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The advice, “go big or go home,” has always puzzled me a little bit. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand what the saying implies. 

Sometimes we need to really throw our back into something if we’re going to succeed. 

Sometimes half measures don’t cut it. 

If you feel strongly about something, be prepared to sacrifice and work hard for it. 

All of that, I’m on board with. The “go big” part isn’t what bothers me. 

It’s the “…or go home” part that bugs me. 

It bugs me because, in its entirety, the expression implies that there is never a situation where you might want to be cautious. 

Where you might want to try a situation or a tool out, before fully committing to it. 

It seems to imply that no project is worth doing if you’re not into making it a central focus of your time and energy. That if you’re not prepared to go “all in” on something, you should just stay home. 

I mean, really? 

There are plenty of things in my life that I enjoy, that I find value in, and that enhance my life…but that I’m not into “mastering” or even “going all in” on. 

My buddy and I race go-karts. He’s a lot better at it than I am. I enjoy the hobby, but I don’t particularly enjoy the uber-compeitive aspect of some of the higher speed races— so at a certain point, I bow out. 

Could I become a superstar amateur go-kart racer if I was interested in going “all in” on the hobby? Maybe, maybe not— but that’s not the point. The point is, go-karting is never going to be something I’ll go “all in” on…so does that mean I should just “go home?” 

I don’t think so. 

The truth is, there are LOTS of things that you’re going to enjoy, that you’re going to find value in, and that will enhance your life…but which you’ll have neither the resources nor the inclination to “master” or go “all in” on. 

Does that mean you shouldn’t do those things? 

Come on. 

We’re looking to build lives here that are interesting, that are fun, that have meaning, that have variety. 

There are totally going to be things that you will want to go “all in” on, and things that you totally will be able to “master;” and there will also be things that you’ll want to dabble in, or do as a hobby, or experiment with. 

That’s how we build interesting, meaningful lives in the real world. 

In my experience, far too many people put far too much pressure on themselves when it comes to “mastering” the various experiences in their lives. 

Many people have been raised in environments where they’re told the goal of learning something is to be able to do it perfectly, or to “master” it, or to consistently do it at a high or competitive level…and that if they can’t or don’t want to do that, they shouldn’t even bother. 

What a load of nonsense. 

Do things that interest you. 

Do things that seem fun or that you think you might learn something from. 

Contrary to the rantings of some self-help teachers, “amateur,” “dabbler,” and “beginner” are not insults. 

(I strongly suggest you not follow anyone who treats these labels as if they WERE insults.) 

Some things you’ll be great at, some things you won’t; some things you’ll enjoy even though you’ll never be great at them. 

Time and energy you enjoyed expending is not “wasted.” 

Focus on building a life you like and doing stuff you like— and please, don’t buy into this silliness about “go big or go home.” 

Very few people who live under that kind of constant pressure are happy. 

 

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