Life is based on decisions. Either you drink a glass of coffee or you write for five minutes longer. Either you put the money in savings or you go out for a nice dinner. Either you ask for the divorce or you keep trying for one more year. Decisions.
Often they hurt, but that’s a good sign. You can understand that better here. I’ve come to realize that more clearly with my American girlfriend because I’ve learned that in English, there is an expression: the calm before the storm. I believe it exists because they have hurricanes and that’s how the weather behaves there.
I was born in Brazil, however, and we have tropical storms, which are more like monsoons. They come from nowhere, they are strong, they are intense and they can last a long time, but there’s always a very nice sun after. For that reason, the Portuguese expression is translated to the calm after the storm. Thinking of this, I began to recognize a pattern.
Life is a rollercoaster. If everything is good, calm and happy you tend to notice more easily different stimuli like hard times, challenges and things that take you out of your comfort zone, just like being in a real rollercoaster and reaching a sudden drop.
The opposite, however, is also true. If you are going through a very strict diet for months and then you eat chocolate, oh God, that will be THE BEST chocolate.
However, the drop is only the drop and the chocolate is only the chocolate; it`s your perspective that fools you into experiencing things differently.
Therefore, life is all about experience, and decisions lead you to different types of experience. If you can endure for longer outside your comfort zone, you will learn more and have newer experiences. They are always challenging in some way, and sometimes painful emotionally or even physically, but yet you chose to be there, right?
Honestly, I don’t know a better feeling than deciding to go against Goliath with a slingshot, and after an excruciating and dreadful fight enduring long enough to see him fall. It`s because I chose to be there, and the victory is only mine. Nobody else can take that from me, and it will be always in my memories so I can look back and remember what I`m capable of.
But there is a complicated side to decisions, which is when you decide to do things for others. These kinds of decisions require twice as much consideration over if it’s worth it.
Don’t get me wrong; altruism is good, and doing things over true charity is not doing things for others. Actually that has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.
I’m not talking about buying food for a homeless person instead buying yourself a gift. I’m not talking about taking the trash out for your brother because you want to help. Charity, somehow, is egocentric. We do that for ourselves because we truly want to, because it makes us feel good.
What I am talking about is a complex decision to let go of something that matters to you so you can give preference to somebody else’s desires. I’m talking about sacrifice. I’m talking about when it doesn’t feel right, when it doesn’t feel good, when we definitely don’t do it for ourselves.
I’m talking about facing Goliath when you just wanted to go home, have dinner and get a good night’s sleep. I’m talking about becoming a soldier for your family’s honor when you wanted to be a teacher, or when you move to Toronto because your wife likes cold weather and you actually love sunny beaches.
I’m talking about experiencing things that will make you wonder, sooner or later, about if you really made the right decision after all.
I studied four years of computer engineering and three years of law in the top private colleges in my country, not because my family asked, but because I wanted to make them proud. That was the worst decision of my life.
I sold my company, three stores, two e-commerces and a nutritional consulting office to work with my family’s business and to stay close to them, and that was the second worst decision of my life.
I stopped practicing martial arts, going to the gym, hanging out with my friends and doing things that I liked for my girlfriend in my last relationship, and that was the third worst decision of my life.
When the time came for them to understand my needs and to help me face my Goliath they didn’t think more than two seconds before turning their backs on me.
I’ve lost almost half a million dollars worth of properties and companies. I’ve lost almost ten years of my life, and it didn’t feel good. That’s why I use the word lost, because I will never get that time back.
In June of 2013 I suffered a stress-induced cardiac attack at the age of 23. Six months later I suffered my second life-threatening motorcycle accident. Both times I was sure I was going to die, and looking back on my life, the only things I regretted were those three decisions.
That’s because deep down, the decisions I made were based in others’ interests, against my gut, against my heart, and against my dreams. Doing that is like constructing your kingdom on top of someone’s rag; they can pull it out from under you at any time.
I was sure of that when I had the pleasure to work for almost five years as a business partner with one of the finest police officers of my country. He had all sorts of Special Forces training and experience, always worked in the most hardcore squads and, believe me, that’s not an easy ride around here. He got shot a few times, in the vest thankfully, but he had experienced his life slipping through his fingers too. He was capable of synthesizing, in his own dark way, what I was trying to wrap my head around with those experiences I told you above.
“When the time comes to make a decision that can cost your life or that of someone you care about, be sure to make the decision you wanted, because if one day you are laying in bed waiting for the reaper, you will die a man who owned his own life.”
That was one of the most important things I’ve learned in my life: True Ownership.
Being capable of sleeping at night knowing that regardless of right or wrong, you did what YOU thought was best. We are human; it is our most basic condition to make mistakes, and that’s what makes us evolve.
Despite error after error, scar after scar, if you persevere your Goliath will eventually fall, and it will feel great. When facing someone else’s Goliath, however, be sure that the person is worth it. Be sure that the person will be there for you when you need it.
I’m not saying that you should do things always expecting something in return. What I’m saying is that your life is priceless, your dreams are unique and your time is limited.
There is no greater miracle or grace than being alive. If you are going to sacrifice it for something or someone, make sure that in the future they will be there for you in the very same way.
Love and believe yourself more than anything, listen to your heart, to your intuition.
All the choices that I’ve taken in direction of my dreams made me face many Goliaths, but in the end it was always worth it.
All the choices that I’ve made because someone expected something from me sooner or later cost me things that I will never get back, and until the day I die I will continue to regret them.
Owning yourself, your free will, is the greatest gift of all; make sure you use it wisely.