Wants Versus Wishes

Everything you have in life is because you wanted it. The things you own, the people you surround yourself with and the things you do each day are all your creation. Your decision to want that in your life.

You keep what you want, ignore or remove what you don’t.

You might hate your job but the truth is, you don’t want to leave because you’re afraid of the unknown. You want the comfort of knowing what comes tomorrow.

Your relationship might’ve been over a long time ago but you don’t want to leave because you don’t want to be alone. There is safety in pairs.

You’re always broke and never able to get ahead but you don’t want to work another job to make more money. You can’t afford that new purse but you want it, so you put it on your credit card.

You don’t want to leave your job. You don’t want to find someone new (or be alone.) You don’t want to have money in the bank.

You don’t want to be active. You don’t want to be skinny.

You don’t want to travel the world.

You don’t want to learn how to speak Italian.

You might think you want these things. But you don’t.

You don’t want any of it.

But you wish you did.

And there’s a difference between wanting something and wishing for something.

If you want something, you’ll make it happen. You’re willing to sacrifice whatever you need in order to have the things you want in life. If you hate your job, you’re willing to risk opening the door into the unknown to find work that’s rewarding.

If you’re not happy in your relationship, you might wish things were different. But if you want them to be different, then you’ll do whatever it takes to try to fix what’s broken or have the courage to leave and be alone.

If you don’t want to be broke anymore, you’ll find a way to get out of debt and start saving money. You’ll quit spending money on shit you don’t need. You’ll pick up extra hours at work or find another job. Maybe you’ll start a side hustle to earn extra money.

If you want to travel the world but you’re not traveling the world, you don’t really want to. You’re just wishing.

You don’t want to be fit and healthy. You’re just wishing.

It’s time for you to stop wishing and start wanting. Want it bad enough to make it happen.

Wanting without action is still wishing.

Don’t wish your life away.

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Independence, “The Rules,” and Asking for Permission

As Independence Day approaches, Chris Guillebeau asked his Twitter followers “What does independence mean to you?”

For some people, independence means having enough money to quit their job to travel around the world, while for others it’s about having a reliable source of income and a couple weeks of vacation each year. By definition, independence is “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.”

Independence, for me, means not having to ask for permission to live my life. It’s not always easy.

The vast majority of people (myself included) are required to operate within a certain framework of rules on a daily basis. At work, there are procedures that must be followed and policies to guide our decisions. “The Rules” exist to create an environment of equality, to dictate a standard for quality, and to maintain a certain level of productivity. The Rules serve a purpose.

But the problem with rules is that they’re rules. And because “rules are rules,” the people “in charge” aren’t able to consider the needs of employees on an individual basis. A common refrain from management is “If I make an exception for you, I’d have to make an exception for everyone.” This argument is a logical fallacy (known as the Slippery Slope), but it’s often reason enough to have our needs brushed aside and ignored. Our lives are at the mercy of The Rules.

 If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission.

We’ve grown accustomed to being told what to do. For years we’ve let other people dictate our lives. We’ve been taught to follow The Rules and ask for permission. We’ve had to cancel plans to work late, missed events because we had deadlines to meet, and our entire lives are scheduled around our work schedules.

What a bunch of shit!

It’s time to stop asking for permission to live our lives, and it’s time to stop following someone else’s set of rules. It’s time we stop letting our lives be influenced by imaginary obstacles…obstacles which are little more than lame excuses we use to convince ourselves that we can’t have the life we want and are the reason we believe we have to play by the rules: money, time, security.

Here’s the truth:

You’re only limited by your own choices, and the only rules you have to follow are the ones you want to follow. You’re the only person whose permission you need to ask for. You’ve created this life, and only you have the power to change it. If you’re sick of playing by someone else’s rules, it’s time to stand up for yourself.

Demand change.

At work. From your boss. From yourself. At home. From your spouse. From your children.

It’s your life! Stop asking other people for permission to live it!

Ignore the Noise

Few things in life deserve the attention we give them.

Most of the shit we concern ourselves with is rarely as important as the importance we give it. It’s just noise. It distracts us, it steals our focus and it robs us of our energy. While our attention is focused on the stuff that doesn’t matter, we lose sight of what does.

As a society, our values are being influenced by the media and advertising. The average person is exposed to nearly 5,000 ads each day! All of that advertising is working. We’ve become obsessed with wealth, material possessions, and celebrities. But these things are all just noise, and we don’t need any of it to have a happy life.

All we need to live a happy and fulfilled life is to ignore the noise and focus on what brings value to our lives. We need a purpose, not another product. We must simplify.

It’s time to focus on what’s valuable, and ignore the rest.

Other People. Stop worrying about what your friends, family, or complete strangers think about you and your life choices. The opinions of the vast majority of people you encounter in life don’t matter and have no impact on your life. Those people who do matter will love you for who you are.

You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.” ~ David Foster Wallace

The Joneses. It doesn’t matter what your neighbors own or where they vacation. Your neighbors aren’t there for you to compete against. It doesn’t matter if they have a new car, designer clothes, or send their children to a private school. Focus on what matters to you. Stay true to your values, and never sell yourself out just to “keep up” with someone else.

Gossip. Talking shit about someone else says less about them than it does about your own flawed character. Confident people don’t need to gossip. Consider your own shortcomings and work on improving them rather than using someone else’s misfortunes to prop up your ego. Engage in more meaningful conversations.

Celebrities. Society is obsessed with celebrities. So much so that there’s now a psychological disorder called Celebrity Worship Syndrome. Why do celebrities deserve so much of our attention? The answer is simple. They don’t. We should focus the attention we give to celebrities on our family members. Do you know more about the life of your favorite celebrity than you do about your father or mother? You might be surprised by the answer.

Fashion. Keeping your wardrobe “in style” is an exercise in futility. Fashion is fickle. Avoid the trends and chose styles that are timeless. Do you remember how sexy you looked in that trendy outfit ten years ago? Dig out some old pictures and ask yourself whether you’d be seen dead wearing that same outfit today. (I’m guessing probably not.) Be stylish but don’t worry about being in style.

If none of this matters, then what does?

Happiness. Being happy doesn’t mean you’re in a constant state of joy. True happiness comes from an internal sense of satisfaction and a feeling of contentment. While buying a new gadget might bring a momentary sense of fulfillment, that feeling is fleeting and never lasts very long. This is why happiness cannot be found in material possessions.

Health. When you’re healthy, the last thing you’re concerned with is your health. The moment your health is gone, life changes. And it can happen in an instant. It only takes one diagnosis to change your life forever. Don’t take your health for granted just because you’re healthy today.

“Without health life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering – an image of death.” ~ Buddha

Family. Our families provide us with a sense of belonging, and are a consistent source of comfort and emotional support. And while computers have given us the ability to keep in touch more easily, nothing can replace the experience of gathering together as a family. Spend as much time together as you possibly can.

Love. Being in love is the most intimate connection a person can make. You trust your partner without question, you share your most intimate feelings with them and you allow yourself to be completely vulnerable. There is no substitute for being in love, or for being loved by another person.

Community. We share this world with more than 7 billion other people and each of us has a responsibility to the communities in which we live; to make it a better place, to look out for our neighbors, and to help those in need. We all need to do whatever we can to make this world a better place than it was when we got here. Volunteer at the local library, pick up trash while you’re out for your daily walk, smile and say “Hello” to people you don’t know.

Everything else is noise. Do your best to ignore it.