When You Don’t Want What You Want

by MW Cook

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever been overtaken by a dream so vast and shiny that it becomes nearly all you ever think about? A dream that is attainable, for sure, if not for that one problem you face every time you sit down to carry it out.

You just don’t want to do it.

And who can blame you? There are so many other things in the world that you could be doing. Reading books. Playing games. Sitting in a soft chair staring off into the abyss of the nether-realm. Lots to do.

And the dream tickles and pokes you from behind. “Hey! Look at me!” it says. “You said you loved me, so where are you?”
“I’m right here, I just don’t feel like drawing you into existence just yet,” you say as you fill your mouth with candy.
“When, then?”
“In a minute.” But in a minute you’ve passed out, and when you awake you have nearly forgotten your dream.

What gives? Why don’t we want to do what we want to do? Or, better yet, how can we want it?

I don’t really know, but I have some guesses. For whatever they’re worth, here they are.

  • Discipline is the price of freedom. That’s an old adage that has clung to me since college. The truth of it seems stronger every day. Without discipline, you’ll never get out of the chair. The trick is getting it. Wooing discipline is like trying to flirt with a nun.
  • Remind yourself of why you love your dream. When you can’t seem to work up the will to work, close your eyes and imagine the day when the work is done. In fact, take a second and do it now. Nice, eh? That could actually happen, y’know. Fall back in love with the dream.
  • Look at the next step only. I once heard that imaginative people are the worst procrastinators because they can very clearly imagine all the work required to finish a project. And that drains. So quit looking at the whole thing. Just look at what needs to be done today. Look at tomorrow’s stuff tomorrow.
  • Stay in shape. The body and mind and spirit are all woven together in a beautiful and frustrating dance. When one goes, they all go. So jog or something. And stay away from the donuts!
  • Do it now. Quit planning. You don’t need to plan nearly as much as you want to. Good plans are useful, but not nearly as useful as doing the work. So just do it. Now. Don’t worry, this blog will still be here when you’re done.
  • Don’t be perfect. They always say ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing well.’ True enough. But anything worth doing is also worth doing is also worth doing half-arsed, too. Better a shoddy dream that lives than a perfect dream that’s dead. Besides, with most things you can always go back and tweak it when you’re done.
  • Stop talking to others about it. We want others to endorse our dreams. And so we blab and tell them. But the response we get is almost never what we’re looking for. In fact, it seems that most people can’t understand our dreams. And why should they? The dreams are yours and yours alone! So keep it to yourself, or a small group who thinks like you, and truck on!
  • Enjoy it. I often don’t know how to do this. But having it as a goal in my head seems to help a little. Enjoy your work. Enjoy building your dream. Heck, if you can pull that off, you won’t need to worry about any other strategy.

    PS – Congratulations to Eric and Alex Edwards who won the shameless contest. Send me an email letting me know which book you want and it’ll be shipped out to you pronto!