Do You Have These Conversations with Yourself?
If only we obeyed ourselves like we expect others to obey us
Let’s imagine you own a construction company, and you’re talking with your employee, John.
You: John, I need to run an errand, but when I’m gone, I want you to dig a ditch from the foundation to the road.
John: Ok (John is a man of few words before his double shot of Starbucks Espresso).
You return from the errand two hours later, and John is lying in the back of his ’97 Dodge Ram drinking coffee and listening to Waylon on Spotify. The shovel is on the ground, and not a morsel of earth has been turned over. He flashes you the peace sign as you approach.
You: John, what the hell?
John: Whaddya mean?
You: John, I told you to dig a ditch! (Expletives edited out).
John: Sipping from his venti Cafe Americano, “Nah, man, you said you wanted me to dig a ditch. You didn’t tell me to.”
You: With visions of parting John’s skull with the shovel, “Same thing, man. You were supposed to dig the ditch! Why didn’t you do it?”
John: I was going to. I really wanted to. I had a vision of the ditch already dug in my head. Then I saw these folks walk out of Starbucks with steam rising from their cups and decided I’d dig a better ditch and faster if I had a cup of coffee first.
You: I’ve been gone two hours.
John: Yeah, I know. I turned on Spotify because music just gets me going, you know? Gets my juices flowing, and I knew it would inspire me to do some great digging.
You: Eyes wide, arms stretched out, but no words.
John: Well, Spotify played Willie’s “Always on My Mind,” and man, that song gets me every time. Reminds me of my ol’ lady who left me…
You: John, the ditch!
John: Yeah, man, I want to do the ditch, but I need to process some stuff, you know, and I knew once I got my mind right, I’d be able to really do a great job on the ditch.
You begin yelling, and John puts on his Beats.
We Have This Conversation with Ourselves All the Time
We all have a John living in our bones. We know the right things to do, we tell ourselves to do those things, and we set goals and our alarm clocks to do those things. But the bed is too warm and comfortable, the Krispy Kreme doughnuts our sinful wife brought home are too hot and tempting, or we’ll start the online course next month.
If our employees took orders from us as poorly as we take orders from ourselves, we’d fire the bums by Wednesday of the first week on the job. Yet we cut ourselves more slack than we cut anyone else and, as a result, cheat everyone.
You’re the Only One Who Really Cares
Yes, a few people love you and care about you (just making a broad guess here). But unless you’re in the military, no one will ride your butt to get out of bed in the mornings to be the best you that you can be. Everyone else is deep overcoming their own dysfunctions to chase the American dream.
I finally discovered after 54 years that goal setting isn’t complicated. It’s a 4-step process.
1 — Set a Goal
Decide what you want and why. Make a goal and determine the steps or activities required to reach your goal.
2 — Do the Things
I told you the plan is simple, but we’re our worst enemy. It’s fun to talk about the life we want. We can entertain strangers at happy hour with our grand visions. But we have to get off our wishes and out of bed to do the deal. Maybe we use the word “dream” to describe the life we want because we lack the discipline to truly consider it a future reality. Discipline determines our destinies.
3 — Apply Grace
Why do we allow one bad day to screw us over? You caved to the Nutter Butters Friday night — so what! A weak moment doesn’t negate a strong week of solid gains on your goals. Give yourself the gift of grace you’d give a good friend. And start over tomorrow. The pursuit of a purpose-filled life is a battle fought each day. Or, as Jeff Olson writes, it’s The Slight Edge. The war is won by consistently and daily winning more battles than you lose, and you will lose some. Apply grace, abandon perfection.
4 — Start Over
A worthy goal deserves your patience. You’re playing the long game or as someone said, you’re living for the line and not the dot on the line. A good “why” isn’t half-baked. “I want to get rich quick” or “lose 10 pounds by Friday” are childish dreams, not sustainable future realities. Failing yesterday doesn’t make you a failure today, but quitting does. What goal can deny a person who falls but keeps getting up and advancing? Get up and start over. Today is a new day.
You are your own worst enemy. No one is pushing you out of bed in the mornings, but no one’s holding you back, either. Kick John’s ass and be a goal-getter.
**Special thanks to my brother from another mother, Arthur, for this article’s inspiration — one of the best men I know.