By Roland Watson

I want to expand on some of the ideas that I mentioned earlier, including the problem of the fear of the unknown. I also intend to discuss a number of basic goals that you might want to build into the plan for your life.

The problem of limits

I'll begin by refocusing on the importance of experience, by pointing out that the converse of experience is limitations. What I mean by this is that you should refuse to limit yourself, to limit what you can experience.

One way to look at this is to understand that almost everyone does this, and the way that they do it is by building walls to protect themselves. People construct small, safe environments in which they can be comfortable and happy, and keep the rest of the world at bay.

This applies to all types of people, even the most wealthy and powerful. From movie and music moguls, to the fashion community, to bankers and lawyers, to top corporate executives and the super rich, they all do it. They have their own little worlds, with their houses and clubs, and they feel pretty good about themselves because they can exclude the rest of us. But, they are actually no different. Like everyone else, they are afraid of the world. Rather than reach out and grab it for all that it is worth, they construct these barriers, they bring life down to their size.

To get the most out of life, you must fight your tendency to do this. You must confront your fear of the unknown, and overcome it. Perhaps a less intimidating way to think of this is as the fear of doing new things. That doesn't sound so bad.

And, you must keep your options open. If you can't do something now, you should do it next year, or in ten. And really do it. Don't forget about it, or position yourself such that it becomes impossible. Keep the option open!

Basic goals

To return to purpose, to finding a purpose in and for your life, simply trying to learn and experience as much as you can is one such purpose, but there is more to it than that. More broadly, your purpose should be to achieve real accomplishments. Collecting the most toys, or even the most passport stamps, is not such an accomplishment. Neither is having a great job, or career. Your purpose is not to have a career. It is to have a life!

It is also important to note that there is more to maturity than the consolidation of your identity. Maturity further requires that you establish discipline over your will, to achieve self-control. And, in a negative sense, meaning that which you want to avoid, maturity is associated with the inflexibility and intolerance that often come with age.

What you should do is establish a basic set of goals for your life. Among the more noble goals that you might want to have are the following:

- To be a moral individual: not to add to the world's problems.
- To help - to make a real contribution to - other people and species.
- To find the love of your life.
- To have, or care for, children, and to be a good parent.
- To attain spiritual peace.

Become a master

You should also strive to become a master of some complex skill or area of knowledge, particularly a form of creative expression.

However, and as an aside, perhaps you believe that I am being demanding, that I am asking too much. Remember, you have your entire life - 60, 80, even 100 years - to do these things! That's a lot of time!

As your exposure to life grows, you should find yourself strongly attracted to certain things, and you should pick one of them and then, over a period of years, work diligently to become an expert at it. By doing this, you will benefit not only from your increasing knowledge and skill, but more generally from the maturing process that accompanies such a deep quest.

Also, this new ability will become a core foundation of your identity. Over your lifetime, you should try to master a number of different things, to build as many of these foundations as you can, to become an accomplished, multi-faceted individual.

Dealing with death

Indeed, at the deepest level, your purpose is simple. You want to be all that you can be; to get everything out of life that you can; and to give as much as you can as well.

And, throughout this entire process you want to develop your own philosophy of life, and original personal style, which you use to express yourself and enjoy yourself, and which you also use to deal with the difficulties of life - your life - including your death.

As to your death, and in summary, you should try to live such that you have the philosophy of no regrets. What this means is that if at some point, or rather when, your death becomes imminent, if you have a moment to think about it, to reflect, you want your last thought to be: No Regrets!

You lived life to the fullest that was possible for you. You honestly tried to do everything of which you were capable, to push your boundaries as far as possible. You were courageous, and ethical, and although you might have suffered a lot of hard knocks, you also had many, many moments of bliss and exaltation.

Actually, to be precise, you should try to have as your very last thought, the feeling of love, for someone else, or for life itself. This is the best way to go out, to cap or crown your own life experience.

If you can do this, if you can have these - the idea of no regrets, and the feeling of love - as your last thoughts, this is very significant, and positive. It means you have overcome your fear of death, which is the greatest fear - the greatest unknown - that we face. It means you have made peace with your own end, with your own demise.

Closing suggestions

To complete this article, I have a few additional suggestions on personal change and purpose. To start, and to expand on an earlier point, try not to let yourself get trapped in a rigid environment, either at work or at home. Preserve your flexibility, both physical and mental, but particularly your mental flexibility, to maintain your freedom to leave.

Next, be alert to the pace of your life. Ask yourself the question: Are you living at a pace that is enjoyable, and through which you regularly achieve your goals; or, are you overly stressed, miserable, and taking on too much to accomplish anything?

For personal development, you should work on your weaknesses, whatever they might be. Don't worry about the things at which you are already good. Focus on what you can't do well, or at all.

Also, recognize that when you try a lot of different things, you are obviously going to fail at some of them. Personal failure is to be expected. It should not be feared. It is an absolutely guaranteed part of your, and everybody else's, life.

Lastly, live for ecstatic experiences, the one-off moments that fire up your adrenaline and after which you exclaim, fist pumping in the air, Wow! Did you see that! That was unbelievable!

These are the moments most worth living for; the moments that focus your concentration completely, that unify your mind and body and take your self-consciousness to a new level. These are the moments when instantaneous growth occurs, the moments when you are most alive.

You should try to construct a style of life where you have as many of these experiences as possible, with little downtime in between. This in turn requires an aggressive approach to existence, where you are open and ready to try a lot of different things, particularly things that involve danger.

In the next series of talks, I am going to examine how things change much more closely.

© Roland Watson 2013