I’ll never find a job I love until I get an advanced degree.”

“There’s no way I could afford that new car unless I got a raise.”

“I’ll never have the financial freedom to travel until my kids are out of the house.”

In my family, we call this blueprinting: drawing a vision in our minds of one particular way a thing could happen, then insisting that if it’s going to happen at all, it must happen in the exact way we’ve outlined.

“There’s no way I can have / do / be ______ until ______ happens.”

Sound familiar?

The truth is, friends, these thoughts are traps: All the arbitrary rules we will our lives to follow. All the implied cause and effect we inject into our present and future circumstances. All the subconscious backroom deals we make, relinquishing our freedom in exchange for the perception of order. These limiting thoughts may feel safe at first. Comfortable. Secure. But as John Shedd so famously wrote: “Ships in harbor are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”

To live a life of true freedom requires us to open ourselves to life’s mystery. To push beyond the boundaries of our self-imposed prisons. To scrap the blueprints and flawed “logic,” no matter how safe they may feel. To acknowledge that our human experience sometimes raises more questions than answers. To accept that the world around us will always be, to some degree, unknowable. Our world is a revolving, evolving reality, after all. A small piece of a universe constantly hurling itself forward in a state of perpetual expansion, for reasons I can only assume have nothing to do with “common sense.”

So where does this leave us? I believe, with a choice: to allow fear to draft our parameters, or to flat out refuse to be contained. To close out of self-preservation, or to work twice as hard to remain open to the mystery. To build black and white walls that feel safe but offer no real protection, or to lean into the shades of gray.

Because whatever your “thing” is, I guarantee you it’s still on the table. That it’s not only possible, but available to you, not in some distant future, but right now. That it’s not only here for the taking, but always has been. Waiting, patiently, for you to stop fussing with the blueprints. Maybe then you’ll realize all you’ve ever needed to do is pull up a chair.