Follow Your Excitement

Follow Your Excitement

Look at your To Do list right now. Does it make you smile?

Or consider a snapshot of yesterday… does the thought of repeating it make you shake with anticipation?

If it doesn’t then something is wrong.

It’s our birthright to be excited. Yet, we squander it to fulfill objectives and quotas with the promise of fulfillment later.

We turn the beautiful joy of moving our bodies into repetitive cycles on sweaty steel, heart rate tracking machines (ever see kids doing that?).

We turn love making into an event and make orgasm our singular focus.

We disfigure the joy of work into a chore by routinely following a boring set of tasks.

But instead of questioning our approach altogether, we strain ourselves to be more disciplined and focused. We create complicated systems, checklists and rewards for doing things we don’t really care about doing. We try to cover rotting walls with colorful wallpaper. And every time the corrosion starts to show underneath, we attempt to patch it up again.

On some level, we resist excitement. We think that art should involve struggle, accomplishments require sacrifice and goals take hard work. The reward comes later.

Sounds like bullshit to me.

My “fitness program” at five was riding a Big Wheel, climbing trees and seeing how high I could jump off the swing (the ultimate challenge). My regimen at fifteen was a mix of football after school, grueling wrestling practices (I’ve yet to experience any training as demanding as wrestling), and lifting weights in the gym. I always remember from a very young age having a desire to have superhero-like physical abilities. But it wasn’t until high school that my training started to become calculated and regimented. And it was around that time that I began to feel judgment and disappointment set in.

When I didn’t lift more weight than the week before or missed a training session, the Voice of Judgment would set in. Movement began ceasing to be a joy and more of a means to satisfy my ego.

After high school I tried going to gyms off and on but never found satisfaction in it. I would get excited about being “ripped” at first, then the luster would fade. A part of me that was stirring from hibernation knew that I was trying to compartmentalize fitness. It felt icky and unauthentic.

Regaining your joy involves burning the scripts

Now I see movement as not just a means to be strong — something that’s been a desire of mine since I was a superhero aspiring boy — but as a way to express joy and creativity. Jeet Kune Do helped me recapture that. MovNat has as well. Whether it’s moving our bodies or moving through life, being alive in this moment and remaining curious keeps our excitement alive.

Whenever we become molded to patterns we cement ourselves in them. We lose our ability to explore, wander and improvise.

Curiosity = openness. It is oxygen to excitement.

Boredom and drudgery is the result of wanting to memorize scripts and act out our lives knowing what’s coming in each act. Not knowing is terrifying. It’s also where opportunity and breakthroughs lay hidden in uncharted paths, waiting for us to spark a flame in our hearts and shed light on the unknown.

Following your excitement is both about choosing exciting paths, and the way you show up

Waking up excited isn’t just about embarking on blood circulating pursuits (though it goes a long way). It’s about the way you show up. One is external: challenging and breathtaking terrain. The other an inward self-possession: ready, present, openness.

Be deliberate about the contents of your actions. Then forget everything and be open to this moment, letting the beautiful flow of life carry you downstream toward your vision. Know that as you move along you may learn that what you thought you wanted will change. The original destination you envisioned is simply a direction. For your guidance system to work with precision it must be continually adjusting course.

The alchemy of excitement is one part deliberate will, and one part vulnerable fluidity.

The intention of following your excitement is worth striving toward. It’s happiness now. Not someday.

Waking up excited is about…

  • Dying to the past
  • Admitting what sucks… and having the courage to drop it
  • Staleness and boredom — it creates the contrast and drive for us to renew our wonderment
  • Outsourcing, omitting and automating what doesn’t excite us
  • Childlike curiosity
  • Standing on the edge
  • Embracing beauty in the seemingly mundane
  • Eating inspiration for breakfast
  • Freshly minted ideas
  • Looking at the old with newborn eyes
  • A choice

Here’s to Heart Racing. Bright eyed wonderment. Excitement over certainty.

Have you ever squandered excitement in place of objectives and “self improving” goals? Share down below, then send this to someone that needs their pilot lit.

photo courtesy of jurvetson

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Broderick May 5, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Outsourcing! Yes! I didn’t realize how cool this could be. There are actually people out there who would love to do different jobs you don’t want to do, and they’ll do them well.

Hard lesson to learn for a person who likes doing things himself.

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Rosemary May 5, 2011 at 3:42 pm

“Ready, Present, Openness…Yesssss! I am with you on this every step of the way Jonathan. We make such a big deal of creativity…cementing ourselves into the nothingness instead of simply being open to what we know is there. Love this post.

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Evan May 5, 2011 at 3:53 pm

This is very true.

If you don’t know where your excitement is though you can also follow your pain. (Not give into it or avoid but be with it and let it teach you.)

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David William May 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Work out like you’re five! Man I like that! I am going to really meditate on this one. Idea for a future post just right there.

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Tom May 6, 2011 at 9:25 am

Has anyone ever noticed that Saturday mornings feel differnent than any other day. The suns brighter, the airs cleaner. It feels like a summer day when you were a kid. Am I right? I want everyday to feel that good!

Jonathan May 6, 2011 at 10:45 am

Seriously, I think there’d be less disturbing grunting in gyms if we all did this.

Jared May 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Well said my friend.

Somehow the conditioning of the past sometimes creeps in to tell us, “You need to press through. Tough it out. No pain no gain.”

Utter bullshit!
*J

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Christian Ficara May 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Don’t forget that you can even outsource within your own house! I have certain tasks I either don’t mind or actually like doing. Others I completely dread. Taking an afternoon to be honest about tasks we liked or disliked, we discovered that a lot of my likes were in her dislike column. A good amount of her likes were in my dislike column as well. We take the tasks we like and ‘outsource’ the ones we don’t like to each other! The ones we both dislike we either split down the middle or actually outsource them.

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Alex Blackwell | The BridgeMaker May 6, 2011 at 3:20 am

I’m with you Jonathan. Erasing my self-limiting tapes and then replacing them with new tapes that tell me I can do anything I set my heart and mind to is making all the difference in my life.

Thanks for your encouragement!

Alex

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David | Listen Feel Breathe May 6, 2011 at 3:59 am

Hi Jonathan,

great article- for me the best bit is “Be deliberate about the contents of your actions. Then forget everything and be open to this moment, letting the beautiful flow of life carry you downstream toward your vision. Know that as you move along you may learn that what you thought you wanted will change. The original destination you envisioned is simply a direction. For your guidance system to work with precision it must be continually adjusting course.”

That is some really awesome advice and something that so many overlook when obstacles crop up and they lose heart because they think that they’ll never reach their goals.

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Dave Ursillo May 6, 2011 at 7:25 am

Killer piece, Jonathan. Nothing to add on my end, simply an excellent motivator. -D

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NICOLE Bowe-Rahming May 6, 2011 at 8:14 am

Jonathan I have only been following for a few weeks now and I must say that you never cease to bring a smile to my face and a new pep to my step! I am looking forward to excitement and fluidity in my days!! Keep it comin’!!

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Jonathan May 6, 2011 at 10:43 am

Thank you Nicole, that’s really sweet of you.

Jonathan Pincas May 6, 2011 at 8:19 am

If you run your own business, I think it’s a good long-term goal to restrict your activities to what excites you and outsource or ignore the rubbish. Concentrate on what you love doing and you’ll probably end up doing it well and your business will be all the better for it. I, for example, hate chasing customers for payment, so rarely do it. Most of time they end up paying anyway – and I’m free to concentrate on what I love doing, which is cooking up new ideas to make my business even better. Have to say though, there is still plenty of stuff I hate doing but have no choice other than to do myself – and I’m sure that’s the case for 99% of people!

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Jonathan May 6, 2011 at 10:43 am

Absolutely. It’s a small up front investment that has big pay offs.

Phyllis May 6, 2011 at 8:23 am

This is a very timely post for me. It asks the questions that I have been asking myself: Where is my excitement? Why do I feel burdened as soon as I wake up? Why am I making to-do lists in my head before I even roll out of bed, lists that I hope will help me get through all of those boring, atrophying things that hold no joy for me. If I were waking up to do what truly excited me, there wouldn’t even be a NEED

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Ethan May 6, 2011 at 9:12 am

Jonathan- After I graduated from college, I spent a year waiting tables and writing music every day. Then, for some inexplicable reason, I started feeling guilty or somehow worthless that i wasn’t starting a “career” in my field (training/communications). Looking back on that year in Ithaca, it was the happiest of my adult life. I’ve been withering on the corporate vine for the past 3 years, and I’m near my quitting point. Together with you’re help, I’m proud to say that i’m actually DOING something about my situation by launching a business around what I’m passionate about. Thanks!

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Jonathan May 6, 2011 at 10:43 am

I’m really excited for you Ethan. I know that you’re on to big things.

ayngelina May 6, 2011 at 9:12 am

I really like the thinking – if you had to relive yesterday over again, would you want to, would you be excited about it

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Jonathan May 6, 2011 at 10:42 am

Yep, it’s a litmus test that doesn’t lie…

Nailah May 6, 2011 at 9:17 am

Thanks for this post! I can completely identify with taking the joy out of something by turning it into some sort of job. I love running but I always lose my excitement with it when I start focusing on running marathons rather than on just running for the joy of it. This is a great reminder to focus on the things that bring you joy and avoid the urge to make it anything more than that – something that you love. Thanks again!

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Ashley Inzer May 6, 2011 at 10:35 am

Just what I needed to read today. I laid in bed for hours this morning because of the anxiety I felt about all I had to do today. As if resisting doesn’t compound the stuckness. After reading this I have been gettin it all done. Next time I am going to drop the shit I hate and be ruthless in following the lead of excitement. I am just really not interested in living any other way.

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Jonathan May 6, 2011 at 10:41 am

Ziiing!

Maaike Quinn @ A Gorgeous Life May 6, 2011 at 11:35 am

Yes, yes! I love this post, Jonathan!

Every once in a while – usually when a new Nancy Drew computer game is about to get launched :p – I get so excited, I don’t know to do with myself. Shall I go to bed early, so I will get up early as well in order to start playing as soon as possible? Shall I stay up late so I’m able to think about the new game all night? Shall I stay awake all night? Woohoo!!

Somehow, when I was a child, I’d feel this way all the time. I’m not able to recall the feeling very often, but whenever it’s there, I treasure it like crazy.

:D:D:D

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Barak Rosenbloom May 6, 2011 at 11:55 am

Fantastic!

A few weeks ago I started a morning ritual (thanks to Eban Pagan’s “Wake Up Productive” course)–I’m building in about 20-30 minutes of physical play and my days are better than ever (I’m a night owl,and usually play late in the day).

Over the last four years I’ve shifted “exercise” to play and movement. I spend less time at it, enjoy it a whole lot more, and at 45 am now in better shape than in years. Another great resource (if you haven’t found him yet) is exuberantanimal.com — they’re planning on creating more consumer-centric approaches, but you’ll love Frank’s philosophy.

And your curiosity quotation is brilliant. I’ve believed for years that getting curious is the single most important thing we can do, and the most powerful tool for learning and transformation. I recently co-authored an ebook (free for anyone at timenative.com) called “The Curious Person’s Alternative to Time Management: Delete the Stress, Do What Matters, Enjoy Life.”

Thanks for another great article!

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Mike May 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I like your style my man. Yes ,I do get lost during the week ,being a 1-man band with no-one to bounce ideas against siting in front my mac. Got to keep my burning desire burning and paint what I’m doing ,with “word frames” in such a way that it keeps that vital spark going .The way you use words around what your doing can make or break it , and we are not aware how we talk to ourselves at times…Without the spark, success will be like the lottery.

I’m not even going to tell you the job title I’ve anointed myself with ! I’ll put it on my business card one day when I have the balls !

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Justin | Mazzastick May 6, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Jonathan,
Boredom is a wake-up call to ourselves to do something else. The road we are on is boring.

It’s time that we all begin to live with what excites us as opposed to what we habitually do.

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Tim May 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Hey! Working out doesn’t have to be that bad :) Damn this article is potent. Great stuff as always Jonathan, thank you.

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Mike Radivis May 7, 2011 at 5:01 am

Wow, this article finally convinced me that you are one of the very best in your field, Jonathan!

Even though I preach excitement myself I find it very difficult to keep it up. There’s just too much stuff spamming into my life that it distracts me from following my excitement! Decluttering and focusing on the essential is absolutely necessary for becoming and staying excited. And I’m really excited about doing that right now! Thanks for your great piece of catalytic inspiration! :)

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Todd Pettee May 7, 2011 at 7:30 am

Very well written. This is my favorite part…

“Not knowing is terrifying. It’s also where opportunity and breakthroughs lay hidden in uncharted paths, waiting for us to spark a flame in our hearts and shed light on the unknown.”

For me, excitement comes from learning or doing something new. I can’t control myself when I’m about to embark on a new adventure with many unknowns.

I think that most others feel quite the opposite. They feel more comfortable when things are familiar and they aren’t required to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone.

Excellent post Jonathan! I’m looking forward to reading a lot more from you.

Todd

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Cara Stein May 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Hell yeah!!! This is what I’m working toward. I can’t wait to ditch my day job and do only love work.

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Renee Dien-Wilson May 8, 2011 at 12:13 am

Awesome article. Such a simple, pure premise. Its crazy because I had been discussing this exact phenomenon only today with my friend and we decided there IS something that happens between childhood and adulthood which skews our decisions – and you nailed it – ego & judgement. Following the agenda of others, rather than listening to our hearts also kills joy & excitement. There is exhilaration in hearing & following your heart’s voice :-)

Thanks Jonathan. Inspirational as always.

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Matt Willard May 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I definitely agree with this – follows what I mentioned to you the other day, that is, but you placed it in some very interesting words. I often get rooted in “accomplishments” and other kinds of quotas, but I’m happiest when I go with the flow and do cool stuff…although gradually building confidence on the goal I’m pursuing definitely feels awesome, too. Just gotta figure out how to do that with writing more easily…and maybe with beating distractions, too!

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Nikki May 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I loved this! After reading, I made a list of things I loved to do as a kid. I’ve never considered myself to be athletic but I was always riding bikes, skating, playing baseball and running. I’ve never considered myself to be a performer but I was always singing, dancing and performing in talent shows. I was good at everything I did and I’d forgotten that. Thanks for helping me to remember. Time to unravel those adult-conceived notions about myself…

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Logan Marshall May 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Fantastic article!

I definitely share your same discontentment with our cultural ways of exercising. In fact, explorative/playful/natural movement is actually the topic of my blog. The thought of working out in the sweaty confinement of the gym makes me cringe. Barefoot running, tree climbing and epic adventures is where it’s at! And just like you said, this excitement and joy doesn’t have to stop when our workouts do.

Thanks for spreading the word, I love to see the MovNat/natural movement way of training gaining momentum!

All the best,

Logan

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Christa Herzog May 10, 2011 at 6:02 am

A great post. It is sad how few people follow their excitements and their dreams. But you know, there are so many obstacles and only a few people are strong enough to face them. And isn’t it strange that whatever we really want to do ask for taking risks and some hardship. People who go through that hardship get paid with a wonderful feeling of happiness.

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TBT May 10, 2011 at 6:51 pm

OMG This post really, really spoke to me. I’ve heard almost all this stuff before but, for some reason, this post – right now – right me – just renewed my excitement and conviction about living life on my terms, about being happy now, and about maintaining a child-like curiosity always!

‘One part will and one part deliberate fluidity’ …don’t know if this is the correct ratio but it sure has the right ingredients!

Thank you a million times!

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Daniel M. Wood May 12, 2011 at 2:35 am

Thank you for this reminder.
Sometimes my to-do list really feels like a killer since it will take so much time to complete, but I love everything that is on it. All of it consists of great fun tasks.

Why complain? Why stress?
When you can really have fun doing the things on the list.

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Craig Morton May 12, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Hi Jonathan…I just signed up for Paid to Exist. I’m stoked. Look forward to working with you….Craig

Jonathan May 17, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Hello,
I was directed here my Tyler from Advanced Riskology, and this is the first post I have read. I have subscribed and will be back regularly because you are yet another person that truly gets “it”.

It’s one thing to not be excited about the day, but it’s quite alarming how many people just accept it.

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JonathanMead May 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm

This commenting thing is awesome!

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bwood345 May 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I especially liked this part: “Not knowing is terrifying. It’s also where opportunity and breakthroughs lay hidden in uncharted paths, waiting for us to spark a flame in our hearts and shed light on the unknown.”

The unknown is scary, but I’ve learned a lot from stepping out of my comfort zone and taking risks.

I made my own “Shyness Project” (http://theshynessproject.wordpress.com/) this year and I didn’t know where it was going to take me. But it has been an amazing experience and I have discovered that I can achieve my goals if I persevere and do things that scare me. It is important to enjoy the moment though, like you say, and not get caught up in the end result. Great post!

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JenniferKing May 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

I totally understand what you are talking about. I am a nurse and I just took the whole summer off to live life through the eyes of my three awesome children. I have a passion for music and dancing. This summer I will give in to that desire and enroll in an adult ballet class…these things excite me. Life is too short , and I for one, don’t want to live with any regrets!

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duffmcduffee June 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I outsource tasks I don’t want to do to the part of me that is willing to do the right thing whether I want to or not.

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bbglaser September 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Thanks for this, Jonathan. You are a great writer, and what an important plug for an emotion that is so misunderstood in this time. Although excitement, (as you mentioned) has the power to bust through the crusty layers of our habitual mode, and can be the wind that fills our sails to move towards our dreams, I notice how many people are uncomfortable feeling or expressing it, and therefore sit on it.

I was once so excited after a great meeting with an agent, but I kept a lid on it, thinking I didn’t want to a) create expectations, b) act like a “girl” (picture screaming teens at a concert) or c) brag. I ended up in a tremendous amount of anxiety that week, until I realized I was stifling my excitement in favor of being “cool.” I had a good jump up and down, a big laugh and starry eyes for five minutes while dreaming of the possibilities, and sat back down to work.

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CourtRJ December 4, 2011 at 1:27 am

And on the other end, what about us overly excited people who have trouble prioritizing our excitement?

Excellent post, Jonathan. It is truly a pleasure to relinquish the idea that you have to choose one path, one future right now and stay on it blindly no matter what new intrigue crosses your path!

-Courtney

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Tom Pinit December 9, 2011 at 9:36 am

Jonathan, this is so great. Thanks for the inspiring reminders and ways to unlock that inner 6-year-old that is dying to re-emerge. And to ease up and let my children live their carefree lives now, and in the moment!

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Jonathan May 6, 2011 at 10:42 am

Yep, it’s absolutely possible. You’re not the only one.

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Derek Potocki @ Smart Goals May 8, 2011 at 3:09 am

Hi Tom,
I’ve noticed that. One thing has been bothering me for a long time. I hate to love Fridays. Why there is TGIF restaurant but not TGIM.
I think that there is a simple test on How To Tell, If My Life Is Screwed? It’s simple: I love Fridays and weekends more than any other days of the week.
Greetings

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