Why Can’t You Have What You Want?
Every day I find myself surrounded by people who are unhappy with their lot in life. They don’t have the body they want, the job they want, the partner they want, or the skills they want. Every day they want to be something they aren’t, and every day instad of making progress towards their dreams, they distract themselves or rationalize away their inability to have what they want.
Now, I don’t believe that we should always get what we want, because realistically, we cannot control everything. But there are a lot of things we can control which we don’t do anything about.
If you’re dissatisfied with your body, why don’t you do something about it? If you want to learn how to make clay pots, why can’t you do something about that? What is preventing you from doing those things? We’re not talking about winning Mr. Universe or becoming a world-renowned potter. We’re just talking about simple things.
For a lot of people, there is nothing preventing them from making progress in these small but important goals. Nothing but their own inertia.
I think it comes down to habits in a lot of cases. We are in the habit of being distracted from the important things most of the time. We spend our free time watching old re-runs on TV or eating unhealthy because we think it’s easier, when really it’s just habitual. We think, “I’d like to be fit and lean, but I drink every weekend with my friends so it’s just not going to happen, and I can’t give up my two glasses of wine every night.” Or we think, “I’d love to learn how to make clay pots, but I just don’t have the time [because I have to keep up on my TV shows and Facebook news].”
Why don’t we try thinking, “I’d like to be fit and lean, so I’m going to drink less when I hang out with my friends.”? Why isn’t learning how to make clay pots (or following any creative passion) more important to us than useless, feel-good distractions?
Maybe these goals aren’t that important. But I’ve found that when they are put off year after year, they slowly begin to gnaw at our sense of self-confidence. Every year we have a dream or a want that we just don’t make any progress towards realizing. So every year, we reinforce the mental habit that we can’t make the changes we want. And every year, the passion dies, until it is little more than a pale musing or forgotten entirely.
What would it take to be the person you want to be? An exercise program? A class at the community college to get you started? Music lessons? A small purchase that you keep putting off because you instead spend your extra cash on iPad apps?
Maybe we are afraid of change. But I think we ought to be more afraid of never improving, of always being dissatisfied with ourselves when we have the ability to make positive change.
What are your thoughts? Does it make sense to go after every dream you can, or are you okay living with unrealized aspirations? Do you have any nagging dreams that you just keep putting off? Please share in the comments, or via Twitter.