if you really want to do something…
I really, really, really believe this.
Of course, I know that luck plays a role in some of the most profound aspects of our lives. Nobody can choose where they are born or to which parents. We can’t control our genetic makeup or the trajectory of our childhoods. But most of us — dare I say all of us — reading this post have the power of choice in our toolkits.
I firmly believe that life is part chance and part choice. Choice is the bigger half. Luck is one thing, but most people have the opportunity to make things better if only they would choose to do so.
What I’m trying to say is this: if you want a cat or a bicycle or a blunt-cut fringe or a degree or career in writing, go get ‘em, tiger. If all that stands between you and getting or doing what you really want is a stack of excuses, you just don’t want it bad enough.
New York author Augusten Burroughs (one of his books is sharing a bed with me at the moment) writes: ‘When you really want something to the point of need, you don’t care or even notice the “temptations” that could lead you off course… Wanting something with every cell in your body makes the effort required to achieve what you want incidental, entirely beside the point. Because your focus never wavers from the goal. You aren’t bothered by any distractions because you aren’t looking at them – you are seeing past them to what you want in your future. Unless some part of you is not fully onboard. Unless some part of you wants things to stay exactly as they are.’
That’s the hard bit.
The honesty bit.
Being honest with myself is still a relatively new habit for me, a chafing, biting practice that feels as uncomfortable as a new pair of shoes not worn in properly yet. I’m still getting used to questioning my own thoughts. I try to ask myself ‘Why?’ or ‘Is that actually so?’ when I think radical things such as, ‘I can’t handle this!’ or, ‘I don’t like that person!’ or, ‘I’m too busy!’.
Finding the truth inside the untruth that is deeply ingrained or that exists because of pressure to think or feel a certain way is difficult. I’m not going to hedge around that fact.
But here’s a simple little truth about me. I want to write that e-book, but I want to feel safe and in control more. My inactivity makes me feel safe and in control. So I don’t work on it for months at a stretch. It’s the bigger want that wins out.
Wants do not always form a relationship of binary opposition like this, but often they do. Be honest with yourself. One answer over another is not necessarily better or ‘right’. But honesty is.
You could ask yourself these questions. Do I want the short-term satisfaction of eating/drinking that thing more than I want to maintain a healthy weight? Do I really want to move out or do I want to stay in my comfort zone and save on rent? Do I want to be successful or do I want to cruise along with a minimal workload? Do I want a job that ‘fulfils’ me on some abstract level or do I want a job that pays for my mortgage and annual holiday? Do I want to have a role in my super special sub-specialty or do I want to live in Brisbane? Do I want to solve this problem or would I prefer to cash in on the pity and attention that having the problem affords me? Do I want to achieve this goal or do I want to frolic in the daydream phase for longer?
The answers might surprise you.
In fact, the answers might shock you, disappoint you, or make you very angry. The fabulous Gloria Steinem once said, ‘The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.’
If it pisses you off enough, maybe it will give you the energy to reduce or inflate what you really want into what you need and what you get. If, after an honest stocktake, you discover that what you really want does not align with your principles, you’ve been given a blessed opportunity to shift the furniture deep in your mind and soul.
And remember Zig Ziglar’s take on which want wins out in the end: ‘The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.’
At some point, my desire to write — or to have or do the many things that I delay — will tip over into a need so great that it will outweigh all my reservations and excuses. Until then, I need to be honest about what I really want — and work on shifting the weight from a desire for false security into a desire for no-matter-what action.
(Right now, I want a massage… and some sushi. Weird, right?)
What do you really want?
Categorised as: wisdom+philosophy