The Seven Enemies of Flow

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. It is characterized by a feeling of energized focus and full involvement. When reaching a state of absorption in our work, we experience the freedom and deep delight that we seek.

Work that we love, that also provides ample financial abundance, can be an illusive animal. When searching for work that we love, that also pays the bills, it’s sometime better to approach things from the side – rather than head on. An indirect approach begins with noticing where we are in each of the enemies of flow (listed below). As you consider the enemies of flow, ask yourself where they show up in your life. Just realizing that you enter these grounds can allow you to begin to release them.

1. Perfectionism. Perfectionism is actually the opposite of seeing life as perfect. Flow doesn’t always show up as a blissful experience. In other words, opportunities sometimes come disguised as crises. Yet there is always something exactly right (perfect) about our discontent. It is a perfect gift for us to ‘get’ something. But when we strive for perfection, we miss the gift and block the flow. We miss the message within the discord because we are so busy trying to change it. Since what we resist persists, as perfectionists we become stuck in the muck of perpetually trying to create the perfect. The flawed perfect was already ours for the letting. Letting life be most easily allows us to enter flow.

2. Beliefs. Beliefs would aid flow if all we had were unrestricted ones. But we have plenty of the limited variety as well. Consider this: what might your life be like in the absence of all beliefs? You would have to just live life, in the present moment, noticing and adjusting on the fly. But would that really be so bad? All beliefs are conditioned by past experiences and reinforced by emotions. So they limit us to the extent of those experiences and emotions. Limiting beliefs actually stop us from living a large life. As a kid, you mostly just showed up and went with the flow. Life was lighter then because we didn’t know so much. Experiment! Live a couple hours in the absence of belief. See how free you feel.

3. Envy. Flow is an experience of inclusion. It is not possible to be in the flow while wishing to exclude another. . Envy is exclusionary and creates a mindset that says ‘there isn’t enough.’ In a state of flow there is always enough. There’s enough time, money, love, laughter and all good things for everybody. When we are envious of another’s good, we are saying that the Universal Pie is limited. If we believe it’s limited then we are excluding others, and from that place we cannot enter flow. Is your life stream barely a trickle? Release your envy.

4. Struggle. Flow is found on the path of least resistance. Struggle, complaining, needless drama and suffering are all forms of resistance. Each of these states doesn’t lead to the experience of flow. They lead to the experience of resistance. Some of us still enjoy life’s battles. Just understand that both flow and struggle are choices. You decide which option best nourishes your soul. You decide if you can live with taking the easy way out just for the joy of it. Why not be in the right place at the right time? You may be ready for the easy way out. Limber up and allow life.

5. Pretense. When life repeatedly appears out of alignment, some part of us is not being authentic. The physical universe never lies. Looking for the place where we are out of integrity can usually align us. Where are you faking it? Where are you barely holding your life together in avoidance and denial? Take off the mask. Speak the complete truth about how lousy things are and you’ll open the door to heal. The energy of momentum can carry you once your pretense is no more.

6. Doubt. Being drawn along by flow is an experience of trust. The natural well-being of flow is life before we color it with our fears and doubts. Flow is a joyous and delightful experience of living. But to get there we must trust. Doubt runs in the face of trust. If you can’t get there by trusting then come through gratitude. If you just can’t be grateful then come through acceptance. If you can’t accept, then you must enter through the doorway of forgiveness. If you are unwilling to forgive, then know that you are choosing to remain resentful and stuck with doing things the hard way.

7. Invulnerability. When we are unwilling to risk being wounded we are also blocking our entry to flow. Receptivity and eagerness to engage all of life is a prerequisite to flow. Flow can feel effortless, but it is far from mindless or unchallenging. Vigor is a characteristic of flow. Watching television is effortless, but it requires no stretching beyond our comfort zone. Experiences of flow require us to show up ready to extend the limits of our capacities. Flow requires us to enter life’s stream awake to the wonders of the unknown. To really live we’ve got to risk a few bumps but it’s a small price to pay for our waiting glory.

Your choices have placed you within the enemies of flow. As flow is the natural state of well-being, you need only to choose again to enter it. You can release the obstructions to flow by stopping the beliefs and behaviors that keep you in these states. Your flow will come rushing back to you by raising your consciousness in the times that you engage the enemies above.

Could I Write an Entire Post Containing Only Questions?

If I wrote such a post would anyone read it? What would be the point of such a post? How could I get that point across only with questions? And how could I answer those questions only in the form of other questions?

Do you understand the value in answering questions that you don’t want to answer?

How about questions that you just can’t answer?
What about questions that you’re afraid to answer?

Can you see the tremendous value in answering them?

What questions would be so provocative that they’d inspire you to action in your quest for work life freedom?

Would answering the following questions serve you well?

What brings you alive and what are you doing about it?

What dreams have you put aside because you haven’t yet solved work life freedom or money issues?

What is the deep meaning of your work life?

Do you know what’s most missing in your work life?

What scares you the most about aligning your work with your authentic self?

Would you even know how to do that?

What do you care about so much that it hurts when you are out of alignment with it?

Which of the above questions were you compelled to answer?
Which of the above questions are you inspired and determined to answer?

What good might occur if you exercised the courage to answer every one of them?

What is really stopping you from doing so??

What’s one small action step you can take today that will move you towards the thing you most want to accomplish?

Are you willing to take that action step?

When will you take it?

If not now, when?

If you read this post, will you please comment by telling us which question you found most valuable?

Top Five Realizations about the Powerful Force of Gratitude

Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools in the universe, but it requires engagement to reap its full rewards. Astound yourself by jotting down on a card just ten things you’re grateful for – using the guidance below. Carry that card with you and refer to it often for maximum results.

  1. What we focus on expands. Gratitude is a very powerful focusing tool because it both focuses and insures that the object of our focus is something we want more of. When we are grateful, our thoughts simply cannot be on something that we don’t want. Our job, as conscious creators, is to think about what we want. Our fate, as unaware creators, is to stay stuck by continuing to worry about what we don’t want. Write down the top two relationships with whom you enjoy the most trust. (You could really make their day by forwarding this link to them and announcing them as the relationship you value the most.)
  2. Gratitude turns on our natural well-being. Health, wealth and all thingsWoman in Fieldgood are our natural sates of being. There is a mind-body connection that positively affects our health and well-being and it comes directly through gratitude. Gratitude serves as a switch to energize dreams and desires. When it’s on and the juice is flowing freely, our vision improves so that we can see what’s possible. Write down the top two states of health, or body parts, that you are most appreciative of.

  3. Gratitude enhances our clarity. Gratitude instantly prioritizes our options so that we can focus on what makes us feel good. The fastest way out of overwhelm is to focus on what brings you alive. Invest your energy and attention there. Confusion is a state brought on by a lack of gratitude. If you want your life to make more sense, begin with a list of what you’re grateful for. Opportunities flow from clarity. Write down the top two opportunities that make you feel most alive when working on them.
  4. Gratitude strengthens our connection to Life Force Energy (the Source of all things good), to our powerful core selves and to one another. Gratitude is a remarkably inclusive energy. Since all problems result from exclusion, this is a huge realization. Within this connection, our strongest, highest self is encouraged to come out and sing. So thank you my friends for every kind thought and deed past, present and future. Thank you from the depths of my heart and THANK YOU GOD! Write down your top two blessings, strengths or natural talents.
  5. Gratitude allows us to unconditionally accept and celebrate ourselves. The lack of self-acceptance, self-love and self-confidence are primarily what holds us back from being magnificent. Self-appreciation, or inwardly focused gratitude, both strengthens our natural talents and celebrates our growth. We really do need to remember and recognize how wonderful we are. If there is one trait that most of us share, it’s that we are too hard on ourselves. Forget humble and forget selfless; they simply don’t work well. Instead, give yourself regular doses of self-appreciation. The fastest route to being generous and brave for others is to first strengthen oneself. Validate yourself and remember to celebrate small victories. Cease waiting for worldly recognition; it may be too long in coming, and not as powerful as your own gentle acknowledgment. Acknowledge yourself by writing down your top two achievements or learning realizations from the past year.

Gratitude, like love, multiplies only in the expression of it. So if you thirst for it, be the source of it. We all reach the point of facing challenging times. We cry out for understanding and cooperation. We seek the answer to our woes; yet the most powerful answer lies in our acknowledgment of who and what we appreciate.Focus on who and whatever brings light or value into your life. Gratitude is the gift that lifts, for both giver and receiver. Gratitude warms the heart of God because it acknowledges creation at its natural best.

Carry the card with you throughout this Thanksgiving season and really allow the appreciative juices to flow. Buddy up with a friend who wants to join you using this exercise and plan to talk the weekend after Thanksgiving to celebrate the bounty.

Imagine how you’ll feel enjoying tenfold the blessing you now have.

Thank you for being you.

Work as Play?

Have you yet found work that is so delightful that you’d do it for free? I’m talking about work that you could totally lose yourself in; work that felt more like play than work. Is this what you want? I used to think it’s what I wanted.

Yes, it’s possible, and some folks actually find such bliss. Pittsburgh Steelers’ star receiver, Hines Ward, is a great example. Whether he’s hitting or getting hit, he always bounces back up with a big ass smile on his face.

But I have a confession to make.

There is nothing I currently do for money that I would do for free.

Sometimes, I’m almost there. But my most honest answer is no. I would not continue every aspect of the work I do for free.

Which raises this question:

Could the most delightful work possibly be the freedom to not work at all?

I think so. I think it may be easier to create a life of no work, or very little work, than it is to find work that you love so much you’d do it for free. Wouldn’t creating a life with total freedom of choice, lots of free time and the resources to enjoy it be more delightful than being obligated to work?

It all starts with what you want. For your sake, I hope what you want very closely matches what you value. My dearest value is the freedom of self-determination, which is the ability to do (work on) what I want to, when I want to, and with whom I want to. I can’t even imagine working at the whim of someone else. Employment, to me, is akin to slavery.

So I’ve fashioned a life where I enjoy total freedom of self-determination. That’s what I value the most.

But more importantly, why do you work? Before you say “for the money,” dig deeper for your true motivation.

Imagine for a moment that it’s not for the money. Really, why do you work? Is it to serve others? Is it to express who you are? Or is it to create a life of liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

If you’re not working for the money, in some way you must be working for fulfillment and/or freedom. Like me, it may be easier for you to get exactly what you want once you clearly see what you want.

In this post I’ve asked nine penetrating questions that you need to answer if you want to increase your probability of work life freedom. We don’t all have the same desires, and the same methods do not work for all of us. But I’m betting you’ll find that the key to what you want lies behind the answers to these questions. Bet your life on it. Following your own inner wisdom increases the odds in your favor.

Stumble It! Stumble It!

A Sure Way Out of the Darkest Times

When times are tough we almost always look outside to take some action. Yet it’s often an inner adjustment that’s needed first.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening within, when times are tough.

Have you ever faced circumstances, such as growing debt, demanding creditors, major life disappointments or conflicts that are so big it’s hard to see anything else? Yet that’s what we need to do. We need to look at anything other than that big scary reality that’s blocking our vision.

What we focus on expands. What we give our attention to we get more of. What we look at, whether it is pleasing or upsetting, becomes our focus point of expansion. Even what we resist persists because we are giving it our attention.

Worry, complaint, blame and doubt are powerful forces of resistance that tend to keep us stuck within the very situations we wish to be free of. Yet there is always a way out and it always comes from within first.

Here’s the most effective inner adjustments I can offer. I found it in Eckhart Tolle’s excellent book, The Power of Now.

In all situations, you only have four choices, and the first one is not a positively productive one.

  1. You can resist, complain or deny, and remain stuck within the situation.
  2. You can remove yourself from the situation.
  3. You can work with others to change it.
  4. You can accept it.

That’s it. There are no other choices.Many times when coaching a client out of very stressful circumstances, they refuse to select options 2, 3, or 4. That means that by default they have chosen to remain in a prison of their own making. Because if we choose not to accept, change or remove ourselves from a situation we are stuck solidly within resistance.

Why blame is resistance.

No matter who’s at fault, you are responsible.Blaming others is a barrier between you and your effectiveness. When we are blaming, we are not looking at our own contribution to the situation. When we are blaming, we have, in effect, become victims – powerless to improve the situation until someone else changes first. Here’s a core truth worth adopting. If you are aware of a problem, it’s at least partially yours to correct. If it’s happening to you, no matter who appears to be at fault, you are at least partially responsible (for the advanced class, try this on: holding yourself as 100% responsible gives you 100% power in the situation). Instead of finger-pointing and whining when you see a problem, always ask these questions:

  • What can I do?
  • What else can I do?
  • What else?

Write down your answers, discuss them, make a decision and take some action. And please don’t think that acceptance is a weak decision. It’s often the strongest.

Acceptance is not agreement. It is simply your recognition that for now, you just won’t fight it. There are no other choices. Opportunity comes directly from clarity of decision and action. By deciding which of the three positive choices you are making, you increase the likelihood of greater opportunity – because you have lessened resistance.

Then you can apply a relief formula that always works:

Gratitude + Less Resistance = Increased Opportunity

Recognizing and appreciating one’s blessings gives you greater strength. What you’re grateful for may be relationships, internal talents and abilities or external positive conditions. By simply focusing on a sunny day, health or any part of your life experience that feels good, you’ll begin to turn the tides in your favor.

Remember – whatever we focus on we get more of.

In all things, you have a choice as to how you’ll respond. You can resist by hoping that another person or condition will change or you can choose to work the formula on your own behalf.

What Work Would You Do Marooned On An Island?

In an earlier post, I challenged you to ask yourself some questions about what kind of work you would do if you lived on an enchanted island and the only requirement was that your work must naturally bring you alive and make your heart sing.

Isle of Delightful WorkTo make sure I was right there with you, I answered the questions myself; frankly I was surprised at what I discovered!

The questions were:

  1. What kind of work would you do?
  2. What would your unique contribution be?
  3. Who would you be?
  4. What could others say about you that they cannot say now?
  5. If you woke up tomorrow and such a miracle happened, what would you see differently?
  6. How would you feel?

Something I almost didn’t admit was that I found these questions a real challenge to answer. As a coach, I’ve lived an extremely aware life for many years. I’ve made vocational choices by following my heart since 1992 – so I was surprised at how difficult this was for me!

What happens when suddenly we have the opportunity to imagine what it would be like to live in complete vocational bliss? You may have a different experience, but mine was fascinating. When I began answering these questions, I faced a great void. My relatively safe and formerly dark hole of dreams was now illuminated. Then, once the pressure was completely off (i.e., I didn’t have to be concerned about the marketability of what I did on the enchanted isle) it felt heavily on like never before.

Why? I’m going to take a few guesses.

  1. When we finally have permission to let our wild, unrestricted selves out, when faced with freedom, we hesitate to seize it. Kind of like the animal who becomes so used to the boundaries of his cage that he still won’t cross them once the walls are down.
  2. Talk is cheap. It’s easy to say we want to find our true calling, but when faced with the actuality of following through… another level of fear arises.
  3. We really do care what others think. But when faced with living in an environment like the enchanted isle, where people are not judgmental and the only requirement is that what you do brings you deep fulfilling happiness, yet another excuse is removed. “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Theodore Geisel, (Dr. Seuss)
  4. We become intimidated by our own power to chose to be who we really are. It’s time to stop pretending. “If you do not pretend to be more than you are, you will dare to be all that you are.” – Susan Thesenga

So I decided to drink my own Kool-Aid and answer all the questions myself. Rather than bore you with the details, I summarized my responses and created a shingle for my cottage on the Enchanted Isle of Delightful Work. Here it is:

Tom's Shingle

On the Enchanted Isle of Delightful Work, what would your shingle say? Exercise the courage to let your heart answer these questions, and then boil your answers down to the words you’d hang by your cottage for your fellow islanders to view.

What would your shingle say? I’d love to see it, if you’d like to share it with me (you don’t need a graphic – text is fine)!

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman

What Will I Be When I Grow Up? I Wonder…

What will I be when I grow Up? Curiously and whimsically wondering is the right approach for this essential question. Curiosity keeps our inquiry light and speculative, rather than stressful and anxious.

It’s funny how so many folks sheepishly explain their lack of success or focused clarity by claiming they’ve yet to grow up. As if facing the responsibility of adulthood automatically clears up all the confusion around finding one’s true calling. First of all, it doesn’t clear up anything. Secondly, such a heavy thought is completely the wrong approach. We need to find work that feels like play and most of us played far more as children than as adults.

What’s an approach that does work well?

SunsetImagine you’ve moved to The Enchanted Isle of Delightful Work.

Imagine waking up tomorrow morning on a lush, beautiful island with 999 others. Each of you is required to contribute only through fulfilling work that’s uniquely joyful and delightful. Pleasant and encouraging neighbors explain that the only kind of work you’ll be paid for is work in which you totally lose yourself.

If what you produce or create involves struggle or toil in any way, you will not eat or be given shelter. Indeed you’d be cast out for working too hard and you would not survive. The only requirement is that your work must naturally bring you alive and make your heart sing.

Take a moment, right now, to close your eyes and imagine such delight.

Know the answer to .. What will I be when I grow up?

You wouldn’t need to worry about marketing because your authentic value would be self-evident and highly attractive. Those who genuinely appreciate whatever you are offering will enthusiastically support you.

  • What kind of work would you do?
  • What would your unique contribution be?
  • Who would you be?
  • What could others say about you that they cannot say now?
  • If you woke up tomorrow and such a miracle happened, what would you see differently?
  • How would you feel?

Here’s your chance to be paid very well just for being your naturally wild self. You’ve joyfully grown up, so what are you?Can we have some fun with this? I dare you. Let all your untamed, unique beauty express itself through these questions. Post a comment and let your imagination run wild.

I’ll tell you a secret. This enchanted isle of delightful work is the same place you’re trying to get to anyway, probably with a lot of stress, effort and struggle. Live it first in your imagination – and who knows what wonderful blessings may transpire!
Stumble It! Stumble It!

You can read my answers to the above on this companion post.

The Power in Being Pissed Off

Sometimes we just need to get good and mad at ourselves. Not a judging or belittling mad, but an empowering mad. The kind of mad that reaches deep for a determination that will not easily die.

The best time to reach deep and channel your anger is when things are looking dire and could go either way. We could just curl up, cry and go to sleep – or we could reach deep for that fire that burns brightly within.

Once we find that fire, we need to follow it up with action – in the moment. Bold, bodily movement works best.

There is a lot of energy in what pisses you off at a core level. There’s a lot of power to tap within a long-standing struggle that you’re sick and tired of. This kind of power creates a “good-mad” kind of urgency that builds a strong unwavering conviction to act now!

Are you fed up enough with your current situation to act and act today?

It’s up to you, you know. Nobody is going to save you.

I may have never met you and that doesn’t matter. I can tell you this for sure. Whatever you want, you have what it takes to go out and get it. You have within you every talent and quality necessary to make your dream come alive. If you did not, the very idea of it would not have even come to you.

Emilie Cady, in her classic book, Lessons in Truth, said it well, “Desire is the thing you want in incipiency.” That means when you get a fresh idea, it has come directly from Universal Intelligence straight to your heart. Your recognition of the idea not only means that it was meant only for you, but that it’s already on its way into being. So not only can you do it, the fact that you even see the idea proves that you’re already in the midst of manifesting it.

But you’ll never know unless you reach deep and act. Can you get fired up enough? Watch this short clip all the way to the end and scream with him, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”

Because it’s that level of being pissed off that will launch your dream. Nothing short of authentic fire is guaranteed to move you from your funk. Get pissed off, will you? The world needs you to show up with all you have.

Opportunities Abound… But Where Do They Come From?

Become an opportunity creator rather than an opportunity seeker.

I used to search for opportunities. As an opportunity seeker, I once sought out ways to make more money. But I know now that what I was really looking for was greater freedom. That freedom was found by recognizing my own talents, values and capabilities rather than seeking opportunities created by others.

As a self-described “multiple streams entrepreneur,” I value having four to six income streams in various stages of development at all times. This year, for the first time in my life, I have more opportunities than I have the willingness to develop. How did this happen? How did I become flush with solid, cash-flowing streams when I once so desperately and skeptically sought them out?

Did I go out on the web and find a wonderful site that . promotes “sure things.” No, I did not. Sorry if that disappoints you.

In fact, I’ve reached this abundant state by making an internal adjustment. My focus is now more inner-directed than external. I no longer seek opportunities designed by others. This is an approach that could work very well for you.

How? By following the following two steps.

  1. First you’ve got to decide on your value-based requirements.
  2. Then, you must not waiver from these when evaluating possibilities.

I now follow a higher, freedom-based standard when deciding on my income streams. Here are my three decision points:

  1. Leverage (the ability to build something once and repeatedly make money from it automatically)
  2. Joy and fulfillment
  3. Creativity expressed

What might your value-based points of decision be?

To help with your internal evolution, I thought we could look at the most likely sources of fitting opportunities. Where do the most fulfilling money – making opportunities come from?

  1. They come from your trust-based connection to others. Associates with a shared business history are more likely to tip you off to good possibilities they themselves are developing.
  2. They come from your visibility in the marketplace. Make your presence known in the forums you care about.
  3. They appear out-of-the-blue, based on the abundance of space in your life. Want to recognize more authentic opportunities? Then create a vacuum so they have room to sprout. Let go of opportunities that do not align with your values.
  4. They come from your willingness to be receptive and to keep a truly open mind. Being open-minded means being open to new ideas or arguments. It means having an unprejudiced, approachable and accessible mind.
  5. They come from your decision to boldly intend them into being. “Someday perhaps the inner light will shine forth from us, and then we’ll need no other light.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  6. They come from your authentic actions. Trusting your gut and acting on it is an irresistible force.
  7. They come from your ability to keep your head up in the midst of seeming misfortune. You may have heard the phrase … “it’s all good.” Even the darkest challenge only needs the light of time to see the hidden benefits.

Did you notice the main theme in the above list? Opportunities primarily come from the inside out. From that perspective you are engaging authentic positioning that allows you to see even more possibilities. Authentic positioning is the process of aligning your core self with your business intentions and actions so that you are positioned optimally for success.

Ground your actions in your own uniqueness.
Don’t seek the right opportunity. Create it.

That usually means creating a profitable business of your own, in your own way. Nothing works for everyone. That’s why so many opportunity seekers who try to duplicate the success of others end up disappointed. It’s not about the opportunity. It’s all about the man or woman who’s creating it and working it.

All things don’t work for all people. What if truth was actually more individual than universal? What if some systems work for 90% of the people and you’re among the other 10%?

Earl Nightingale was fond of offering this non-conformist, success advice. Look around at what most everybody else is doing and then do exactly the opposite.

Decide to put yourself in play in a very big way. Yes, the truth will set you free, but only if it’s your truth. There are no one-size-fits-all money making opportunities or success formulas.

Don’t seek the right opportunity. Create it. Do it your way. Create the business opportunity that perfectly fits your lifestyle and you’ll have more money, greater freedom and fulfillment. Opportunities abound, from within.
Stumble It!

Screw Going Back to School

How many times have you heard this from confused folks who have yet to find their true calling?

“I’m thinking about going back to school.”

Screw that! Why? Because the odds are excellent that more education and/or additional credentialing isn’t necessary to get to the level of success, freedom and work fulfillment that you desire.

I’m not anti-education. In many cases I’m for it. I certainly don’t want anybody that hasn’t been to medical school removing my appendix. I’m especially pro education for younger folks and for those who clearly know exactly what they want to do. College is a great place to grow up. I almost did there. But I didn’t find out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Did you? Perhaps that’s because at that tender age we’re still in the process of growing up.

But that’s not who’s going back to school. More often than not it’s the confused and uncertain folks who are returning to the classroom. If they told themselves the truth, they may have to admit this: “I’m going back to school because it’s a socially acceptable way for me to avoid making this big decision for another 2-4 years.”

They are prime suckers to fall into this trap – perpetuated by the world’s biggest lie: someone else knows better than you do, what’s really good for you.

Of course it’s safer to believe in this illusion because it’s a convenient way of escaping personal responsibility. If things don’t work out, you can always blame the school, or the government or heck, blame the economy.

We frequently fall into this trap because we are experts at belittling ourselves. We doubt ourselves, undervalue our talents and judge our performance so harshly that it seems like we’d be nuts to trust ourselves. Somebody else must know better. Bull! They really don’t.

This return to school could be nothing more than a hidden urge within you that’s looking for approval. You’ll never get the approval you need from others, so stop looking for it. Every one of us is the product of a collection of beliefs and assumptions that were laid on us by family and society. It’s time to examine those beliefs and to toss out those that no longer serve us well.

Instead of wondering, “Should I go back to school?” why not ask, “What exactly do I think this education or further credentialing will bring me?” Then, “What will that bring me?” Keep asking and drilling a few rounds deeper and you’ll eventually get to what you really want. Then you can ask this beautiful question:

Is there a more direct way to get what I want?

Often, self-employment (with the talent and resources you have right now) is an easier, more direct way. But, self-employment is so bold, you say. Yeah, it is. So what?

Has being cautious paid off big for you so far? Going back to school does not put you in play in a big way. It’s benching you. It’s like putting yourself on the sidelines of life and delaying your real contribution. Then at the end of 3 or 4 more years and thousands of dollars, “they” may still tell you that you can’t get what you want. Going back to school is not a sure thing.

Neither is self-employment. But I can fail a lot faster and a lot less expensively by walking my own path and adjusting in the moment to what I’ve learned. So can you. Going into business, leading with your own strengths and expressing yourself authentically is a much better bet at success than following the herd.

Delay is much more expensive then failure.

Any delay. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hiding in school or hiding in shitty employment. If you’re putting off the active pursuit of your true calling and work life freedom, then you’re not fully in the game. And it’s costing you big time.