People never seem to change, do they? They always seem to stay the same. Doesn’t it seem like some people hit a spot somewhere in their young adult life and get stuck where they are? You’ve seen these people, they’re family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and year after year they seem exactly the same. Dressing the same, talking the same, complaining about the same things. They’ve just been that one person ever since you’ve known them.
What happened to growth?
We gradually trap ourselves in a rut. It doesn’t happen overnight, could take years in fact, but by the time you realize you’re trapped, it’s near impossible to free yourself. Most of us follow the footsteps of our parents and oftentimes make the same exact mistakes they did. For most, they get stuck in their ways and go on to live a mediocre life. For others, it takes a very dark turn into drugs, alcohol, bad relationships. And for a select few, they realize they’re walking in their parent’s footsteps and decide “This ends with me”! For many who will go on to live a mediocre life, change will happen all around them, but it will be all external and they will accept it as a part of their identity. But more or less, they will remain the same exact people for the rest of their lives.
My parents are Indian immigrants. Dad was a military brat and mom grew up in a middle-class household who was always afraid to lose it all. This made for an interesting childhood. Although both parents worked steady jobs and we lived comfortably, we never got past comfortable. It’s been years now and my parents are still the exact same people they were since I have been able to think for myself. Still, hard working people, living in comfort, but sometimes comfort is what’ll kill your dreams.
As I got older and started experiencing life for myself, I tried my hand in college, dropped out, and started working in a warehouse. This was supposed to be temporary, but I got comfortable with a steady paycheck. Before long, years had passed and I went from this 18-year-old kid picking boxes on a conveyor line to a 30-year-old office manager. Between those years, many things happened, some good, some bad, but somewhere in those years I got stuck in a rut. Before long, every year started feeling exactly like the last. Years started passing by like weeks, I was getting older, but nothing around me was changing. Although I had promoted in my career and gotten married, I was still the same person on the inside.
“We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” – Oprah Winfrey
We all have great things we want to accomplish
It wasn’t that I didn’t have any ambition, there were all these great things I wanted to do. When I began working in the warehouse, people would come up to me and ask me my life plans and if I was going to college. Foolishly I’d tell them everything that I wanted to do and see their impressed faces and get showered in compliments. There was this feeling of motivation and accomplishment I got when in fact I had done nothing and would do nothing. It just felt great filling my ears up with compliments. Again, I did none of those things I said I would.
It wasn’t until recently I discovered a secret in achieving your goals…keep your mouth shut. Telling people about your future and goals feels great, but that’s about all you get from it, a feeling. You’ll get this almost high feeling talking about all the great things you’re going to do and the people listening often inflate your ego. Why wouldn’t they when you’re telling them such impressive things? They’ll tell you how great you are, how smart you are and walk away thinking you’re a genius.
You’ll walk away feeling excited, motivated, even accomplished after receiving all those compliments. All those feelings you’re feeling are false and what will ultimately keep you from making any progress towards your goals. Your brain just checked off this goal in your mental checklist and is telling your body that you no longer need to worry about this task. Your brain thinks you’ve done all these great things and all those “happy chemicals” it’s releasing, is tricking you into thinking that you’ve achieved your goals and you no longer need to concern yourself with this.
What if you just began working and told no one?
Imagine for a second that you just button your lip and get to working on your goals without making a peep to anyone. Then one day in a casual conversation someone asks you what you have been up to and you tell them that you’ve spent the last few weeks creating an online business and got stuck on web design so you are researching some solutions. Now you’re telling them about a goal you’re making progress on. People like that and will praise you for progress, not inflate your head over talk. People will see you’re actually taking action and become curious bystanders to see where it goes, and you are likely to continue to progress and achieve your goal. I am sure you’ve heard it’s about the journey, not the destination. This applies here, in the beginning just begin.
“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” – Les Brown
But people aren’t always kind to pay compliments
People will not always praise and compliment you. Sometimes they may completely shit all over dreams with their own opinions and insecurities. Sometimes on purpose, they don’t even realize it. In the beginning of your journey, your focus is to just begin, be consistent, eventually leading to the right people to notice. As you advance in whatever you choose to do, you will want to get better at it and improve your work, which is when you’ll seek out feedback and critique.
Let’s say you would like to write screenplays, your first step to beginning is to start writing. You do not need to tell anyone what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, this only matters to you. As you progress, you will pick up books, read articles, follow blogs and people all helping you grow as a writer. You will work daily, you will run into failures, life will happen, but you will keep your mouth shut and carry on.
Eventually you’ll have a few screenplays written and you’re wanting to see your next one turned into a feature film, and that is when you seek critical feedback. By that time, you’ll be surrounded by the right people to give you that feedback and help you grow. You wouldn’t seek that feedback on day 1 would you? You’d get discouraged and give up on the spot.
We all have dreams and ambitions, no matter how big or small. Somewhere in our early adult years we get stuck and let the external define our identity. You want change, you want growth, you want out of this trap of a rut. Unfortunately, very few will go out and seek it, but if you’re a part of this few and want to see true success in your life over the next year. Just begin, and KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.