10 Things I Will Not Do

A photo I took of Daejeon at night

I hate rules. Rules are inflexible, and often don’t change quickly enough to keep up with the fluid situation we know as life.

In light of that, what you see below is not a list of rules. Rather, it’s a list of things that are so senseless, that to do them would be to undermine the things I’ve set out to accomplish.

Here we go:

1. I will not go into debt

I managed to stow away a bit of cash while teaching English in South Korea. If it dries up, I will find a way to replenish it.

Under no circumstances will I buy anything that I don’t have enough money to pay for immediately. I’ve seen debt limit options and crush dreams  I’d rather stop and “flip burgers” somewhere for a few months to build up funds than fall into a debt trap.

2. I will not fall into a rut

I spent about a year of my life being that guy on Facebook who’s always complaining about his job. I never want to be that guy again. Life is rarely perfect, but if I ever feel like I’ve reached a point where I’m seeing everything through a lens of negativity, I will stop doing what I’m doing, and change things up ASAP.

3. I will not let fear get in the way

We all have fears, big and small. Some of them are conscious fears — say, a fear of heights or spiders — while others may be subconscious. Subconscious fears are harder to recognize, because we often hide them rather than acknowledge their existence. For example, if you’re afraid of trying new things, that fear might manifest itself as procrastination.

Anyway, the point here isn’t to be brave for bravery’s sake — don’t worry, you won’t see me spear hunting tigers in the jungle anytime soon. Rather, it means that if fear is holding me back, I need to confront that fear head on. I don’t always do this consistently, but when I do, good things tend to happen. I will continue to improve in this area.

4. I will not compromise my values

I want to live in a way that falls in line with my personal values, and that extends to any relationships or professional ventures I undertake as well. When I interact with people, I want it to be because I enjoy their company, not because I’m trying to get something. Likewise, if I offer anything for sale on this site, it will be because I fully believe in the product, not because I’m trying to make a quick buck.

5. I will not forget my friends and family

Life is empty without amazing people. I won’t let myself lose sight of that. I haven’t always been great about keeping in touch —  this blog will help me focus my social energy and alleviate that shortcoming.

6. I will not stop asking questions

Questions about life. Questions about society. Questions about the universe. I’m sure I’ll even ask myself questions about why I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s important that I never stop asking questions, never stop looking for answers, and never stop listening to the viewpoints of people from all different walks of life. While I’ll never find answers to all of the questions I ask, I won’t let that stop me from trying.

7. I will not neglect the work

It’s easy to say, “I’ll do this, this, this, and this,” but plans are meaningless without follow through. Talking big demands that I follow up with action, both large and small. I’m not just going to wake up one day five years from now and be fluent in Mandarin Chinese — I need to show up and put in effort each day to make sure I get there.

8. I will not be afraid to ask for help

People like to help other people. No, they don’t like to help people all day every day, nor do they enjoy being forced to help other people. But generally, if you ask for help nicely, you’re likely to get a little help. And if you don’t, what have you lost besides a few seconds of your time?

I have an unfortunate tendency to try to take on every challenge by myself. Yet if I’m going to have any success in this journey, I’ll need to ask for help like I never have before.

9. I will not make this all about me

This means thanking the people who help me. It means spending time tending to this blog, so that others can see what I’m up to and perhaps glean a thing or two from my journey. And most importantly, it means staying humble.

Confidence is good. Arrogance? Not so much.

10. I will not quit until I’m done

One of my greatest fears is that when I’m older I will look back and say, “I could’ve done this,” or “I thought about doing that, but never did.” Life is short, and we all have many dreams that go unrealized — an inescapable fact. However, I believe the solution lies not in trying to accomplish all of those dreams, but rather in choosing just a few, and dedicating ourselves to them with unabashed zeal.

Because ultimately, that’s what it takes to step beyond the ordinary, and achieve the extraordinary.

That’s a wrap. If you think I forgot anything, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or via Twitter. (Bonus points if you hit me up with a #liveawesome hashtag!)

Photo taken by yours truly, in Daejeon, South Korea.

Henry Olsen

Writer, adventurer, and humble servant of the universe since 1986.