A Question Worth Asking.

Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can? 

Sun Tzu

Right from our very early days, we are told to be realistic. Yes, you are allowed to dream, but then you need to put those dreams aside and get down to work in the “real world”. We are told that the size of our bank accounts and the size of our apartments define who we are. We are told that if we don’t work hard, we will become a “nobody”.

I say let’s go against all that. Let’s refuse the dead-end jobs, the relationships going nowhere, the thing that just doesn’t work. Let’s learn to dream again, to do what we really want to do, what we’re passionate about. Let’s learn to be content with less external trappings and focus more on the essential things in life. Let’s imagine what we would do if we could do all we can.

The above quote by Sun Tzu is a crucial question that you need to be constantly asking yourself. By the very nature of things, we spend most of the time stuck in our usual ways, and we don’t get much done. By constantly taking the time to reflect on what we could do if we really tried, we bring ourselves one step closer to making that our reality.

Slowing down our lives is simply a critical tool that can help us do just that. Most people are too rushed to even begin reflecting on why, or even how, they go about their lives.

Do not accept what others tell you your limits are.

I firmly believe that we can all accomplish far more than we care, or dare, to admit. It just requires a strong focus, a lack of distraction, and meaningful work.

A strong focus can be developed in just thirty days, but, ironically enough, it requires focus to develop.

So how can we go about developing a solid focus to learn to concentrate on meaningful work? Well, I’ve found that applying strong emphasis to a limited subset of things in my life is actually relatively easy. Then the good habits that I have developed in one part of my life tend to split over into the other parts.

I’ve noticed that every time I exercise regularly, I mean 5 or 6 days a week, for longer than a month, a whole bunch of other changes start to happen. I begin to think more carefully about what I eat, I stop going out in the evenings as much, and I cut down on my alcohol consumption, which becomes almost negligible at that point.

This means that I end up with fewer distractions just because I focused on one part of my life.

This is great because a lack of distractions will actually allow you to use this intense focus. After all, you might have the most substantial focus in the world, but if you have a constant stream of distractions all day long, you will accomplish next to nothing.

The third and last requirement is the most important. Do something you care about, something meaningful. This doesn’t mean that you have to find the cure for cancer. You can find just as much, if not more, meaning creating a simple, beautiful song that others can enjoy than working in high finance.

The important thing is to set the barometer of “meaningful” by yourself, don’t let others, especially me, tell you what is and isn’t meaningful. This is incredibly important because meaning doesn’t come from outside but from inside.

So ask yourself:

What would I do if I could do all I can?

Related Essays