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When troubles mount and hope dissipates, when darkness falls and the night fills with sadness, and what is lost and the specter of fear looms, what carries you through? What purpose makes you fight on? What is your “WHY?” What keeps your dreams alive? “Why do I bother? Why am I paying this price?”

When you’re tempted to provide a stock answer, dig deeper. You want money? Why? To accomplish what with that money? What is the underlying purpose? Health? So that you can do what? Why do you want to do that? And if it’s tied to a person, what if that person was no longer around? Are you sacrificing yourself instead of traveling towards a mutually beneficial outcome? One old, standard response is “to leave a legacy.” Really? for whom? Do you think they really care? Is it worth it? And are they reciprocating or using you?

If you had millions of dollars, would you still be doing what you’re doing? If you were alone on this earth, would your goals still be applicable?

The objective, well thought out answers to these questions are important to long-term success, to inner strength. Identifying the real, logical reason for your aspirations, the core motive driving your ambition, is foundational to your ultimate success. Which brings us to the next level:

What is your alternative? What else could you do? How else could you accomplish this aim? What could you substitute for your present direction? An evolving, maturing person will naturally review his objectives, the intent behind those objectives, whether or not they are still desirable or even applicable, and his other options, instead of blindly stumbling forward across the obstacles with bleeding feet and decreased energy and hope.

After a careful, detached evaluation, which should occur regularly, one will be rejuvenated on one’s journey, be it on the same course or on a new one to a new target. It takes courage to sum things up, to look at the ledger of life, to face perhaps uncomfortable facts and evaluate the cost against the intended outcome, and most of all, to change course, to discard a previous passion.

This is because of two traps: the Sunk Cost Fallacy; “I have spent so much time and money on this, and publicly committed to it – how can I walk away from it now and save face?” – and the fear of the opinions of other people. First, better to change now and live a fulfilled, rejuvenated life, and second, to realize that what others – no matter who – think doesn’t matter. As you get older, this becomes glaringly apparent.

Take an hour or two in a quiet place, ideally in nature, to reconsider what carries you though, if the journey is still worth it, and what your alternatives are. You can only gain from this simple, yet valuable exercise.

Robin Elliott

P.S. Read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.

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