Earlier this month, comedian and actor Jim Carrey spoke to the graduating class of Maharishi University of Management, and a portion of his speech has now gone viral. So what did he say that prompted so many people to click “share”?
First he observed how guided by fear we are as a society.
“So many of us choose our paths out of fear disguised as practicality,” he said, pointing out the hard truth that we daily try to suppress—that even though our comfort zones are limiting, even restraining, we still choose them on a regular basis.
Well, comfort zones are comfortable. That goes without saying. The fear of venturing outside of a comfort zone is greater than the shame of stagnancy and unfulfilled dreams.
But Carrey’s father chose the safe path, and it failed him in the end. When Carrey was twelve, his father, an aspiring comedian who’d become an accountant, lost his job and the family struggled to survive. Carrey learned then that even the “safe” route is never guaranteed.
“You can fail at what you don’t want,” Carrey said to the Maharishi graduates, “so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
Change Your Path Today
Even if you’ve seen the video, the odds are good that you haven’t really changed a thing about your day-to-day life to incorporate his advice.
Here are three baby steps just to get the wheels churning and the momentum rolling. Think of them as exercises in self-analysis and motivation.
Step One: Revisit Your Childhood Dream
This is just a memory exercise. We all got the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” So how did your elementary-school-self respond to it? Sometimes we were fed answers like “astronaut” or “president,” but other times we were obsessed with animals and learned the word “zoologist” or “paleontologist” in order to impress the adults that asked us.
Now ask yourself: when were the moments that this answer changed and changed again? What inspired those changes? Follow that train to your passions. Write them down as you go. Circle the ones that still excite you.
Step Two: Edit Your Daily, Weekly, Monthly Routine
Now you’re going to take a seat and write down your schedule for the week. You’ve got your day job on there, possibly school, and the gym. This can be a loose schedule, but take account of your regular routine as it is now. Once that schedule is created, write up your ideal schedule, the one that has you waking up at 7 every morning and going on a run.
Now, take your passion (the one you determined in Step One) and turn it into something you can do for 1 hour every day, or every other day, whichever is most feasible. For example, if you want to be a chef, learn a new recipe in that timeslot. If you want to be a magician, watch online tutorials, practice for your pets or children, but do something that will help you improve.
No one’s making you sign up for classes just yet, but no one’s stopping you from honing your craft on your own either. Do what makes you happy. Remember, these are baby steps, and your confidence will grow as you spend more time working on your craft.
Step Three: Go Out on a Limb
Once you’ve got steps two and three under your belt and in motion, it will be time to do something just a little scarier. Sticking with the examples from Step Two, if you’re an aspiring chef, host a dinner for your extended family or list of friends. Make it a formal event with a full lineup of courses that you’ve personally created. Prepare surveys for your guests to provide honest feedback.
For you would-be magicians, organize a show for the neighborhood and prepare a half hour set to showcase your learned skills. Make sure you film it to start building your portfolio and tracking your progress.
Remember: You Are Your Most Formidable Barrier
You’re going to receive feedback from others whether or not you ask for it, but the critique that will matter the most is what you tell yourself every morning and night. Be your best and most loyal cheerleader, because no one is going to care about your dream more than you.
If you woke up financially independent tomorrow, what is the first new (or old) skill you would begin learning or perfecting?