8 People Discuss What It Means To Pass The ‘Point Of No Return’ In Life

Twenty20 / Ben Blenner
Twenty20 / Ben Blenner

Are you sure this is what you really want to do?

If so, why?

There is a pivotal moment all people must experience (multiple times) before they are ready to truly achieve their dreams.

The point of no return.

Have you crossed this point yet?

Is this your path in life? Or are you just testing the waters?

I’ve asked countless people about their “point of no return” experiences. In fact, my PhD research is completely focused on this defining moment. In my research, I compare people who are already entrepreneurs with people who one day want to be.

You’d be surprised how big a difference there are among these two populations.

The people who are already entrepreneurs—almost always—have passed the point of no return. Conversely, the wantrepreneurs—almost always—have not had this experience.

Makes sense, right?

If the would-be-entrepreneurs had had this experience, they’d probably be entrepreneurs—rather than just wanting to be.

So what is the point of no return? How can we define it?

The Defining Moment

Here are what some people I’ve interviewed (names not included for confidentiality) say about that pivotal and essential moment:

“My whole entrepreneurial career over the last seventeen, eighteen years has been a journey and I’ve gone through ‘the point of no return’ several times at different stages. Most recently for this current business that I’m in, it was my brother killing himself earlier this year. It was like I realized how important what I’m doing is. How needed it is and I realized that I just don’t have a choice. I have some skills and some knowledge and some things that I can pass on to parents and young people that can prevent that from ever happening to someone else or another family and for me there’s just no going back. I have to dedicate the rest of my life to that.”

Another person’s moment looked like this:

“This all came through a crisis back in August when I was like, “I can’t cope. I just can’t cope. I need to do something. Writing is something that I can do.” I was scared to take it on because it meant changing everything. It meant going on to LinkedIn and changing my profile. Changing entirely what I do. The references I had would no longer be relevant any more. It was big scary stuff. I decided to go ahead with changing my LinkedIn profile. After that I started learning more about the world of freelance writing. I started doing it. Once I got to a certain point, I was like, “I’m set, this is my path.”

Every person’s moment looks different. These moments can be brought on by the death of a loved one. By failure. By success. By being incredibly sick of your corporate job. However, the moment that surrounds the experience is far less important than the experience itself.

Is It An Internal Thing Or External?

When I asked if the “Point of no return” is an internal or external experience, this is what people said:

“You know I’m tempted to say external but it’s really not. For me everything is an internal experience even if it’s triggered externally. So something may have happened in my life that was significant and emotional, but it was internally I made a decision. I had an internal experience of myself and my life in the world and I made a decision from that point and so it’s definitely internal.”

Another person said:

“I think whether you get stuck or whether you find your path it’s totally internal. External only matters a little bit.”

And another:

“It’s all psychological. Life is a psychological game. Okay, for example, how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? It takes one, but the light bulb has to want to change. You can put a person on a diet and they will never lose weight unless they want to lose weight. You can feed them whatever you want they are going to cheat, they are going to do whatever they do, they’re going to slack off on exercise, unless you want it. You are never going to achieve it. I think the biggest point is either go big or go home, either shoot for the stars and aim for Pluto but if you hit the moon, you’re still doing a hell of a lot better than most people. I think people don’t aim high enough.”

Far and wide, almost every person who had experienced their own personal point of no return said it was an internal thing. Yes, it can be triggered by external factors like crisis or a lack of finances. But fundamentally, it’s a pivotal moment when a person changes how they see themselves and the world. For those seeking to achieve their dreams, it is a self-induced turning point that one never turns back from.

How Is A Person Different After This Moment?

As fascinating as this moment is, it’s even cooler to understand what happens to a person after they’ve had this experience.

Here’s what some people said:

“Okay so I had the ability to get very focused. Not get distracted. And really I was happier because I was in charge of my own destiny versus, you know, let’s say 400 people that got laid off. That cannot happen to me.”

Another said:

“There was no more of the sense that I wasn’t a writer. Before this point of no return I would be like, ‘I’m an aspiring writer. I’m a freelancer want to be. I’m learning, I’m a beginner.’ Stuff like that. Once I reached the point of no return, I was like, ‘You know what I’m a writer. I am a freelancer because that is what I am doing; and because that’s what I’m doing, that what I am.’ There is no more of this, ‘Oh I am a beginner, be gentle to me because I am a little beginner and you shouldn’t be harsh.’ Now I’m like, ‘Just give me the criticism. I need to grow and learn. I am writing, this is something I’m going to do.’”

Another said:

“Yeah I would say my way of being about my business transformed when I passed that point of no return. I got more clarity. I got more passion. I should say I started operating with more clarity, more passion, more momentum, more dedication, determination, discipline. You know like all of the sudden I’m less scattered and much more focused. I’ve made a lot more progress since that’s happened. Because I think once somebody makes a decision, I think that’s really what you’re talking about like when you say point of no return, it’s like a decision—to cut off any other possible option and commit yourself a hundred percent in the future. Once you’ve crossed that threshold you’re never the same again in life. It’s like they say, ‘Providence moves too.’ It’s like everything suddenly in the universe just lines up with everything that you need all of a sudden. Kind of like Neo in the Matrix. All of a sudden you can see the bullets coming at you and move out of their way and stuff like that.”

The most frequent responses to my question, “What changed for you after you had this experience” were:

  • Increased confidence
  • Increased feelings of control over your own life and destiny
  • Increased focus
  • Increased commitment
  • No longer being able to justify wasting time on pointless stuff anymore
  • Excitement
  • Increased determination
  • Increased faith and belief that things will work out no matter what

Are You Committed?

Until you decide what you want to do, you’ll continue wasting absurd amounts of time. You’ll lack direction and motivation. Thus, you’ll never gain momentum and always continue as a novice in everything you do. You’ll also fail to experience the luck that strikes up those with purpose. Mostly saidly, your life will lack the meaning and depth you hunger for as a human being.

As William Hutchison Murray famously said:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

You need to find your path. That is perhaps the most important thing you can do in your life. Until you do, you’ll always be floating. Until you do, you’ll never be able to make the impact you were meant to have in your life.

Your life has a purpose. You have unique talents and abilities—your own superpower. Once you figure out what that is, you will become unstoppable. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I’m the author of How to Consciously Design Your Ideal Future, a book about radically adjusting your perspective of yourself and life.

Keep up with Benjamin on Twitter and benjaminhardy.com

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