Your experience is valuable. Reaching your potential so you can effectively work toward having the experiences you find most enjoyable is a powerful goal. It’s a goal that incorporates two connected prongs of the value of experience.
What are the two prongs?
Reaching your potential—discovering, developing, and applying your unique art form—is one of the most fun, fulfilling ways to spend your time. Reaching your potential also means doing what it takes to earn the experiences you find most enjoyable.
In other words: Making the best use of your life enables you to most enjoy your life.
Your limitations and addictions hold you back from the fun of reaching your potential. The fun of reaching your potential, as well as the fun of the experiences you most enjoy, can motivate you to overcome and control your limitations and addictions.
My revolving description of the two prongs might seem overly repetitive, but sometimes even the simplest of concepts must be laid out in all directions before what’s already obvious can really touch your experience. That’s when what you know drops like a coin into a machine to produce an “aha” moment—when knowledge becomes wisdom.
Coming to understand the value of experience is essentially the culmination of everything we’ve been talking about so far.
You now have your motivation and your map. You know exactly what to do and why you want to.
Understanding the value of experience is what enables you to manage yourself.
So far, we’ve seen what self-management isn’t: Self-management isn’t relying on plans to change. Instead, it’s having the ability to make choices that align with your values rather than your compulsions.
Self-management is being able to tell yourself in any given moment what to do and not do.
Learning to face addictions and overcome limitations always comes back to a process of maturity.
You need perspective to see how your choices are either holding you back or helping you live up to your potential.
I wrote this in 2014 (while high):
“Can tomorrow be about tomorrow?
“Can I give myself just that one day?
“If I can see what I want enough, am I able to make right choices?
“A thing can’t pick itself up. It can’t use itself to flash itself more into being. It needs to connect to something else to draw from.
“What you connect to and draw from are the good things (values) you want—those aspects of the person you want to be that call you forward from the other side of where you see yourself right now.
“But isn’t that exactly what happens whenever you make choices anyway—something ends up compelling you more than something else?
“Self-management happens when the appeal of what you truly want in life exceeds the pull of your addictions and compulsions.
“But there’s more:
“When you see yourself making choices that align with your values, you feel good about yourself. The feeling might be similar to reacting to your wounded conscience by snapping together (or buying) some new plan for how to change; but the benefit you get from self-management is actually real. You’re actually doing what you believe you should (instead of just hiding behind some prescription for how).
“To put it simply: Self-management is exhilarating. You’re watching yourself live in such a way as to maximize your own experience—to reach your potential, and to earn the experiences you most enjoy.”
While the two prongs of the value of experience are what empower self-management, the thrill of self-management is itself a third prong.
The value of experience is the value of knowing you’re actually living (right now) as the person you truly want to be.
The first two prongs call you onward from the future. The third assures you in the present that you’re making the most of your life (and time).
I wrote this the next day (while high again):
“When you’re addicted to something, whatever it is automatically stops being as fun it could be.
“Why would you keep doing something that’s no longer fun?
“The reason is immaturity—you simply can’t yet fully see the distance between your current experience and the experience you want.
“Though you feel guilty about your choices, you don’t yet have enough perspective to make better ones.”
I see more and more as I prepare to share my experience that using weed addictively makes getting high a lot less fun than it could be.
I wrote this a few days later (again, high):
“The good news is that managing yourself starts easy—it begins and gains momentum from what you’re already doing: hearing, learning, being open, and preparing to share your experience…
“Those passive activities are what ultimately change your perspective enough to leave you with no choice but to act differently.
“Unlike with plans, the process of self-management is never fixed. You can always be finding new and better ways to manage yourself more efficiently.
“As you continue to share, hear, learn, and watch yourself progress, you develop a natural eye for the best ways to take each next step.”
Several days later, I got high again and wrote:
“I just smoked some weed after having not had any for a few days, and the experience feels awesome. There’s a distinct freshness to it. It reminds me of how I used to feel when I’d get high years ago.
“All I know is my conviction to keep going like this.
“Nothing counts or doesn’t count. This story isn’t about right or wrong.
“This experience, right now, is great. I just want to keep going.”
I next got high about a week later, and wrote:
“Life is really happening.
“I only used a gram this month. That wasn’t planned; I didn’t set a limit on myself or anything. I simply found myself not wanting to get high as much.
“When you plan, you forget that life is really happening right now.
“Planning takes you out of the present moment, using past information to make easy predictions about how you think the future should be. Planning becomes a substitute for actually doing what you already know you should.”
The pieces of this story are just my own honest stabs at capturing my real experience to share. It’s been a long process of self-discovery, which has already led to progress I’d long given up on ever making.
Don’t ever give up on yourself. Go public and face your addictions. See yourself and grow.
You never need to force growth—not when making better choices is really so much fun.
Tomorrow: more on how better choices are more fun.