Let’s take the phrase from Parts I and II and add to it once more:
While you can do anything,
you can’t do everything,
and you can’t do nothing,
So I choose to ____.
In Part I, we went from “everything” to a short list of things that make us feel alive. From Part II, we know that “nothing” is actually choosing to live with someone else’s decisions and that they are unlikely to make us feel alive.
Now the rubber meets the road. A choice isn’t really a choice until you act on it. In fact, until you act on it, you’re still trying to choose nothing, and you’ll have to eat meals that someone else dishes out for you.
As soon as you act, that’s the real moment of choosing. Acting may feel uncomfortable. It may feel like leaping off a cliff. But which would you rather? Trying for everything and nothing brought many people to lives of unrequited longings and abundant discontents. On the other hand choosing and acting on what you love brings people to lives of fulfillment and joy.
The worst that could happen is that you “fail”. But is that so bad, really? Failure is not permanent. Nor is it some kind of grand ultimate moral stain upon your soul. If you look closely, all it means is that you tried something and it didn’t work out exactly the way you wanted it to. You could look at it like an experiment. You made a hypothesis: If I do X, then I will get this wonderful Y. Then you conducted the experiment: I did X and I got Z. Calling that a “failure” seems like a really ugly way to describe collecting some really great information about the way the world works.
Here are some things Thomas Edison said on the topic:
- “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
- “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”
- “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”
- “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
The best that could happen is that you succeed beyond your wildest dreams. You would be forced to live a life that makes you feel truly alive.
This only happens if you take action.