Just Think About It
As a person who thinks too much about everything I must tell you that I relish being taken aside by people and told that I need to “just do it.”
As if the road-map is clear, as if the next step is certain. As if I am following someone else’s map — like they often are.
The world is filled with people who are “just doing it” who accomplish everything on their task list every day — I don’t think they are making anything any better for anyone.
How many people do you know who spend 2 hours a day or more just planning their life?
If you wanted to be good at a language, you would need to practice for at least that. So why is it that, when you set out to be good at your life, you are told to not think so much — as if just drifting, just doing the obvious thing, the first suggested thing or the easiest thing was going to take you right to where you are supposed to go?
If you want to do something interesting and new with your life, you goddamn need to spend some time THINKING about it. You need to write 100 to-do lists before you complete one. There is nothing wrong with NOT finishing an item on your to-do list – it means that when it came right down to it, that item wasn’t really worth it to you.
So think about that item. Is it boring? Is it scary? Do you just not know?
Not knowing is OK too. You don’t have to know why you do everything you do — in fact, you DON’T know why you do everything you do — so if you have an answer for everything then you are probably lying.
Just write the thing down on your list again the next day. Or forget about it and write something else.
In fact — write whatever you want on your list. It’s a list of suggestions — you aren’t your parent — you aren’t telling yourself what to do. You are making suggestions, and if you want to follow them or not, that is just fine.
Write a thousand things down, and look over them, and when it occurs to you or you have the opportunity to do something, go ahead.
Go ahead and ask yourself if there is something that you don’t do — but don’t worry if you don’t have the answer. If it seems like a good thing to write down again, then write it down again. If you don’t do it again, don’t do it. Maybe after having it there for a month, you will think of something else that is what you really wanted to do, and you will do that and stop writing the first thing down. Maybe you will realize why you have been choosing not to do it. Maybe the thing will just get done and you will never know why you didn’t do it the first time.
Writing down everything you want, every which way is your opportunity to influence yourself. Most of your drives and inclinations are the result of your upbringing, advertising and conversations with people in your life. You need to take time and think about what you want to do, or you will get swept away by other peoples compelling stories.
Set aside a note book that is going to be your magic “to-do” list. It’s magic, which means that you don’t have to actually worry about anything that is on it. You can do the things you list or not. No pressure. Write down everything you want to do.
Here is the hard part. Do this for 2 hours a day.
For two hours a day, make lists of things you would like to do, and plan out what you would need to do them. Don’t just write down “clean your room” — draw a diagram of what your ideal room would look like. Plan out the furniture you would build if you could. Figure out how much it would cost, what skills you would need. Write down ANYTHING you want. Write it down in terms that are as operational as possible. Maybe the first day it says “Learn Chinese” — but if you get a chance to make that more specific, like “register for a Chinese class at the local Community College” or “review Chinese language site on the web” or whatever — go ahead and let it become more specific.
People in goal setting sessions always rush through it — as if the strategic planning part of their life was something that should occupy 30 minutes of a goal setting retreat, and the rest of their life is to be enslaved to that 30 min. Buck the trend. Take a month, and spend two hours a day dwelling on your magic to-do list — don’t push yourself to DO anything. If some of it just gets done, that isn’t a problem, but if all you end up with is 8 notebooks filled with ideas and diagrams that’s fine too.
Don’t be a machine for fulfilling someone else’s dream. Just don’t do it.
Start by dreaming your own dream.
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