In July of 2001, when I first moved from Sydney to Seattle, I figured the time was ripe for some self-improvement. I had the time to read and digest new ideas, and a new life ahead to contemplate.
I bought books and tapes. Dr Wayne Dyer and Anthony Robbins became my companions. Before bed I’d read their words of wisdom. On long walks I’d listen to their tapes. At the gym, they’d work out with me. These guys were in my head.
But that’s as far as they went. I didn’t notice my bank balance increase. There weren’t more women hitting on me. Things just seemed…well, more or less the same. Being analytical, it seemed clear that I was missing something, that I was the weak link in this beautifully narrated pathway to success. Just what was it that I wasn’t doing?
The continual doubt that I couldn’t shake was that the gurus’ version of the world didn’t match my version. In their world, you dream, tell yourself stories, convince yourself you deserve more than this, and tell everyone about it. In my world, you set goals, work towards them, sacrifice, work harder, deal with failure, try different paths, adapt to change, use your intelligence, seek guidance from experts, strive to be the best, and work some more.
Now, whenever I look at the self-help books in the bookstore, or hear someone tell me that “…affirmations have changed my life…” I’m skeptical. I’m happy for that person, if it gives them what they need. Good-oh.
My life, however, is different. The way to make things happen, better things, is to work at them. Be smart. Create good habits. Do the right thing. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Focus. Understand that doing a little every day is a more certain way than any other of moving towards your goal. Yes, there will be moments of setback, just as there will be quantum leaps forward. It’s not a single-speed universe. The only secret is to keep moving.
In essence, this is an argument for logic against emotion. There are minimum requirements in life. Feed, clothe and house yourself. Provide for your family. Plan for your future. Not always will you accomplish these by doing everything your way. Sometimes it will require sacrifice, especially of your need for self-expression.
Once you’re up and running with the essentials of life, that’s the time to indulge yourself. Then you can tell yourself that “it’s my time.” Until then, keeping paying the bills before they’re due, and save for a rainy day. Utility companies don’t accept good intentions, and life without electricity blows.