Nicole Stone / Assistant Opinion Director
As 2016 approaches, people everywhere are cranking out notebooks and pens to write down adjustments they want to make in their lives. However, according to a 2015 study conducted through the University of Scranton, only eight percent of Americans succeed in maintaining their resolutions. These resolutions are made through the decision that something isn’t working, and something needs to change to make it work. We all know change is hard because it interrupts the flow of our lives with something foreign.
Resolutions work fine for the first week of the New Year, maybe even the first month. There is all this energy in the air fueling us to establish a fresh start. But after a month, we get tired and run out of steam. Like a machine, we stop and the discomfort of making your dream a reality feels worse than just dreaming about it. Netflix is comfortable and welcomes us back.
Yet, many movies and books tell us that through believing in ourselves and following our hearts, we can succeed and take the wheel to captain our ships. They ultimately tell us to go after our dreams with a club. While this is all very essential, it is simultaneously useless without action.
It isn’t that we don’t dream, it isn’t that at all. People have a tendency to do a lot of thinking about their dreams, then sadly never get past that initial vision. Dreams like to sell themselves. They wear a nice dress or suit on the first date and show us all their good sides, and we’re lured in. We love this idea of what could be, what would be, what should be. We love the way that looks. It’s shiny.
What we don’t initially see is the path that must first be tread in order to reach out and grab the lives we want. We don’t realise how sweaty we have to get to make it all real. When we do, it’s often overwhelming. This is where a lot of people get stuck. It becomes a task best left to tomorrow. Then tomorrow becomes tomorrow’s tomorrow and the promise of tomorrow becomes a cycle until we’re stuck waiting for the right moment to start, to do. But what of the great secret to magically obtaining your dreams?
It doesn’t exist.
As much as I love the idea of magic, there is no magic spell to take you where you want to be. There is no trick, there is no tip. There is just you, and an amount of time.
Some people choose to sleep in, others will choose to wake up before the sun to make time for their goals because they matter enough.
Hard work is hard. Insightful, I know. Hard work is so often overlooked in the shadow of a great dream. There is value in doing the work, people throughout history have proved it time and time again. The most difficult part of it all is starting. Starting something requires us to experience change and consequently feel discomfort. This makes beginnings the most bountiful experiences people have; it takes determination to experience middles, to keep going. Discomfort is just an unfortunate byproduct of the breaking of old, familiar patterns to make way for new ones. It is a necessary step in adjusting our existing routines to include activities that will assist us in achieving larger goals.
Routines are one of the many cycles that dominate life on Earth. We are born, we grow, we learn, we die: circle of life. Spring, summer, fall, then winter: the seasonal cycle. Cycles make things work like gears in a machine, they come naturally to us and are imbedded into our nature. But they can also exist in destructive forms like procrastination. Cycles involve habit, which also has its good or bad variants. The habits you adopt are powerful tools that will either empower you to achieve what you want, or stunt your growth.
From an evolutionary perspective it is natural to resist anything that causes us hardship like putting our procrastination in check. It is easy to watch Family Guy reruns, it is less easy to turn off the television and write a book. You ultimately have to decide if the discomfort of getting up and going for it is greater than the dream or if it’s the other way around.
Instead of telling yourself you want to write a book, tell yourself you will write every single day until you have a book. And then do it.
Maybe Shia LaBeouf was onto something.
Image from Flickr