March 4, 2013

Will It Always Be Like This?

Will It Always Be Like This?

The problem is that you want a new life, or at least some kind of substantive change.

You look at what you have, what you do, or who you are, and you long for something else.

It may be a problem of the fortunate, in the sense that you don’t have to worry about what you’ll eat tomorrow, but nevertheless, it’s a problem.

So that’s where you’re at. What do you do?

First Step

If you’re like many of us, you deal with this problem by complaining. You place the blame for your failure to change on circumstances or the decisions of other people.

You begrudge those who have figured it out, and you look with envy upon the changes they’ve made.

At some point, hopefully you realize that this is not the best solution. Regardless of how you got in this predicament, it’s up to you to get out.

Second Step

So next you think, OK, I’ll set an intention. I’ll tell the universe, hey, I’m ready to change it up. I’ve evaluated the alternatives and made my decision. I don’t want to live like this anymore. I’m ready for something new!

That’s fine and well. But then?

You sit there and nothing changes, despite your best intentions. (See: good intentions and the road to hell.)

Finally you realize you can’t just sit there. It’s good to stop whining, and it’s good to set an intention, but at a certain point you have to cross the chasm of indecisiveness.

Third Step

Now you come to the real sticking point.

You may think this impasse is unsustainable, but do not underestimate your ability to procrastinate. This ability has been forged over time with much deferral-of-decision and many wasted afternoons. When it comes to ignoring a problem, you are the mensch of looking the other way. You hold a doctorate in procrastination, even though you never got around to writing the dissertation.

No, the situation won’t change on its own. In fact, the status quo could go on for years, perhaps even a whole life. (See: endless cycle of wanting more.)

So if you find yourself in this predicament and you truly want to change, the only real solution is to break the cycle. The only way out is to address the problem at its point of entry, not just focusing on the symptoms.

If you’re walking in the wrong direction, you can’t just course correct. You can’t veer to the right a little bit. You have to hit the brakes, make a u-turn in the middle of traffic, and drive off the other way.

Will it always be like this? Maybe yes, maybe no.

It’s hard. That’s why taking direct action is the most important step.


*SXSW attendees and Austin, TX residents: I’ll be speaking this Sunday, 2pm at Book People. Come out and say hi! A limited number of free tickets are available.

Image: Metrix