I introduced you to the “f&%# it!”attitude in my last article. This somewhat “out there” perspective will free you to pursue your life without fear or inhibition. But the “f&%# it!” attitude doesn’t come easily. Most of us are so heavily invested in all aspects of our life that it’s a real challenge to let go. But the “f&%# it!” attitude is achievable and, yes, oh so worth it.
”F&%# It!” Takes Courage
A client of mine wanted to ask his boss for a promotion, but was terrified of her saying no. He realized that he was well respected, deserved the promotion, and would be no worse off if his boss said no. So, he marshalled the courage and asked (he got the new position). Saying “f&%# it” to yourself and the world is scary. Your life as it is now may not make you happy, but you’ve been at it long enough that it is at least familiar and predictable, which offers some comfort in and of itself.
When you say “f&%# it!,” you are giving up much that is familiar, predictable, and controllable in your life and, in a way, the comfort that accompanies it. In its place, you are entering a psychological and emotional landscape that is unfamiliar and uncertain and may not be entirely within your control. Though this shift can be unsettling at first, I assure you that you will find it liberating after a while.
That is why courage may be the single most important characteristic for embracing the “f&%# it!” attitude and changing your life. Letting go of your fears and making a change requires risk. Risk is daunting because when you risk, you may fail (of course, the other side of the coin is that only by taking risks can you truly succeed).
Courage also provides the commitment you need to initiate a new life and the conviction to adhere to that new path. Courage enables you to resist your old unhealthy habits and patterns, and to make difficult choices to do what is in your best interests, however uncomfortable it might initially make you feel. It is courage that enables you to let go of the familiarity and comfort of your past life and grab on to the hope that a new life will provide you.
Having the courage to accept the “f&%# it!” attitude and begin the process of changing your life is much like jumping into cold water. You know it will be a shock at first. It will be uncomfortable and you will initially regret having taken the plunge. But after you are in the water for a short while, you begin to adapt to the coldness. What was then intimidating is now approachable. What had been unknown is now familiar. What was then painful is now invigorating.
How to muster your courage:
- Focus on the benefits of saying “f&%# it” and taking action
- Recognize that if the risk fails, you’re no worse off than you were before
- Use positive self-talk (e.g., “You got this!”)
- Prepare yourself as much as you can
- Practice what you want to do
- Get support from family and friends
“F&%# it” Takes a Leap of Faith
Ultimately, if you really want to say “f&%# it!” and change your life, you must take a leap of faith. A great philosopher (Yoda, of Star Wars fame!) once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” The leap of faith begins with the conviction that you don’t want to continue down the path that your current life has been taking you any longer; that it will only bring you more unhappiness and discontent. The leap of faith involves having a basic belief in yourself and a fundamental trust in the vision of who, what, and where you want to be in the future. The leap of faith involves the belief that good things will happen when you say “f&%# it!,” that when you free yourself from the shackles that currently bind you, you will create a healthy, new life.
I often use an analogy from the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in which Indiana Jones is in search of the Holy Grail (An appropriate metaphor here, wouldn’t you say?). He is following a map that leads him along a treacherous path toward the Holy Grail. Near the end of his journey, Jones comes to a seemingly bottomless chasm across from which is the doorway to the Holy Grail. There is no apparent bridge across the abyss, yet the map shows a picture of a man stepping into the void and speaks of taking a leap of faith that will enable Jones to traverse the gap. Gathering his courage, Jones takes that leap of faith and finds that there is an invisible bridge that he can walk across to seize the Holy Grail. Against the direst of consequences if he was wrong (plummeting to his death!), Jones had the faith to choose the path that led him to the Holy Grail. Similarly, you must also have the strength of your conviction to take that initial leap of saying “f&%# it!” (especially realizing that your worst-case scenario is nothing like that faced by Indiana Jones).
The leap of faith in adopting the “f&%$ it” attitude begins with, well, faith, that you can make a change in your life. That faith starts with the conviction that you just can’t continue your life as it is any longer. It also involves focusing on the positive aspects of change and directing your energy and efforts onto the encouraging new course of your life. Realize that you can never be 100 percent sure that things will work out the way you want—if you didn’t have doubts, it wouldn’t require a leap of faith.
How to Take a Leap of Faith
- Recognize and accept that some misgivings are normal
- Envision your new life and how wonderful you will feel to find what you seek
- Remind yourself that you aren’t relying on blind faith;you are ready and able to make the change
- Use your lifetime of knowledge and skills to help you change your life
- Make a list of all of the support you can rely on as you take the leap of faith: family, friends, mentors, community
- Focus on the leap more than where you land
If you accept the “f&%# it!” attitude, you can be sure that, at the end of a day, a year, or your life, you will not have to experience the most frustrating of all emotions — regret. What does regret mean? That you wish you had done something differently. The sad reality is that there are no dress rehearsals in life, there is no time machine that gives you opportunities for do-overs. You get one shot at life, so you might as well take it. Otherwise, there will be a whole lot of “woulda, coulda, shoulda” when you look in the rearview mirror.
I don’t know many people who have regrets when they acted on an opportunity, even if it didn’t work out. I do know many people who have immense regret for what they didn’t do, for when they failed to act when an opportunity arose, whether the job not taken, the idea not pursued, or the person not asked out on a date. Yet, when your life is blocked by doubt, worry, and fear, regret is what you will surely experience.
A nurse who takes care of dying patients described the five regrets that she heard most frequently. The first regret is perhaps the most elemental because it lies at the heart of the “f&%# it!” attitude: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” The “f&%#-it!” attitude empowers you to jettison the expectations of others and create a life that is authentic and rewarding.
When you have the “f&%#-it!” attitude, you are encouraged to embrace every opportunity you come upon. Of course, many of those opportunities will lead to dead ends and, in some cases, devastation or heartbreak. You will naturally feel disappointed that they didn’t turn out the way you wanted. But that feeling of disappointment will be mild and short lived compared to the feeling of regret you would feel if you didn’t “take your shot.” You will feel a certain pride in knowing that at least you went for it and gave it your all.
What does it feel like to say “f&%# it!?” Not long ago, I was working with an accomplished businesswoman, Tricia, who came to me because she felt she was living a life of profound emptiness. Her job had created a truly unhealthy lifestyle of too much travel, too little sleep, and poor eating. She had little time to exercise, had put on considerable weight, and just felt lousy about herself. Plus, the long hoursat workprevented her from maintaining meaningful friendships or exploring romantic relationships. After several months exploring all that was causing Tricia to lead such a toxic life, she decided to embrace the “f&%#-it!” attitude, quit her high-powered job, and commit to her dream of being a novelist. One day, Tricia came to my office and told me that she had an exciting and healing epiphany the previous night. With tears in her eyes and a smile on her face, she said, “I realized that I would never have to go back to the way I used to live my life. I have never felt such joy!”
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