The Decision



Here is my opportunity to be vague and theoretical about how you improve your life and thus your creativity. Plenty of people know the right thing (or things) to do to make themselves happier and healthier. They know that if they stopped smoking or eating a bunch of fast-food crap they would feel better. These folks know that if they got out of that abusive relationship or if they spent more time with their kids they would have a greater feeling of fulfillment. While not all life choices are apparent, there are many things that you could do right now to make things better; most of those things are completely and utterly obvious.

If all of us did those things right this second, if we changed our lives immediately in those simple ways, we would be living in a happier world. But we don’t. Another instant has just gone by in which we haven’t all made the obvious changes. Why? We have yet to make these adjustments because in order to change our lives we must make the decision that we want to change our lives.

There is nothing in the world that takes as much effort as trying to alter your direction. It’s that old law of physics: an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Mustering up the energy to create that outside force is hard work. This is even the case if it’s getting away from something that is bad for you. The abusive relationship for example: there are all sorts of psychological reasons that have been cited for a woman or man to stay in an abusive relationship. One of the biggest reasons, however, is simply that it’s hard to summon the will to make a change in your life.

Also, simple things like adding more fruits and vegetables or reading ten minutes a day can seem impossible when you fail over and over again to integrate them. We know that these changes will be good for us and yet there they stay on the outside of our lives.

Is it our fear of change? Is it a fear that each change comes with potential new dangers? Is it some deep down fight or flight against altering the fact that we are currently alive; a sort of subconscious “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”? Does it matter?

When I first heard about personal development I wanted to jump in right away and change my life. You know, just like I wanted to pick up my mom’s old guitar and learn to sing and play. Also, how I wanted to get back into power lifting during college. This is also known as “things that I have about two months of motivation for before something else catches my eye.” A quick burst of will power is typically not enough to enforce a decision for a lifetime. I wish it could be as easy as that, for then I would be a guitar playing, car-lifting, life guru who could probably do a whole bunch of other cool things too.

I don’t know exactly when it happened. I’m not sure how many failed attempts to integrate more positive life habits I endured. I don’t even know if there was one particular event that pushed me over the top. At some point along the way, I made the decision that I wanted to change my life for the better. Since then, it’s been a tough but much better way of living.

So, you’re saying to yourself (with sarcasm), “Great! That’s wonderful, Bryan. So glad you could share. Now, how is all this theoretical bullcrap going to help me?”

I believe that it can help as far as knowing that it’s a conscious choice you have to make. Successful people aren’t born with it. They may have great people skills and they may be smart as a whip, but if they don’t make the choice to be better, they’ll be as good as everybody else. You need to do the same if you’re going to be exceptional at any part of your life.

Since this is theoretical, let me give you something practical you can do to help you get closer to making the decision to change. Make a list of five beliefs, states of being, people, or whatever it is that could get in your way to change a particular part of your life.

To go back to the abusive relationship example, here are five things that could get in your way from leaving it.

1. I can’t find anybody better.
2. I will be alone without this person.
3. We’ve been together so long and starting over will be really hard.
4. I love this person no matter what he or she has done to me.
5. I have so many friends in common with this person that it will upset them for me to leave him or her.

I know, I know, some of you are thinking that these are silly reasons, but there wouldn’t be so many people in these situations if it wasn’t for thinking like this. A practical thing you could do if you were in this kind of relationship is to make this list, then to really analyze it using your neocortex, your conscious thought, instead of your emotions. This may help you to poke holes in the problem and allow you to overcome it.

Let’s go with a more tea and dumplings example. Here are five things that could get in the way of a writer adding thirty minutes of writing a day.

1. I don’t have time.
2. I don’t need practice.
3. I’ll run out of things to write about.
4. I don’t have any places to write.
5. I’m afraid that if I really spend time on this it’ll expose that I’m not sure about this profession after all.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I slip in a deeper fear that a lot of creative people secretly harbor in there for number five? My bad :). I doubt that you’ll expose such a deep worry when you create your list of personal development hurdles, but chances are there will be something like that under the surface that is likewise holding you back.

Use these lists to provide evidence that you are wrong. Like a Geometry class theorem, prove each point wrong to establish that it is possible to improve your life. Once these typically emotion (or whining) based reasons have been thwarted, you will have a lot less standing in your way when it comes to making that big decision to change yourself for the better.


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