Happy New Year everyone! It’s been quite a while, but I’m feeling the urge to share again and I can’t wait to do so. It seems 2019 really sucked for a lot of people, but for my family and I it was pretty darned good. But there’s always room for improvement, and I am going to put it all into one word, my word of the year for 2020: VISION.
I’m feeling extraordinarily clever as the New Year IS 2020, as in “20/20 vision.” But there’s a very good reason that I chose vision as my word of the year, and that’s because it is such a multi-faceted word.
Definition of Vision #1: seeing your life honestly
Obviously, it can mean seeing with your eyes. My eyes have been going downhill slightly as I’ve been getting older. Part of the reason for that is my way-too-heavy cell phone use. Upon thinking about it, my getting an iPhone has resulted in my vision going south. I’ve always had really GOOD far-vision, but until the past couple of years I didn’t need reading glasses for the close-up stuff.
But (my digressing slightly aside) in a similar way, vision can mean seeing what’s really happening with your life and being honest with yourself about it. I’ve been reading a new book to start the year, one that I picked up a while back based on the recommendation and a podcast interview from Ben Greenfield with Mastin Kipp, author of Claim Your Power (the aforementioned book).
The book is one of these “find your passion and unlock your mental blocks” books, but I’m going to tell you right now that it’s not like any other book in this regard I’ve read – and I’ve read a few. It starts with some brutal looks at the limiting beliefs you have and their origins, so it can delve into some stuff that will make you very uncomfortable.
But that’s obviously a good thing – and Kipp talks about that a lot. His thought is that fear is an indicator of something you ought to be doing, but the discomfort of the act keeps you from doing so.
Obviously, that’s not an across-the-board thing: if fear keeps you from playing chicken with a locomotive, that’s probably a good thing.
But fear can also keep you from taking on a new challenge of some kind. It could be like an obstacle course race, or a marathon, or a new business, or what have you). It’s probably an indicator that you have some sort of mental block that was put there by some past event. It could also be many events that cascaded onto each other.
The book is all about delving into that stuff in your head and handling it in a new way. I won’t ruin the book, as I’m still working through it myself.
But we’ll bring this back to vision: looking for those places where fear is causing you to not take on new challenges is all about being honest with yourself. You have to take off the mental blinders and see your whole life as leading up to this point, and then seeing how you can fix it. If you’re not honest with yourself, you’re not going to make changes. And having clear vision, in the sense of seeing what’s there, is the key thing.
Definition of Vision #2: what you want to do with your life
So here’s the bigger picture with vision: what is your personal vision for what you want from life? Yeah, this is the tougher one to answer.
It’s very easy to say “I want to have a good job and take care of my family.” That is extraordinarily noble and cool. If all people had such an attitude, the world would be a much happier place.
But I’m a firm believer that we all come to this particular existence with a purpose. And this purpose is what drives us in all that we do. For me, I feel that my purpose is to help people understand where civilization is helping us and where it’s failing us – and to learn how to overcome where it’s failing us.
And my vision in this regard is a world where we understand what’s working for us and what isn’t. It’s about reclaiming the strength and health we had in our pre-civilized world without losing the positive gains of modern society. That’s what I’m working toward.
Let’s face it: professionally, I’m an IT guy. I work for a State agency that administers our State’s college savings program (529 plan for those of you who are familiar with such stuff). So technology is a big part of my life as I program away to make this work for our customers.
And obviously I’m a blogger, can’t do that without technology. I also love how technology has enabled so many people to break away from the day-to-day 9-to-5 life and be more free.
But as I see the good we can do with tech, I also see the downsides – in myself and my family. I’m having upper back/lower neck issues from too much iPhone use. My aforementioned vision issues are part of that, too. I sometimes lose hours playing on my phone – games, social media, etc. – when I am trying to relax. And I’ve talked in the past about the effects of too much blue light at night.
I also have the same issues that many caring parents do about their kids’ screen time. I worry about what that’s doing to them physically, mentally, and emotionally. I do what I can but I can’t always be there. So yes, I have those concerns as well.
But having a vision of this sort is what life is really all about. I think most people are unhappy because:
- They haven’t figured out what that vision is for themselves
- They have and aren’t going after it because of fear (going back to vision definition #1, above.
Defining my path for the year 2020
I started my year with Mastin Kipp’s book on purpose. After a pretty good 2019, I want to continue that momentum. I want to figure out the stuff that’s been holding me back. I want to live the fullest life I can; and to do that, I must do what I came to this earth in this time to do.
To do that, I need to see my life fully, being honest with myself about how my past has affected me. I need to do this in order to make positive changes that are lasting and deep. That’s the other vision – seeing myself honestly.
I’ve got a lot of work to do, no doubt about it. But I’m doing the work by taking on a very uncomfortable process: using my vision to pursue my vision. I’m looking forward to it, while also dreading what it’s going to dredge up in my life.
It’s exciting and horrifying all at once – which is what it should be.
Joe Desena, founder of Spartan Race, says (and I paraphrase) “being afraid of something means you should probably do it.” Mastin Kipp’s book says that fear is an indicator you should go after the thing you’re afraid of.
Putting yourself out there and trying to change the world for the better is scary. People will hate you for it. But if it’s worthwhile, you’re going to be better off for it and be happier.