A traveling salesman pulls into a rancher’s yard to ask for directions. The kindly old rancher invites the salesman to come and sit on the porch for a spell, and have a glass of lemonade. The salesman accepts.
As they chat in the shade, the salesman hears a dog whining and barking and putting up an awful fuss. He asks the rancher what’s the problem with his dog.
“Poor fella’s sittin’ on a nail,” the rancher responds.
“Well, why doesn’t he get up and move?”
“Well,” the rancher drawls, “I guess it don’t hurt enough yet.”
2010 was a tough year for a lot of people. I, for one, did more than my share of complaining about it, but less than my share of taking action. It seemed to me that the pain of doing something difficult was worse than the pain of staying stuck. There was no big emergency to force my hand – just the gradual erosion of my finances and my sense of wellbeing. Like cooking a live frog, slowly but surely.
I had ideas for things I could do: write a book, get my healing practice going with more clients, and stuff like that. When people asked me what I was up to, I didn’t want to tell the truth (which was pretty much nothing) so I told them what I wanted to do. I told them my goals. And that helped me hide the truth a little while longer. It helped me lie to myself about actually making positive changes (rather than just thinking and talking about it).
I’ve heard it said that the best way to achieve your goals is to tell as many people as possible. The theory goes that this will help keep you accountable, and will also signal others to support you where they can. Unfortunately, when the theory was tested in a psychological study, it turned out that people who share their goals with others are actually less likely to achieve them. Here is Derek Sivers in a TEDtalk to explain how that works:
So if you’re like me, and want 2011 to be better than 2010 (please, God, please), then don’t give yourself the satisfaction of telling a story that isn’t true. Instead of talking about it, we just need to suck it up and do something.
Because there is no hope for a better future if I’m not doing something right now to make it happen.