The main character in T.S. Eliot’s famous poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” asks the question, “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?”
If you’re familiar with the poem, you know the speaker decides to let the universe “sleep.”
He’s so full of doubt in his power and so sure that the world will find him unworthy of attention, he remains painfully isolated.
And tragically, for most of my life, I’ve followed his lead.
The universe is vast. It’s given me whole galaxies to run around in, and yet more often than not, I’ve curled myself into a ball and made myself as small as possible.
I’ve always made “safe” decisions. Let others take the lead. Chosen logic over intuition and self-doubt over courage.
But not too long ago, I decided I wasn’t going to live that way anymore, and maybe you’re ready to make the change too.
Maybe you’re finally ready to “go for it,” whatever it is. Perhaps you’re tired of talking yourself out of those big steps that you long to take and even more tired of ruminating on what great things might happen if you did.
So let me share some facts I’ve learned on my quest to expand my universe that might be useful to you.
If you want to visit the disco ball made of stars and dance in the colors of the galaxy, you have to believe you can journey there. You have to think there is a space in the vastness reserved just for you.
So many times, I’ve sat and pondered, “Why do some people succeed while I fail?” Why do some people win millions of dollars in the lottery while I’m working myself to death to barely get by? Why do some people wake up happy, ready to punch the world in the face, when I usually open my eyes and think sadly, “Here I go again”?
As much as my ego wants to think these things are predestined, I know the truth deep down inside.
It’s because these people believe what they do makes a difference — a big difference. It’s because they feel each day holds the potential for two beautiful things, either a win or a step that will move them closer to winning what they want in life.
I’ve often found myself rolling my eyes in line at the convenience store while someone ahead of me wastes my time selecting lottery tickets.
What thoughts run through my head?
“Save your money. I saw you roll up in that car on its last legs, huffing and puffing simply to make it into the parking lot. Stop spending twenty bucks on that “Super 20” when your odds are one in two million and get your vehicle into the shop.”
But I realized there’s an important metaphor here, one that suddenly answered all the questions I had before about which people are successful and happy, which people win the “lottery” in life.
People who win these things are those that choose to play the game.
People who live in a state of joy and prosperity believe in possibilities. And that belief is something all of us who want more need in our lives.
What you can do:
Think of expanding your universe as similar to playing a game of darts with the galaxy. Decide to hurl your darts — your goals and dreams — out there and see what sticks.
That job you’ve been thinking of applying for? What have you got to lose?
Hurl the dart.
That girl you’re dying to ask out, the one you laugh and talk with every day at the local coffee shop?
Hurl the dart.
That gym you’ve been considering signing up for, the one you’re scared to set foot in because you’ll seem out of place among the “beautiful people”?
Hurl the dart.
Be aware. Some of your darts will miss the mark and fall to the ground.
But others will stick.
And that’s something to get excited about.
Remember, just how many darts stick depends on how many you’re willing to throw.
So take the risk. Say the words you’re scared to say. Do the things you’ve stopped yourself from doing.
By doing this, you’ll not only increase the chance you’ll get more of what you want out of life, but you’ll also be happier. After all, believing in the exciting possibilities life may hold is a much more pleasurable way to exist.
The universe holds innumerable treasures. But you won’t be able to snag them unless you do a little research.
So you’ve decided to play this game of darts and see what amazing things may hit the bull’s eye.
But remember, the more you learn about the game of darts, the better your aim will be.
That means you’ve got some investigating to do.
You need to focus on learning why your “darts” aren’t sticking and change your tactics.
Famous author Isaac Asimov gives good advice when he states that “your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”
You can’t give in to the temptation of assuming your co-worker got the promotion because he’s a flatterer. You can’t choose to believe the lie that others lost the weight because they have more time to exercise.
What good does this do you?
But here’s what will.
What you can do
Decide what darts you want to hurl towards the universe’s dartboard. But do a little study on your technique before you aim and throw.
Take a good look at your level of success and your strengths and weaknesses.
Better yet, be brave enough to ask a trusted other who know you.
Depending on what you want, it may mean asking your boss to evaluate your greatest strengths and weaknesses.
It may require asking a fitness trainer what the best exercises or plan of attack will help you build the body you want quicker and more effectively.
It may be asking friends why they think your relationships seem to fail time after time.
And sure, some of their knowledge will be useless or even incorrect.
But it gives you food for thought and allows you to analyze yourself in a way that you couldn’t do if you only relied on your own perceptions.
Another way to make the odds in your favor?
Do some reading on the goals that are most important to you.
Books are a wonderful way to help you evaluate your actions and advise you on what to do and what not to do to reach your goals.
The truth is that the more knowledge you have, and the more sources you receive it from, the more growth you can achieve.
The universe can be harsh, but it can also be merciful. Be ready when it decides to shine its kindness down on you.
How many of your regrets in life stem from the fact that there was an unbelievable opportunity that opened up for you, and you decided not to take it?
Maybe you told your friends something like, “The moment was perfect, but I clammed up” or “It was my perfect chance to ask (fill in the blank) or do(fill in the blank), but something held me back.”
What was that something?
Maybe you were scared. Maybe you didn’t feel ready. Maybe, truly, you weren’t ready.
And this is a mistake successful people rarely make.
They are always ready.
As motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says, “Success comes when opportunity meets preparation.”
Take the legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady was an unimpressive sixth-round draft pick in the NFL.
I’m sure he probably went to the New England Patriots expecting a lot of his time to be spent on the bench watching the Patriots’ first-string quarterback Drew Bledsoe in action.
However, shortly after the season began, Bledsoe was injured unexpectedly and sidelined for a month. Brady was immediately called in to play.
Thus began the legacy of what many people agree is the best quarterback ever to play football.
Before that unanticipated turn of events, I’m sure Brady wondered when, if ever, he would be given the opportunity to shine.
But that fact didn’t stop him from being ready if his time came.
And so that fateful day of September 23, 2001, when the universe knocked on his door with five minutes and three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, what did Brady do?
He put on his helmet and, “I’m already packed and ready to go.”
The unpleasant truth is success very rarely falls in your lap. But when the opportunity arises to get a step ahead in your pursuits, you’d better have on your running shoes.
Or you may spend the rest of your life regretting it.
What this means to you
Even though you may not realize it, every day holds thousands of opportunities for you to move closer to what you want.
So anticipate them. Prepare for them.
This way, when the moment arises, you are less apprehensive and have more emotional control over your response.
For example, if you are too nervous about bringing up an idea you think will benefit the company at the weekly board meetings, do it when you check in daily to see if your boss wants you to pick him up some lunch.
If you know the company meets after work on Fridays for drinks, go. Then wait for the right moment to present itself. Be sure you know what you will say and how you will say it.
Maybe you’ve been interested in a guy at the gym. When you’re in line at the water fountain, come prepared with a fitness question you can ask him to spark conversation.
Philosopher Francis Bacon said that “a wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”
That means when the universe gives you that perfect moment to move forward in whatever it is you seek, be ready to go.
And if no perfect opportunity presents itself, find a way to make one appear.
The Bottom Line:
Motivational speaker and author Dr. Steve Maraboli says, “The universe doesn’t give you what you ask for with your thoughts; it gives you what you demand with your actions.”
So believe in yourself and commit to doing the work.
Decide that no matter how great your fear, you will not search for black holes to hide in.
Then, go ahead. Disturb the universe. It needs a little waking up anyway.
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