I was just walking by the Eiffel Tower a few hours ago. It was very beautifully lit up, with crews preparing for the lighting event tomorrow at midnight on New Years Eve. Apparently Paris doesn’t do fireworks anymore due to a recent legislation banning them, so there will just be a special lighting show on the tower as midnight approaches. I was standing on the sidewalk in front of the tower, next to many tourists from all over the world capturing pictures and memories of themselves in this moment, and I couldn’t help but reflect on this past year.
2011 was a year of rapid growth and understanding for me. I’m in awe looking back at where I was just a year ago, even in my posting about 2010 in reflection here on my blog last December. Since then I’ve done so many things including growing a business, traveling over 7 weeks this year including a 5 day hike to Machu Picchu (crossing off an item from my bucket list), and finding more clarity in everything I do.
Earlier this year I became an extrovert in an introvert’s body — networking and attending more events than I ever thought I would have the courage to (mostly out of necessity of being alone in a new city). I gave an Ignite talk to over 300 people about Chai, the largest public speaking event I had ever done after my 20 person Communications course in college. I pushed my comfort zone farther than I ever have in the past and started truly experiencing life.
While staring at the tower still in front of me, as rain drops pour overhead, a few epiphanies cross my mind as they seem to be doing these last few weeks.
We are experiencing an amazing time in human history. Where we are able to transcend limitations of geographical boundaries and connect with each other instantaneously over the internet. It changes everything we do, everything we know, and how we grow as human beings. We can share knowledge with anyone, anywhere, and be heard. Like Seth Godin wrote earlier this year, we are basically in control of our own production facilities with our laptops, the way the industrial revolution kicked off in the early 1900s with factories. We each control our own factory. We can build, publish and extend our knowledge and wisdom out into the world at lightening fast speed.
The implications of this are phenomenal. I feel as if we’re in a period similar to that of the Enlightenment period — rapid intellectual growth which lead to many new ideas that shaped the way we understand ourselves, the world, and the future. Was it obvious to those philosophers, thinkers, painters, and artists that they were in such a transformative period while it was happening? It must have been hard to imagine the impact at the time. Just before the emergence of the philosophers, the printing press was invented which allowed knowledge to be spread farther and wider than ever before. Stephen Johnson wrote in “Where do Good Ideas Come From” that a boom in Coffee shops gave rise to another phenomenon — the gathering of minds in a central spot to mix ideas together and evolve them to a point where they could be tangibly created in the physical world. Crowd-sourcing initiatives like Kiva and Kickstarter are showing the power of the internet now to bring together many individuals together for a common idea and produce something tangible in the world. We get inspired now by people who we’ve never met, but who we feel like we know completely. We tweet with people who we would never normally communicate with and create connections that were never possible even half a decade ago. Have you ever thought how magical it is to create a voice chat with another person over your phone? You are in essence creating a digital bridge across space and communicating on a face to face level with another human being (i.e being able to pick up on additional facial language cues) which creates a much more personal connection.
So what does this all mean?
It means our futures are chosen by us. We decide it. And now more than ever we can act on it and see results faster than ever before. If there was ever a passion in your life you felt you wanted to pursue more than anything else in the world, now is the time to act. Your message can touch millions of people at the click of a button if it resonates and the opportunity to make a life worth living for yourself is suddenly not a dream anymore. In return, you would not only gain freedom to enjoy life as you wish, but you would be contributing your own valuable gifts to the world and that’s the most beautiful thing — the epiphany that I had. It always seemed like a selfish thing — quit your job and enjoy a fun lifestyle outside of the corporate world while everyone else suffers… but that’s not the case at all. Each and every one of us has our own special talent, wisdom, or art to give to the world, but it’s being held back by societal bindings. Whether that be a job, a mortgage, loans — we all have societal baggage we carry around in our minds that cloud our ability to focus on what’s most important to us. Instead, you should reach inside towards that which touches your heart and soul and makes you feel alive; the core of your being that wants to make an impact in some way for your family, your community, your city, or the world. These will be the things that give your life meaning, purpose, and in pursuing them, lead you to happiness.
So rather than making 2012 resolutions, I say we acknowledge this great period of time we’re living in and make the most of our lives now and share our passions with others. Life is meant to be lived, not followed. Live your life now and always, never needing to make a resolution. Happy New Years everyone!