Have you ever had this moment happen to you? I’m sure you have. You might have it once a month, once a week, maybe daily depending on how aware you are of your own circumstances.
What moment am I talking about?
That moment where you think to yourself “How did I get here?” or “What the hell have I been doing with my life?”
You don’t necessarily have a bad life, but you find yourself in this prison of banality, this lukewarm lifestyle you just found yourself in over a period of time.
Most people stay there. Everyone has dreams, but we settle for less. Not only do we settle for less, but we start to tell ourselves stories, rationalizations, about why we settled.
“I’m content with what I have.” Maybe. I don’t know you. But maybe you’re hiding.
“Life isn’t all about chasing your dreams.” Sure isn’t. But it’s definitely not all about spending the vast majority of your time doing things you don’t want — a job you don’t like, gaps of time lost with errands and commutes, a sliver of time on the weekend to enjoy yourself.
“You have to be realistic.” People who say this don’t usually have a justification for why you have to be realistic. Need to feed your family? Easy solution, chase the dream on the side. Don’t have a bunch of money? You don’t need a bunch of money to follow a dream.
Every excuse and story you tell yourself has a rebuttal. And deep down you know you’re just suffering from doubt.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I experience the feeling that I’m holding myself back, I find it deeply troubling.
In fact, it’s my secret to motivation.
I have a story that bears repeating. And a message that bears repeating.
Most people can’t remember the exact moment they decided to change their life, but I can. I was sitting in my ratty, literally ratty as there was a rodent in the wall, apartment. Specifically, sitting on my mattress with no bed frame that I got from an ex-girlfriend years ago because she was about to throw it out. Pretty sure there was a coil sticking out of it.
I’d been watching a few self-improvement videos online. Little by little they were getting me all riled up. That day, after watching one of those videos, I stood up and yelled at the top of my lungs:
“I’m not fucking living like this anymore!”
And then I just stopped living that way. Just like that. My circumstances didn’t change overnight, but my attitude did. I developed a level of frustration sufficient enough to change.
That’s the secret. Get extremely frustrated.
You have your Eckhart Tolles and David Hawkins of the world who will tell you that your desires are rooted in your ego and that you should just meditate, stay in the present moment, and enjoy life. That approach is valid and I encourage you to try it if you think it’ll help.
Me? I used the ‘unhealthy’ route. And it worked.
You’ve heard this technique before, but how do you get it to actually stick? I try to think back to what happened and understand why I finally put my foot down after trying and failing over and over again.
How do you really, truly, genuinely get to the point where enough is enough?
In my case, I just finally let the feeling of frustration truly wash over me without trying to block it at all. I felt sad. I felt like I betrayed myself. It hurt, badly.
If you don’t let the weight of your past decisions weigh heavily enough, you end up in that state of limbo. You feel anxiety about your life almost every single day. You have a micro-dose of an existential crisis that’s painful enough to annoy you, but not painful enough for you to do anything about it.
Find a way to goad yourself into changing your life. Fight fire with fire — rationalization with the cold hard truth. A lot of people tell me that they both love and hate my writing at the same time. Why? Because I poke, frustrate, and annoy on purpose.
I could tell you that everything will be fine if you stay the same, but then I’d be lying.
Sure, you’ll be fine in the sense that your life won’t be some great tragedy, yes, but you’ll live the tragedy of banality so many find themselves in.
Each passing day of your life you’ll be reminded how much of a wimp you are — just letting your life slip away, letting the opinions of others and your own self-talk construct a prison around your soul, letting something as trivial as lack of motivation keep you stuck in a perpetual loop of anxiety for the rest of your life.
Am I being dramatic? I don’t know. You tell me. There’s the famous Henry David Thoreau quote about ‘quiet desperation.’ Think about that phrase. It sums up people perfectly. We’re all shoving down the screams. Desperate, but quiet — repressed, stunted, paralyzed, stifled.
You can feel the passive-aggressive energy wafting through the air of society.
Why not take things from passive-aggressive to aggressive-aggressive?
Be aggressively honest with yourself so you can change.
Society will give you every outlet available to BS yourself. Will you take the bait or not?
You have so many different areas available to place blame, so many that you can spend a lifetime blaming everyone else but yourself. But then where will that get you? Stuck in limbo. And you know it.
So, be honest enough to have that uncomfortable conversation that sparks a change in your life. Once you have the source of fuel, you’ll channel it into something promising.
For me, it was writing. For you, it’s that ‘thing’ you deep down have always known you’ve wanted to do. It’s at the intersection of your talents and what the world wants. Maybe you have to do some digging and experimenting to figure out exactly what it is, but you have a sense of what it is in your bones.
A sense. That’s the game of life right there. Following your sense instead of burying them. As much as you try to use that pre-frontal cortex of yours to create those rationalizations, your true brain — the one that controls your feelings, emotions, and senses — always knows the real answer.
You can bury it deep, but you can never totally hide from it or escape it. Why not get familiar with it?
You know what you want out of life. We all do. The answers are quite obvious. But we’re deathly terrified. That’s it. The trick isn’t to have no fear but to counterbalance that fear with a stronger set of emotions and actions.
So, think about it. Think about how you feel about your life today and what you’re going to, you know, do about it.