Take Control of Your Life by Defining Your “Why Not”
“Everything you care about doesn’t matter and all your hopes and dreams are worthless.”
How’s that for an opener?
Well, that’s, in essence, what you’re telling yourself when you avoid doing the things you need to do or avoid making the changes you need to make.
Before you conclude I’ve completely lost it, stick with me on this train of thought and you might just find the missing piece to the ‘motivation’ puzzle.
Now, I’m not talking about school-age procrastination when I talk about avoidance. I’m talking about the substantial changes you’re avoiding. Changes in line with: “becoming the person you need to become to reach the goals that you know are worth reaching.” You don’t need me to tell you what they are, you know… Oh, you know.
That’s some heavy stuff. How can one possibly bear its weight?
The answer might be waiting for you in the last place you want to visit… in the “deepest part of the cave” as the saying goes.
Now, I’m no philosopher… but here’s something that sure makes a lot of sense to me: Finding the motivation to “get something” isn’t nearly as potent as the motivation to “get away” from something.
It’s the root of why we avoid things, isn’t it? We want to “get away” from the agitation that comes with change.
Before you disregard this as military-grade negativity, give yourself a moment to sit with this thought… what’s the logical conclusion if it’s true?
Think about it…
When you’re procrastinating or just feeling demotivated, does “finding your why” or “thinking positive” magically propel you to get back in action? Perhaps if you have exceptional clarity on what you want and why, with zero doubt about your pursuit. But, let’s be real, most of us mortals aren’t there yet. More often than not, just enough doubt lingers to make us question everything. The orthodox approaches to “getting motivated” aren’t enough to ease the existential dread that pushed one to avoid that “thing you should be doing” in the first place.
Short of an unquestionable revelation of mission ascending to us from on high, what else can we do?
Maybe it’s not time to look for the light. Maybe it’s time to get angry. Maybe we need to look our own personal lucifers’ in their eyes and consider what they have planned for us if we don’t DO SOMETHING.
Perhaps it’s time to unearth something worth “getting away from” with as much gumption as we put into “defining what we want and why.”
It’s not just the worst-case scenario of what could happen to us, it’s the cataclysm of all the positives lost that we could have brought to the world… if we just “did the thing.”
Let’s call it our “why not.“
Now, I have to clarify, it’s not that you don’t love the meaningful things in your life, or that your goals aren’t good enough. You do, and they are. It’s simply that those things don’t quite trigger the primal meaty parts of your brain stem designed to get you moving.
Fear… Now there’s a motivator.
Not the fear that blinds and disorients us, but a rational fear of realities that await us if we avoid the changes we know we need to make or avoid doing the things that need to be done.[There’s a reason why religion points to both the Love of God and the Fear of God as a motivator. When ones not quite workin’, there’s always the other to give a go…]
Anger. There’s another good one. What can you get so mad about that you wouldn’t even think to slow down before you made it right?
Guilt. What uneasy memory of your past do you avoid thinking about? Not so much one of embarrassment, but of missed opportunity? The thing you lost because you didn’t do. Linger in that guilt for a moment and see if it won’t move you to pick up that pen and write.
Envy, jealousy. Not of others, but of who you could be by now or where you could be, or what you could have built. For a moment, let your bones shake with jealousy for that life. Starting to feel a bit of fire in your belly? Good. Use it.
There’s more, but you get the idea.
We work all our lives to rid ourselves of these emotions when instead we could harness them. The trick is not to torture ourselves with these emotions and give up, that’s too easy… we need to build a healthy connection with them and what they’re there designed to do. Don’t be afraid of visiting them when you need more than “good vibes” to get moving… you should, however, be deathly afraid of the alternative.
So maybe you buy my premise, logically. But you still aren’t with me ethically, morally, or just feel a bit icky about the whole idea. Understandable, but how has the alternative served you so far? Maybe it’s time to consider that you might be wrong, and that should make you angry. Perhaps angry enough to make a change.
Stop worrying about if it’s “ok” to feel a certain way, and contemplate why these emotions are there in the first place. They’re not here to hurt you… they’re here to move you when all you want to do is crumble.
I’ll leave you with this, from the ‘Shadow’ man himself, C.G. Jung…
“Nobody can fall so low unless he has a great depth. If such a thing can happen to a man, it challenges his best and highest on the other side; that is to say, this depth corresponds to a potential height, and the blackest darkness to a hidden light.”