“They say sleep is the cousin of death /
Sew my eyes wide open cuz a dream is kin to ya last breath.”
I keep hearing these lyrics in my head from the song “Dreams” by The Game. It got me thinking about emotions and the numerous driving factors that cause us to move, change and grow and more importantly how they are intertwined.
As this time of year is ripe for change we start thinking about such factors as motivation, discipline, goal setting and finally, action.
But change is personal. It can be absolute, or at times, dynamic enough to simply toss out a decision and start over. I want to go deeper: what actually causes us to change because it’s not motivation, it’s not discipline, it’s not because you set goals…
In my youth my grandfather would endlessly go off about “If you wanted it bad enough you would…” I hated when he’d say that. Partly because I found it hypocritical, but mostly because it’s just not that simple. This isn’t some The Secret b.s.! Wanting and working for something are very different things.
There are a few base factors that cause movement and change in my life:
Love/Joy: I am drawn to helping others. I’m drawn to the idea of seeing others happy. People ask me to be a part of their journey and to be fair, I’m a sap and I adore the people that surround my life. So when I can or someone asks, I just do.
Tangent: Speaking of discipline, I just read this blog post from another great coach who speaks on the topic FAR better than I ever could hope and ties into the idea of love and joy being a true factor in change.
Anger: This emotion can be the most destructive of all of them. Anger is rarely accompanied with ration, nor does it lead to much constructive action. But when infused with action there is bound to be massive change. A word of caution, I’ve used anger as a platform for change but I’ve learned the hard way it’s just better to direct it outward at no real target; never direct it at someone if you hope anything positive to come of it.
You take this guy:
And this guy:
And have them debate…guaranteed the more logical of the two wins every time!
Desperation/Stress: I personally feel these two emotions are closely related even though they can feel different, they both sort of lead to the negative: stress, from which change can occur. Sometimes desperation is preceded by loss. If you end up being laid off, it forces you to change. That can turn out to be one of the greatest things that ever happened to you.
Angst: When my grandfather said “If you wanted it bad enough you would…” the better teaching would have been to say that wanting it bad enough builds the angst from which you can achieve great things. Angst, while it could be called the step-brother to anger, as the first can so quickly turn to the latter, has the potential to be the greatest useable, renewable, endless source of energy for creating positive change in life. In fact, I go so far as to call angst the fuel of dreams.
Angst is a great many emotions all wrapped into one neat little package. It’s our wants, desires, aches, longings, and that deep seeded need for something to become, be possessed (in every meaning of the word be it an item or a skill or…), to quite simply change!
Angst is a radio station with really shitty radio towers; the reception is usually terrible and fleeting. In any one given moment it can be intense or completely non-existent.
The trick is tuning it just right, for just long enough to create a single, solitary action that moves the situation one step closer to your dream.
You need to create ONE single action right when the moment arises as it’s not sticking around long. Now, it’ll probably come back tomorrow and the next day and 5 years from now if you don’t act on it (that’s really where the so-called “mid-life crisis” stems from, is years of ignoring the angst for change in your life); but still, you only have a few precious seconds.
1) Write something down NOW! Add it to a to-do list. Send a text message. Write an email, even just to yourself to read later. Write out a goal. Something, anything. It has to be written or 9/10 times it’s never going to happen.
2) Tell someone else. Tell them what you want. Ask them to keep you accountable “will you please help me with…” works extremely well.
The above three small actions set in motion more powerful emotion and change factors like motivation, realization, revelation, epiphany, and hope. Plus, you’d be very surprised the answer you get when you ask someone for help.
How long do you have to act? Seven breaths. There are times it is 5 minutes, there are times when it’s only 5 seconds. The average is seven breaths according to my absolute favored quote from the Hagakure:
“In the words of the ancients, one should make his decision within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break through to the other side.”
I read those words 10 years ago, it stuck at the time and this simple blog post has finally wrapped up for me why it’s meant so much.
Angst was always the fuel of my dreams.
So tune in, act quickly, and become epic!