When was the last time you told yourself “I’ll start tomorrow….”? It was probably recently. I used to tell myself that every single day, about healthy eating, working out, practicing mindfulness, telling someone I’m thinking about them. I still catch myself thinking it now.
Why do we do that? Why do we put it off, telling ourselves that instead of starting ourselves on a growth trajectory today, of taking that little step toward improvement, we’ll start tomorrow? Or maybe it’s not even tomorrow: maybe it’s once we finish this project, once we move to that new place, once we get to the next stage in our life. Then we’ll start. Then we’ll take the step to becoming healthier, happier, more productive, more positive, more comfortable in our skin.
I believe we do this because we’re scared. It is ‘safe’ to stay the same. Even if we don’t like the results we’re getting, we know what to expect if we keep doing what we’ve always done. Our egos don’t want us to change: they have a way of pulling us back. If we want to achieve greatness, to become a better, happier version of ourselves, our egos will try to sabotage us. What if we don’t actually get what we want by doing what we set out to do? What if we are disappointed? What if we fail?
We sabotage ourselves by thinking this way, by staying small and not going for what we want. After having talked to many people about their health and life goals, I have encountered deep desire to make a change, but also countless objections to doing it, and they usually revolve around this fear of commitment. They are not objections to getting the results they want or a desire to improve themselves. They are objections to committing to something that will change their way of doing things, shift the way they’ve always been, differ from the way their friends are.
The most common objections I hear are about time and money, which are both branches of commitment. Many of us think we don’t have the time to do something because the ego says we don’t. We tell ourselves there is not enough time in the day to get that done, that we have too many things to do to take care of ourselves, to invest in ourselves. We give our time to others, to watching Netflix, to Buzzfeed quizzes, to school work, to our jobs, to extracurriculars that will build our resumes, but we don’t invest our time in what will make us healthier, happier, better people, more productive, or more purposeful.
We also don’t think we have the money to invest in our own growth. Instead of investing our money on our growth trajectory, we spend it on things that bring us fleeting happiness or help us cope with outside influences. We stay at the same earning potential at a job, spending sick days and not getting promoted or making the money we could because we’re too tired to function at peak performance. We spend our money on coffee, alcohol, eating out, clothes, ubers, painkillers, weed, hangover cures, and quick fixes, but we have an inherent barrier to spending money on actually getting to the results we so deeply desire.
This is not the fault of any individual, but rather the fault of society, of the culture in which we’re steeping. It is okay and encouraged to invest in stocks, in real estate, in monetary things that are out of our control, but it is not okay to invest in our own growth. We think that if we want something badly enough, we should be able to just do it ourselves. We should have the discipline to get healthy on our own, to look and feel the way we want and achieve true happiness through willpower and determination. But this isn’t true. We all need help, as we are social creatures and need the support of others in order to achieve our goals. And unfortunately, the habits of those around us are usually just as toxic as our own (if not more), and are not helping us get any better. By investing the time and money it takes to commit to improving ourselves now and get the help we need, we can design the future we want. We can try to do it on our own, but our lives will only be that much harder, and the results will be that much further out of our reach.
We tell ourselves: “Once I do this…, get to this stage in my life…, move here…, finish this project…, THEN I’ll start the next step in my life, the next step toward growth, toward health, toward happiness.”
The next time you find yourself saying these things, ask yourself: why wait? What are you gaining from waiting? If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, will you keep getting what you’ve been getting? Is that enough for you anymore? Or do you want to move past the old you into the new you, the healthier you, the happier, more purposeful and passionate you?
The time is now to take your future into your hands. If you don’t want to continue getting what you’ve been getting out of your life, your health, your relationships, your time, your body, your mind, your soul, you can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing.
So take that first step, and start moving into your potential.