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You can do anything

“The world is full of opportunities. You can do anything you want with your life. Your wildest dreams are possible. Just believe in them.” Ever heard this before? I bet you did. But do you actually believe it?

I do. I believe I can do the most unimaginable things because I am actually doing them. How trivial does that sound?

I was recently asked this curious question at 7pm anywhere. In the 40 seconds I had to reply, inspiration for the article you are now reading rushed through my head like a river. Yet I think I crystalized the flood perfectly in a four-character droplet of confidence: “Yes.”

We have a certain idea of what is possible for us and what is not. These boundaries are based on our past experience. If you ran a mile before, you know how you could do it again. And if you have never made a thousand dollars in a day, it may sound like an impossible sum.

We automatically shut ourselves off from things we perceive to be beyond our power. I am writing this on a flight from Hong Kong to Sydney. It is my twenty-third flight in the past twelve months and moving between continents has become a simple routine for me. But when I talk about travel with most of my friends, all I hear is “wow, I wish I could travel like you” and “I could never do that”. When I launch into explanations that flying is not all that expensive, that English is spoken almost everywhere and that all you really need is confidence in your ability and willingness to tackle whatever situation comes your way, they just do not listen. It is as if we were from different planets.

And we are. The crucial difference between us lies in belief stemming from personal experience. The gap between intellectually knowing something and truly believing it is incredibly huge. The best way to bridge it is to always question your limitations and try to do the impossible, to push yourself and do scary things, to do what you have never done before. The benefit of this cannot be explained. It must be experienced.

“I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

— Pablo Picasso

I used to think I was a weak brainiac with no muscle – until I got to the point when I could swim ten miles and do six hundred pushups each week. I thought I had little money – until I realized I hold assets on three continents and my programming skills guarantee me handsome income in any part of the world. I thought I was a shy introvert hiding in a shell – until I noticed I am constantly meeting interesting people who find me interesting as well, and we spend hours and hours in deep conversations. I thought I had to follow prescribed paths and give up power over my life to external circumstances – until I realized that I am the one to make, bend and break my own rules. Life is too short not to be free.

We are whoever we believe we are.

This is the way to grow. Look for what you perceive to be your limitations and actively set out to destroy them. Note the word “perceive”. No excuses can stand up to the ultimate proof of reality: doing the thing instead of talking about why it is impossible.

“They did not know it was impossible, so they did it.”

— Mark Twain

Whether you are one of the friends I have mentioned or not, whether you dream about travel or money or love or anything else… my message to you is one. Go and break out of your self-imposed boundaries. Make the impossible possible.

February 14, MMXIII — Personal, Life Lessons.