When I don’t want to want anymore, and choose to act instead, I start becoming who I’ve always wanted to be.
Not right away. But day by day.Lukas Van Vyve
Achieving an outcome without the daily actions that lead to an identity shift is empty and unsustainable.
I may want to publish a book. But if someone writes the whole book without my input and I put my name on it in the end, do I deserve to call it my book?
I have a book. But I’m not a writer. And I’m not an author.
I may want to have a million dollars. But if tomorrow I win the lottery or receive a large inheritance without any action from my side, what does that mean?
I have a million dollars. But I’m not wealthy – and research suggests that without proper guidance, I’ll spend it all, ending up back at square one.
It works the other way around, too. You can blindly chase an outcome (or slip into bad habits) without considering how the actions you need to take to get there will change you as a person.
Depending on your actions to get there, chasing fame can make you happy – or very unhappy. Writing a book can make you happy or very unhappy. Building a hugely successful company can make you happy or very unhappy.
The value, satisfaction, and resentment are all in the actions, not the outcome.
Today, you’ll force yourself to chase fulfilment, not instant pleasure.
Because when you start getting the taste what’s on the other side of your avoidance…
Soon enough you won’t need brute force anymore.
As I gain more expertise in a certain field, I expect my posts on that topic to get shorter.
Because raw material starts with a lot of fluff, and only through sculpting away, day by day do I get closer to the essence.
If my posts on a topic I’m familiar with are getting longer on average, I’m off-track.
If they become more abstract, I’m getting off-track.
In other words…
When I don’t yet have so much to say
I can’t stop talking
Until I sculpt away
Some words matter more than others
And what’s left is
The path toward self-awareness isn’t always pleasant.
Take yesterday, when I realized that in many cases, I’m more interested in the comfort of “wanting” something I don’t have than in “taking action to get something.”
That unappealing realization triggered a cascade of even more unappealing questions.
Would I rather mess around with small blog posts instead of becoming a skilled writer crafting coherent arguments?
Would I rather learn about a million different strategies to grow a newsletter instead of actually spreading the word and getting more people to read my newsletter?
Would I rather learn how to learn a language than actually learn a new language?
Is the frustration of unrealized potential also a huge source of comfort in my life?
I’m not sure if I should be happy with that realization.
Maybe realizations aren’t even supposed to make me happy.
But even if they were, it doesn’t matter.
Because look: here I am, writing another insight about it.
Another Tiny Trust Builder, proving that every day, I am one step closer to renouncing my citizenship of the United States of “If I wanted, I could.”
Another reminder to myself and you, my friend, one I’ll repeat until the bitter end: actions overrule thoughts.
If you truly want to build a habit, you shouldn’t be able to hide behind excuses or vague commitments.
Which means the habit needs to be transparent.
Did you write one sentence today?
Did you learn one word in your target language today?
Did you run one mile today?
Some find transparency empowering.
Some think it’s scary.
But everyone who has built a habit knows this is the way.
I won’t believe I can publish a blog post every day – until I publish a blog post every day.
I won’t believe I can run a marathon – until I run a marathon.
I won’t believe I can speak a foreign language – until I speak a foreign language.
I won’t believe I can work through trauma – until I work through trauma.
You don’t have to believe something to start doing it.
You do something to start believing it.