Tuesday, May 26, 2009

what to do when you really want it

I was at a show this weekend hosted by my dear friend John, and he was telling a story about his first few weeks in New York City. While living in a room at the YMCA as a fresh, young twenty-something, he encountered things I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. But he wanted to live in New York so badly, he had to find a way around it.

"Sometimes," he said, "you have to take your fear and put it on your head like a sherpa, and just keep slogging up the mountain towards your desire."

Since there's no way I could improve on that, I figured I'd share with you three things you can do to help you put your fear on your head:

1. Define what you really want.
It's one thing to say, "I want to be happy." It's another to say, "I want to earn enough money this year so that I can afford a bigger apartment, which will help make me happy." Similarly, "I want a boyfriend" becomes "I want to meet a man who is smart, self-aware, and funny, and who loves me in equal measure."

"I want to feel the strength that comes with being more artistic."
"I want to love my body and feel good about the way I look."
"I want to believe that I'm good enough, and feel solid in my faith in myself."

If the picture of your desire is clear and specific, it will be easier to make the changes, compromises, and sacrifices it will take to slog up the mountain.

So ask yourself: what do you really, really want?

2. Imagine yourself having it already.
What will it look like and feel like to have that bigger apartment or that boyfriend? How will you be different in that situation than you are now? What does that Future You have that Current You is missing? When you can see where you want to go, and believe that you really will get there, your actions are no longer shots in the dark, they're steps towards Future You. The effort you make goes towards a realizable goal; it's not just a series of random things you're doing in hopes that they'll pan out in some-way-someday.

When you allow yourself to believe that you CAN make the changes you want to make, then starting to make them becomes that much easier.

3. Take a small step every single day.
Decide that what you want is really important to you, and commit to making an effort towards reaching it every single day. There's no time like the present! Take up journaling, and write out your thoughts about the important issues you raise in making change. Be prepared to be uncomfortable and to rock the boat. (Change is not for the faint of heart.)

You've already decided that what you want is worth it, so when you're tempted to sink into the couch and watch another TV show, or when you're headed to the kitchen to mindlessly shovel food into your mouth, or when your credit card is whipped out and ready to make another numbing purchase, decide that right now is the moment you're going to change. Why spend another day waiting when Future You is out there beckoning you to live the life you really, really want?

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