You can really do the thing. You can really achieve the dream and pursue your goal and make progress and find recovery.
But it has to start with one thing.
It has to begin with letting go of the old things.
There’s an ancient Greek word, ouketi, which means, “No longer.” The word is often used as, “I’m no longer who I was before.” It’s a sweeping decision to move forward into something new. It starts with knowing you cannot live as you were.
A focused person naturally turns down the volume on distractions. When you have a goal, you find out what’s most important. Priorities are prioritized; the things that don’t matter get dimmer and less attractive; there is intentional movement.
A big vision always begins with a singular, passionate, pin-point accuracy that requires closing the door behind you. Nothing good was ever achieved by looking forward and backward at the same time.
The problem is that we try to have the best of everything. We have our hands stretched between the old and the new. We’re scared of discipline or we despise self-control, because we think it infringes upon our “freedom.” We hate change; we drift to complacency, laziness, easiness, the path of least resistance. We cling to that draining relationship or unrestricted internet usage or that crowd of so-called friends or our unwillingness for accountability and messy community. The irony, perhaps, is that in wanting everything, we end up with even less than what we had.
We are limited finite beings and we do not have endless resources. There is only so much room in our souls. If you really want to do the thing, it requires cutting off a few things. I know that no one wants to hear about it, because it sounds like I’m telling you what to do. I get that. I hate it too. We naturally push back against authority. We’re individualistic creatures who want total autonomy — but autonomy is a process of depositing your choices in the right places in a consecutive momentum, so that later, you will have the unhindered ability to live the life you actually wanted. It’s like learning the notes on a keyboard, at first clumsy and restricted, but later being able to play the most beautiful of compositions and even making your own. We invest our first choices in the soil so that we may bloom for better choices in the sun.
I don’t meet many people who want to do this. I know it’s hard. I’m just as stubborn. I wish I could tell you it was easier. But real joy is carved from the best of who we are, and that means plowing in the un-glamorous, unsung work of bruised hands and a steady, beating heart.
Being inspired will only take you so far; emotions can only last so long. Eventually, we must exchange those initial rush of feelings into an ocean-deep passion that presses on, regardless of the voices around us.
It’s not a one-time decision. It means saying ouketi each and every day. Some days, it’ll feel like you’ve moved only an inch. You’ll relapse sometimes. You’ll be tempted to go back. But inch by inch, you’ll have moved miles without hardly knowing it. You will look back on those old things and wonder how you got so wrapped up in them. You’ll look into a future that you’ll finally be excited for.
You get to thank yourself later, after the long nights of wondering if this is worth it all. It turns out, it is. By God, it really is.
You can do the thing. Turn away, and don’t look back.