? It will be the end of the world! You cannot leave!” He struggled with these doubts, and was on the verge of calling off the trip when it hit him: none of those things were permanently life-changing.
Sure, if his company fell apart while he was gone, it would, frankly, suck. But would it be the end of everything? No. Were the chances of this happening great? No. In the scheme of everything, his business falling apart would be a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 was nothing and 10 was life-changing. On the other hand, he saw that the benefits of leaving for two weeks could change his life in a positive way. He could focus on the bigger picture and take care of everything that he needed to do to really grow the company, and in the meantime, his managers and employees would have to learn how to operate without him. On a scale of 1 to 10, this was an 8 or 9! This was exactly what I needed to read. My whole life up until the point that I read that paragraph had revolved around letting the small, improbable scenarios outweigh the great opportunities that had come my way. I decided that I was no longer going to live my life that way.
It did not take long for an opportunity to present itself in which I could implement this new way of thinking. In my public speaking class, there was this girl, and though I did not talk to her very much during the semester, it was obvious that she was very intelligent, very kind, and very interesting. It did not take long for the thoughts to begin entering my head. You know, those thoughts that say, “Hmm, you should ask her out to dinner and try to get to know her better.” Of course, as with every other instance where this thought had crossed my mind, I quickly began to formulate excuses. “She’s out of my league,” I said. “She’ll say no,” I said. But no matter how many excuses I gave, the thought persisted.
One morning I woke up, and I felt the need to bang my head against the wall. “You idiot,” I thought, “This is exactly how the old Trevor would have thought! You said that you would change and you obviously have not!” I realized that I was still letting the small, improbable scenarios outweigh the great opportunities. I thought, “Okay, what is the worst possible thing that could happen if I asked her out for dinner?” The worst possible scenario that I could come up with would be that she would simply say no, and my ego would take a very temporary hit. Big deal. On a scale of 1 to 10, that would be like a 2. On the other hand, the opportunities that could arise out of action were great. I could ask her, she could say yes, and it could be the beginning of a great friendship or perhaps, something more than that. That could be an 8, 9, or even 10 in the scheme of everything. It had the possibility of being truly life-changing.
So with this in mind, I went for it. I asked, and she said yes. Where this will go is unclear as of yet, since our schedules made it impossible to meet again until after this trip is over, but as always, I am quite optimistic. On my way home from school that day, I could not help but feel like a fool. For literally decades I had lived with completely unfounded fears, and I could not help but think about how many other opportunities I had missed. Of course, dwelling on these things was pointless, but I knew that from that point forward, I would never miss another opportunity due to my tendency to let negative, improbable 2′s and 3′s outweigh the great, more likely 8′s and 9′s. I have to say, it is a really good feeling.