Have High Expectations for Yourself

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I'm honored & privileged to be included in a round-up of advice on how to beat back low expectations and live an audacious life.

You can click here to read all 19 tips.

Here's mine:

If you want to make a change in your life, you need to own the change and declare to yourself (and to the world, if you must) exactly what you are, right at this moment.

Too many people think they have to go through a long, arduous process of "working" on themselves, or that they have to prove to others they’ve changed. If you want to be bold, then you can be whatever it is you want at the very moment you decide it. It’s our own fear or lack of self-confidence that prevents us from taking ownership TODAY of who we want to become—or who we want to BE from this moment onward.

In true editor fashion, I'd like to go back and amend what I said. I want to clarify: "If you want to be bold, then act exactly like whomever you want to be, at the moment you decide it."

  • If we want to be a writer, then we act like writers. (We write.)
  • If we want to be more active (or healthy), then we act the way healthy people act.
  • If we want to be less anxious people, then we act in ways that reduce our anxiety.

What I don'tmean to say is that you can just be whatever you want by declaring it. (E.g., you can be an expert on XYZ just by saying so.)

Rather, I'm thinking in terms of how we often wish we would behave or act in a certain way, or admire qualities, in other people, that we wish we had.

And so we just keep on wishing and hoping. Sometimes we don't commit, or sometimes we think we have to go through a long and arduous journey in order to meaningfully change.

In this, I have to admit to being a disciple of Alan Watts' view:

You may almost be sure, then, that some kind of clericalism, some kind of highly refined spiritual racket, is at work when stress is laid upon the suffering and discipline, the endurance and the willpower … trying to pretend to oneself that a life of constant self-frustration is in fact great spiritual attainment.

Or, looked at from another point of view:

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." (Goethe)

When we think too much (or question too much) whether we can do something or change something, rest assured it's probably better to just go do it (or change it). Or: Fail, and become all the wiser for it.