I lay in a semi-conscious state, with my eyes just open to know its dawn. I had gone to bed early last night, in the hopes of rising up early for the coming Monday. I could barely see with my heavy eyelids in the cold morning as the sun was still not up. I checked my phone for the clock, it read quarter past five. I said to myself “I still have fifteen minutes” and continued to lay listlessly in my small college dorm room bed, waiting for the alarm to go off. I knew if I resumed my sleep, I would pass my wake-up time. Taking notice of this, I slowly struggled off from my bed and sat upright. I “tried to remember” what it was for, that I decided to wake up early in the first place.
After a brief struggle, my fear of losing out on precious time conquered my inherent inertia. I put up a pot of hot water and started doing some body weight exercises. It was then that I remembered that I had to finish a couple of boring topics before my class. Once wide awake, I sat down to study and dragged on about for an hour and a half before it was time for my classes.
Once at class, I used to get thoughts and ideas of the things I needed to do to enhance my skills and “plan” (yea…in quotes) these activities for early mornings. Activities involving studies, learning a new skill or miscellaneous work. The next morning I would reconvene to my toad-like waking up behaviour.
This would go on throughout the week, until it was Sunday.
Every Saturday night, I retired late to bed and woke up late on a Sunday. With a large mound of pending stuff to be done from last week, and an even larger mound waiting for me the next week, I use to get overwhelmed and anxious. This went for weeks. Weeks turned into months.
I knew I had to change, I had to turn-around the way I lived, change my lifestyle and hence, change my behaviour.
I was at the receiving end of things. Things happened to me. Deadlines came in and I was not ready for them. It was like I was playing a one sided tennis match, where every ball I was served was meant to miss. I just didn’t know how to cope up with things. As a reader of this article, it may have happened to you too. If not, then keep up the good work 😉
It was a Sunday evening. I had decided to get my things straight. But I didn’t know how. I took a pen and paper (as a way to self-introspect) and asked myself the million dollar question, “Why am I the way I am ?”
Little did I know this question will change everything.
Everything we do, has a why. This why can be set upon by us consciously or unconsciously. Unconscious whys are like the following; we sleep because we are tired, we eat because we are hungry, we breathe because we need air and so on. These unconscious actions have been wired within us since our birth, and due to repeated and consistent actions, they have become involuntary and do not require any conscious efforts, hence they are called as habits. These actions do not require any brain power. This is easy.
Where we face trouble is in the conscious whys. Here is a handful. Why is it difficult to wake up early morning ? Why is it difficult to follow your to-do list for the day ? Why is it that we find it difficult to create new habits and get rid of old ones ?
This is the turning point of our argument.
It is difficult because our motivation (or the why factor) is not as strong as our need to sleep or to eat. Let me explain this. We “wish” to wake up early but “need” to sleep. We “wish” to study but “need” to relax. We “wish” to workout everyday but “need” to take a rest. The two words I have quoted here are “Wish” and “Need”, and if we think about it closely, all our actions are governed by these emotions.
Socrates, the famous Greek philosopher was once asked by a guy, “How do I become successful ?” Socrates was like “I’ll show you but will you be able to do this ?” The guy said “Yea why not ?” “Alright then, let us go to the beach” said Socrates.
Once at the beach, Socrates asked him to walk with him in deep waters. The guy was a bit petrified but went anyway. Once in chest deep waters, Socrates took his head and held it under water, and watched him struggle. After a few brief moments he let go of him and they came back to the shore. The guy, obviously livid, asked him, “Why did you do that ?”, Socrates asked him, “What did you feel like when I held you under water, did you feel the need to breathe ?”, the guy was like “You think ?” Socrates continued, “Did you feel the need to stay alive ?”, the guy was now quiet. Socrates then said, “Just the way you absolutely needed to breathe for survival, make sure you absolutely need to excel at whatever it is you are doing, then you’ll be successful”
This is a shift in the mindset. But like all changes, it is easier said than done. Let’s take a moment to reflect on what the above incident really meant.
Humans are wishful creatures. We wish and dream things. We manage to accomplish some and choose to let go of others. Amongst all our wishes, how many of them do we make our needs and let go the rest ?
This is what separates us.
We desire for greatness, but don’t need it. The moment we start to need this greatness is the moment we change our approach on working towards it. So simply said, make sure whatever it is you are desiring for, becomes your necessity. When we do this, we are essentially giving ourselves an ultimatum, that “this needs to be done, whatever it takes”. We are keeping this thing on priority. When we do this, we approach this task with a whole new level of seriousness and rigour. When you make this thing so important, that you are excited enough just by the thought of it, that’s when you are on the way to accomplish it.
Take for instance a case here.
A friend of mine from a non-english speaking country was struggling with English as a spoken language. She knew how to write, but just couldn’t speak well. So what did she do ? She made sure that every single moment she’s not working, she would practice speaking, writing and listening to English. As expected, she become one of the best at it, and held the position of the president of the debating society of our university.
That’s what happens when you change your why from a “desire” to a “need”. You will make sure that every morning you wake up, you will have the excitement of achieving your goal faster than yesterday. It is often said that, “An empty mind is a devil’s place”. What it means is make sure you have a goal in your mind, make sure your existence has a purpose, a why. A why which is strong enough that gets you excited to wake up every single day, and work towards it. When you develop this mindset, rest assured you will do it. Whatever it takes.
If you care enough for a result, you will find a way to get one
So let me ask the million dollar question to you, why are you the way you are ?