Jump Shipp or Just Do Something

I was exploring HalogenTV.com a few weeks ago when I came across a new show called Jump Shipp. The creator, Josh Shipp, believes that there’s a time in every person’s life when he or she must choose to jump ship in order to avoid the stagnant waters of life. Whether it’s a dead-end career or an unhealthy relationship, Josh coaxes his subjects out of fear and urges them to embrace their dreams.

Here’s what Josh has to say:

If you didn’t get a chance to see the pilot, “Jump Shipp” teaches you when to quit. (What!?!) Yes, I want to teach you how and when to quit the right things at the right times. Too often we find ourselves in bad jobs, bad relationships or simply right in the middle of a “bad life,” but not like late 90’s version of “bad” which meant good, but like 80’s version which actually means “bad.” Often times we’re too chicken to figure out another way to survive so we continue struggling forward which typically ends in a mid-life crisis.

I love the concept of this show. I think there are many people in this world that would benefit from jumping ship. But before I go any further, I should also mention that I wouldn’t recommend jumping ship to anyone with a long-term commitment, say like a mortgage, a spouse, or children. Not without careful consideration and a fallback plan, at least. But for me and others in my boat, why not jump ship? Why not chase the dream?

The answer, I believe, is fear.

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear and how it can become a detriment to our future. There are two scenarios, in particular, that I believe we fall prey to. On one side, there’s the person in Jump Shipp who’s too scared to move on because of the fear of failure. If it’s a relationship, maybe they believe this is ‘as good as it gets.’ If it’s a job, maybe they don’t want to risk their security for something that might not work out. Maybe they’re simply comfortable with their surroundings and would rather dwell in a place of familiarity. But for the person who never tries anything new, I have to wonder if they know that in keeping with the status-quo they could be missing out on something potentially life-altering.

I think Don Miller describes this fear perfectly in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: “Perhaps one of the reasons I’ve avoided having a clear ambition is because the second you stand up and point toward a horizon, you realize how much there is to lose. It’s always been this way” (Miller 107).

But then there’s scenario number two: the person who never really moves. She might be unemployed, or maybe she’s notorious for floating from one job to the next. She doesn’t go looking for a dream, but rather waits for it to come. She just doesn’t know what to do! So she toils, she cries, she prays, she asks for a dream, vision, or random bible verse that will finally point toward life’s ultimate fulfillment.

And that’s precisely the problem. We want perfect fulfillment.

A year and a half ago I read a book called Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. The premise of the book is to STOP living in fear that you’re going to make the wrong decision about your life’s direction (which hinges upon your life’s fulfillment) and just DO something. It’s the only way to set out on the path to achieving your goals, and for some, creating your goals. After all, if you don’t pick up a pen you’re never going to write a story. If you don’t lace up your running shoes you can’t run a marathon. But because we fear that we won’t be completely satisfied if we choose this way instead of that way, we neglect to grace the paper with a stroke of the pen or run the first of many miles to train for a marathon.

Here’s what Kevin has to say about this matter:

When every experience and situation must be rewarding and put us on the road to complete fulfillment, then suddenly the decisions about where we live, what house we buy, what dorm we’re in, and whether we go with tile or laminate take on weighty significance. There is just too much riding on every decision. I’m pretty sure more of us would be more fulfilled if we didn’t fixate on fulfillment quite so much (DeYoung 32).

When I first started to read this book I got the impression that DeYoung was saying, “Forget your dreams! Just do something, anything! Join the circus or become a janitor! Just make yourself useful!” But I don’t think he’s saying that at all. I think he’s telling us to stop living in fear that after you accept the job as a medical secretary you’ll wonder, “Maybe this isn’t my ultimate destiny!” Stop believing that every job/person/food item in your life will set you on the road to happiness.  If you want to be a writer, start to write. If you want to be an engineer, go to school. Do something.

Though I’ve been fortunate enough to fulfill many of my dreams (living abroad, being a published writer and magazine editor, touring as a public speaker) I still fall prey to the misguided notion of “ultimate fulfillment” virtually at every crossroads of my life. The truth? I’ve never felt perfect fulfillment living out my dreams. But what have I experienced? A joy in knowing I’m where I’m supposed to be combined with a lot of hard work. Hard work that (hopefully) has molded my character in positive ways and transformed me into someone who believes that life is worth the risk.

So let’s stop fearing. And let’s start risking. And let’s stand up and point toward a horizon, even though it might look far away.

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