By Leo Babauta
I can’t tell you how many people want to make a big positive change in their lives, but are afraid to make the leap. They don’t want the discomfort, don’t want to leave what they’re comfortable with.
From losing weight or getting healthy to quitting a job you hate to learning something hard, most people would rather stick to what they know.
I’m here to make a rather drastic but effective suggestion: burn down the farm.
Let me tell you a story about a farmboy, in a distant galaxy: Luke Skywalker grew up on his aunt and uncle’s farm, but wanted to make a big change (go to the Imperial Academy) but his uncle doesn’t want him to go.
Later Luke makes a startling discovery, and is invited by a Jedi master to leave his planet and help the rebel alliance. (Bear with me, I’m almost at my point.) But Luke is reluctant to leave.
Luke goes on to adventures in strange worlds, and becomes a changed person in the course of these events. The change he dreamed of is far surpassed.
But his fear of discomfort, his fear of changing his ways and leaving behind what he’s comfortable with, almost stopped him.
How did he overcome this fear?
He returned home to find the farm burned down, and his aunt and uncle dead. That was horrible and painful, of course, but at this point, Luke had nothing comfortable to return to. He went on his adventure, in strange worlds.
I’m not encouraging you to literally burn anything down. Nor to slay anyone, of course. That probably shouldn’t have to be clarified, but for the literal-minded, I have to say it.
What I’m encouraging you to do is leave behind the comfortable. Find a way to make it harder to go back to what you’re used to than to go forward into strange, exciting, but uncomfortable new territory.
I quit my day job not long after I discovered that Zen Habits was my calling.
I moved my family from the comfort of our hometown (Guam) to San Francisco, which was hard for all of us, but ultimately led to growth.
We gave up our car and now walk and use mass transit. I tossed out all the junk food from our home when I wanted to eat healthier.
I’ve made public announcements about running a marathon, becoming vegan, unschooling our kids and more.
Those are just a few examples — the possibilities are as numerous as the stars of a distant galaxy.
Burn down the farm, nonviolently of course. Get rid of the possibility of comfort, so that the scary journey you want to take is your best choice.