I was caught in an epic downpour yesterday, hence the title, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
During my sabbatical this past year, in addition to writing novels and story treatments, I dedicated a significant chunk of time researching success – its causes and obstacles (the Fundamental: Success project). This started with curiosity about why many of my clients notionally accept the idea of formal, proven process, and then immediately go about dismantling the process in favor of familiar routine.
Long story short, what I discovered in my research was “people don’t like new things”. This is a gross simplification, but it is also accurate. People don’t have trouble with weight loss because they want to be fat, it’s because they don’t want to change what got them there. It’s one of the reasons we humans seek “the” answer, a one-shot paradigm shift that requires little of us, but promises to materially change us permanently. Why bother to dig deeply into the thorny muck that is our subconscious when you can just get a lap-band or order some Zumba discs?
If you experience no anxiety, fear or emotional stress then you’ve basically won – and needn’t bother with what I’m about to write. For everyone else, when it comes to the most mind-bending existential questions of life, we need to get comfortable with this central paradox: answers are simple, solutions can be complex. You overweight? Lose weight. You don’t like your relationships? Get relationships you like. You hate yourself? Love yourself. You overwhelmed with worry? Stop worrying. You a loser? Become successful. You an alcoholic? Stop drinking alcohol.
On the surface, this Q & A may seem a silly exercise, but under it is a powerful truth: the search for answers is often a tactic to avoid dealing with the hard reality of solutions. Solutions tend to be challenging, difficult, trial-and-error affairs that require a lot of personal change, faith, effort and don’t guarantee results. They just offer the possibility of results – and that’s awesome. If you constantly live with the belief that you can change your situation (if you decide to do so), then conversely you don’t live in a state of despair, hopelessness and fear.
So, what does this have to do with me being drenched in a biblical downpour? It’s a sad little tale of knowing what to do, and not doing it. I “know” that having daily goals, effective time management and focusing my emotional energy on things I control 100% leads to strong decision making and a fulfilling sense of well being. I’m currently waiting on a phone call that will either leave me with a perfect employment situation, or alert me that nothing has changed in my status quo. I allowed this to become the sole focus of my waking consciousness. I got so into THINKING about it, that I wasn’t DOING anything – and each time I looked at a clock (in-between aimless internet browsing) it seemed that elves had stolen hours. I’d been listening to the weather services predict some form of storm-based Armageddon all day and had procrastinated mercilessly based on this flimsy data. All during this time, I was aware that I needed to buy some milk, but kept doing nothing. When my desire for milk overwhelmed my inertia (as opposed to me making an actual decision), I shuffled zombie-like off to the store. The precise moment I stepped out of the 7-11, the heavens opened for the first time that day, and relentlessly pounded me for the seven-ish minutes it took to walk home. As I entered my front door, my feet sloshing inside of my flooded shoes, the rain stopped in a mocking fashion. By the end of the day, it rained no more, and I had received no phone calls.
So, is there a moral to this story? Something like “if you procrastinate the universe will rain on you”. Nah, it’s more to say that had I been aggressively pursuing my goals (writing awesome fiction, vigorously exercising, expanding my personal boundaries, drawing some nutty flight of fancy) I probably wouldn’t have noticed getting rained on. As it is, it was the most notable thing that happened, and that’s just silly.
Just writing this as a reminder (to me and you) to live like it matters, create your own meaning for your life, have a vision for what you want from each day and take action to make it come true!