If what you’re doing is working for you, then you should be massively successful and fulfilled.
You should be ticking off goals, eliminating problems, and closing in on the life you want.
If not, what you’re doing simply isn’t working.
If you want to improve your results, you need to change your actions.
Why then are most people not making any progress in life and yet they don’t change their approach? Why don’t we learn and improve when we want to and we have the ability to do so?
One big reason is that most of us share a common delusion. It goes something like this:
“Work and life are unusually busy right now, so I just need to buckle down and work harder to complete these unique and important tasks. In two to four months, things will settle down and I’ll have more time. I’ll catch up on rest, have more energy, get organized, start eating better, exercise more, improve my relationship, and maybe even write that book. And life won’t be crazy anymore.”
We repeat that belief over and over, but we never get to the less busy time.
We’re waiting for our environment to change instead of driving the change we want. It’s a poor strategy, but we all do it at times and most of us do it all the time.
This delusion we keep recycling tells us there is a less busy, more stable and predictable future just over the horizon with fewer surprises and problems. Things will be simpler and everything will be easier. We’re essentially counting on the world being fundamentally different than it is right now.
This belief almost ensures that your life will not improve. It drives a subconscious narrative that works against our own interests without us noticing. It goes something like this:
“And since I’ll have more time and energy in the near future, the changes I want to make will soon be easier. So, I shouldn’t make them now.
And with more time and energy coming, I’ll soon be able to do everything I want. So, there’s no need to cut my losses on things that aren’t working or eliminate the things that are crowding my priorities.
And with more time just over the horizon, I’ll have time to rest, recuperate, and do the simple things that make me happy. So I don’t need to do them now.”
This unrecognized belief affects how many negative things you will tolerate in your life and how many good things you will postpone. We all do this at times. It essentially guarantees we’ll miss out on our greatest potential, happiness, and contribution to the world.
If we keep living in that state of delusion, where does it get us?
The expectation of a more orderly, predictable, easier future allows us to oddly accept violating our own standards and values on the grounds that,
“This is not my normal behavior of high standards for myself and life. It’s just a temporary acquiescence for rare and special circumstances.”
No one would choose to sell out and live against their own interest for their entire life. Yet, even the most well-intentioned among us unwittingly do this very thing.
This condition keeps repeating for a lifetime, as long as it is broken into 2-to-4-month periods.
The truth is that things aren’t going to magically change. Things change when you change. And you change when someone new comes into your life, your environment changes, or you take committing action.
Often, positive change requires a moment of clarity. These moments don’t last and slip away without us noticing, just as we fall asleep. They provide a window for committing action that will improve your life.
Overdue action will always be uncomfortable and imperfect. The timing won’t be right. And there will be no external reason we have to do it at that moment. But there is power in realizing the action happens now or not at all. It is the realization that taking imperfect action at the imperfect time is usually the only way to make significant improvements.
Pay attention to your moments of clarity. They are where you turn a default future into the future you choose.
WHAT DOES NOT WORK
Deciding to “try harder,” “be more aware,” or “get serious” doesn’t work. Relying on these is like saying, “When I notice myself falling asleep, I’ll just wake myself back up.” Awareness and good intentions drift away without us noticing and we only realize that this happened in hindsight, often weeks or months later.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Be open to the possibility that you’re selling yourself short.
The future isn’t going to be less busy. You’re not magically going to find more time and energy. There is not going to be some more perfect time, just over the horizon.
Paradoxically, by not expecting to find more energy and time, we act more wisely and have more than we otherwise would.
What’s the committing action you know you need to take? What’s stopping you?