Late Night Epiphany
As you wind down in bed late at night, an epiphany hits you: you’re suddenly going to be the person who is a bundle of productivity and efficiency. You are going to accomplish all the aspirations you’ve been putting off and tomorrow will be that turning point you’ll look back at and smile with reminiscent pride. All you can think of is how successful this change is going to be; it feels astronomically motivating. You wake up the next morning early and everything seems to be just as you anticipated: you’ve organized your calendar with your responsibilities, remodeled your workspace, and even made a list of goals and benchmarks for the foreseeable future. And all this translates to a happily-ever-after ending, right? Not quite. For some inexplicable reason everything crumbles after weeks, days, sometimes even by the afternoon. Is the problem us? What happened to all that profound motivation we conjured last night? Am I destined for dissatisfaction?
Ready, Set, Motion?
Fortunately, the answer to all those questions can be resolved sensically. The issue is not some intrinsic quality that holds us back, nor is our current way of life immutable. The problem boils down to a distinction between something I call motion and action. Motion was all those events listed before, the strategizing and imagination our minds have that foresee our success. Motion is merely pondering the idea of what we should be doing, whereas action is the actual process in which we achieve said success. Motion makes it feel like we are making progress without the fear of failure. There is little risk of screwing up a schedule or cleaning a room, so it feels comfortable to stay in that middle ground where you feel you are accomplishing your goals without friction.
That being said, the seemingly common sense solution is to just dive in and do the actions that will lead you to your end result. If only it were that easy. Sure we can muster up the grit to workout a few times, or reject a McDonalds Happy meal for a farmer’s market salad, but doing it over and over seems impossible. These feelings are natural. In today’s society there are countless stimuli that are meant to overwhelm the senses way beyond their normal standard. Food scientists have engineered fast food to be more delicious than our ancestors could imagine, and social media companies have psychologists working around the clock with the sole purpose of making it as hard as possible for you to put your phone down. The simple truth is that the things we wish we could cleanse have been crafted to appeal to our most human cravings.
We crave these heightened versions of our primal desires. It feels so difficult to not get another bag of chips downstairs or to delete Instagram because it feels like we are losing something. However, I recently discovered a new perspective that has another way of thinking about this predicament. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking breaks down how this common craving exists among cigarette smokers trying to quit. In his eyes, you are not losing anything, but making an objectively better decision for yourself. Smoking does nothing for you: it is not a road for social acceptance or stress relief, rather it destroys these things. You do not lose the high, but gain the unimaginably superior experiences of a healthier body and mental state. Even though I’ve never touched a cigarette, I found these insights to be inspiring. Ridding ourselves of our vices is not a net loss, but a gain that will build towards a better you.
Don’t Ponder, Do!
I often feel there’s a large disconnect between what we “know” and how we act. For example, I think it’s universally acknowledged that we could all live better lives if we set a strict time constraint on our phones. As a result, if someone were to tell you that advice, you would agree with them without much of a rebuttal, but what are the chances that you will actually implement the change? Sometimes advice and simply knowing what is the right decision is not enough. If you only have those thoughts, what do you have to show for yourself? It’s only when you repeatedly put what you know into practice that you will begin to prove to yourself, “Hey, I am capable of setting my mind to something and succeeding!” The point being, this article can only impart so much information and motivation for a brief moment. It’s up to you in the long-term to create your own success. While that might sound scary, it also means it will be all the sweeter when it does come. Prove to yourself that you are capable of amazing things, because you often know it.