The power to find great ideas isn’t unique.
It’s the power to apply these great ideas in our lives that’s unique and admirable.
Read that again.
Let it sink.
I know you won’t read it again, so I will make you read it again by writing it in different words because I am kind of an asshole and a control freak.
Maybe I will add a word or two to explain more.
Here you go.
Finding things in this era isn’t a difficult task thanks to the internet.
However, it’s the execution of these ideas that’s challenging. It’s making these ideas a part of our behavior and thinking patterns to fix things that is hard.
And this is what I want to talk about.
Why the hell is that difficult?
There’s no simple answer to this question.
And ‘difficult’ is relative. The difficulty varies from one to another and from a situation to another.
The purpose of writing this article is to help you use the information that you have, or that you will gain, to solve your problems.
Not to use it to show off on social media or to sound smart when you give a friend a piece of advice that you don’t actually follow.
There’s nothing worse than having the answers and not being able to use them.
The key isn’t always new answers; the key sometimes is to use all that you have.
How could your life look like if you used all that you have?
I can’t tell for sure, and maybe neither can you. But I can confidently say that it would be a life that you are proud of.
Let’s start by tackling the first obvious issue: the past ways of thinking and behaving and being.
It’s Hard to Overwrite Old Conditioning
It’s not impossible, but it’s hard.
To illustrate this idea, I will use the following story.
When I was a teenager, I had a small mp3 player. And I used to download songs from the internet and copy them into it.
One of my favorite songs at that time was a song by Akon. I used to listen to it a lot.
The mp3 player used to play the songs on its list without shuffling them. And I used to listen to Akon’s song and get happy and energetic. When it finishes, the next song plays immediately. It was a dance song that starts with a loud beat and loud singing.
The funny thing is, until this day, when I listen to that Akon’s song, I immediately recall that dance song which used to play after it. It literally plays in my mind at the end of Akon’s song.
Now, if this is just a song I played about a couple of hundred times when I was young, think about what other shit had become a part of my way of thinking.
The point is, the old ways of behaving, thinking, and being are hardwired inside of us.
It could be partly nature and partly our environment’s influence (nurture). But it’s there. And it’s wired. And it’s the automatic way of thinking, behaving, and being.
And it’s not always the best way.
I am not telling you this to disappoint you. But the reality is the reality. And we need to deal with it as it is. We need to understand why applying useful ideas can be challenging, and this is the first place to start.
So, it’s not easy to challenge the old hardwired stuff. But with more awareness and a bit of grit, we should be able to see some improvement.
At least, we should have a say and not allow such uncontrollable situations to define the way we think, behave, and be.
We should choose and decide. That’s what being “willing” is.
Are you willing? Like, REALLY willing?
OK, I am not saying you are not willing.
But you could be.
Let’s define what ‘willing’ means.
If you are willing to do something, you voluntarily choose to do it. And you accept whatever responsibility or consequences that follow.
You voluntarily accept the responsibility of thinking, behaving, or being in a certain way.
And you accept the consequences, too.
You go all the way. You suffer at times and you get lost other times.
You choose this way of thinking, behaving, and being. And you reject the alternatives.
Because you believe that this way of thinking, behaving, and being is important to you. You believe it’s better than the alternatives. That it is worth it.
In other words, you value it.
And this ‘valuing’ manifests itself in your behavior.
So, for instance, if you value honesty, you will arrange your life in a certain way that aligns with being honest.
Of course, we all sometimes behave or think in ways that we don’t like and don’t value. We have a ‘shadow’ that will keep manifesting itself in our lives. As a quick note, for this is a complicated topic, we need to understand this shadow and dark side instead of denying its existence.
This willingness is important.
(Of course, I am talking about the willingness to do good and useful things with your life/time.)
It’s hard, however.
It’s hard because we need to accept difficult responsibilities and deal with painful consequences.
And it’s not measured by what you say you value. It’s measured by what you actually do.
The good news, however, is in the word voluntarily.
You can voluntarily choose to take on certain responsibilities and accept certain consequences as parts of your life.
This way, you choose what you are willing to do.
You wouldn’t choose it if it wasn’t meaningful and worthy to you. And that’s the part about finding a meaning for your life. It’s hard because it involves accepting some responsibility and paying some price. And if you could do that voluntarily, then, well, you become kind of an unstoppable badass.
Read that again and let it sink.
I will not write it again.
So, are you willing?
Only you can answer that.
And only you can choose to voluntarily do something.
Either way, here’s something nasty about life.
There are certain things that you need to do voluntarily. You just have to and don’t ask me why. And if you don’t do them, then two scenarios are likely to happen.
The first one, you end up doing them involuntarily. Against your will. Usually, because you have to make up for a shortfall or compensate for a certain lack. In this case, it’s really, really painful, and a harder task.
And there’s no guarantee that you would stick to doing it. No one likes to be forced into doing anything.
Just like the addict who finds no choice but to start recovering because shit has got out of control.
The second one, you keep avoiding it and you end up paying a huge price you wouldn’t have paid had you voluntarily accepted your responsibility in the first place.
Not sexy. But enough motivation to change, isn’t it?
That depends on you.
Let’s Reality-check Your Expectations
You want to solve your problems.
Or, you want to make a change.
You want different results.
Well, how do you envision those solutions and changes to be? What are your expectations?
Let me cover a few distorted ways of making unhealthy expectations.
Do you see the world in terms of it being either black or white?
Meaning, you are either a success or you are a failure.
You are either good or bad.
You either have it all or you have nothing.
If you lose at one thing, it means you are a loser regarding all areas.
This is a sick way to have expectations. And those sick expectations will cripple you.
It’s not about lowering your expectations so that you don’t get hurt. It’s about having realistic, healthy expectations so that you don’t assume you are not making any progress.
Stop those all-or-nothing expectations.
Most of life happens in the grey area. The media often focuses on the extremes (either the top or the bottom) convincing us that this is what life is.
One of the subtle ways we adopt this mentality is by thinking that we need to have all the answers before we do anything. We need all the information and knowledge out there before we can take action.
The self-help junkies know what I am talking about.
Those who stop their progress and keep reading and educating themselves, article after article, book after book, and just never take a new step forward.
You don’t need all the knowledge out there to do something. The ‘all’ isn’t real; it’ll keep evading you.
Recognize when ‘getting more answers’ is just an excuse to do nothing while feeling you are doing something.
And stop thinking that there’s going to be a heroic scene in your life in which you will walk around with dramatic music in the background while all the people who put you down are screaming in regret for ever doubting you.
Those expectations come from the media and are not likely to happen in the real world. Superhero movies are popular, but the reality is different.
And those distortions come from our nature as humans. I personally believe they come from our ego. I believe that because we need some humility in every growth journey, a.k.a, we need to overcome our ego in order to grow.
There’s something else in our nature as humans that plays against us.
We have expectations, and we want them to happen right now.
Even if those expectations are healthy, impatience will make the entire process unhealthy and damaging.
It makes us quit right in the middle of something great.
It will make us act based on instant gratification. It will make it hard to delay gratification.
Impatience is the enemy of growth. Fight it. It will make unhealthy expectations more dangerous. And it will screw up even the healthy expectations.
Change is not a linear path.
It’s not a one-way trip from point A to B. You may return to point A again, but it doesn’t mean you cannot reach point Z.
Finding solutions isn’t as simple as asking questions and being stroked by answers.
Both are messy journeys. Adventures, even!
They have enough uncertainties, and they require you to be vulnerable at times, that they are not as simple as following a clear path.
That’s everything I have to write about this.
I want to finish this article by saying:
Be one of those who apply what they know.
What’s the point of accumulating knowledge if you are not going to use it?
What’s the point of having great ideas if they will just remain ideas?
Do. Act. Take action.
Manage your expectations. And have some patience.