Why Don’t We Do the Things We Say We Want to Do?

By Trevor McKendrick 👋 - Have you read my free newsletter?

We want to start a successful business, but we don’t talk to customers.

We want to get healthy, but we eat crappy food & don’t exercise.

We want to date interesting people, but we don’t make ourselves interesting.

Most of you have already learned that we each are the “writers of our life script”. We control our decisions, and we can get what we want by making good decisions.

So how much more of a tragedy is it for you to

1) Have the knowledge that you control your destiny,

2) Be born in an era when that’s even possible, and yet

3) Still fail to take action towards the things you desire?

I don’t mean to depress you, I just want to make it clear that the stakes are high.

We have a responsibility to be awesome.

Be vs Act

As soon as you’ve set a goal as a destination you’ve failed.

The moment you attain the goal you won’t be satisfied because 1) it won’t be as enjoyable as you thought, or 2) you’ll be looking for the next thing, or 3) your friends will have something better by then, or 4) etc. etc.

We’re never happy once we get the goal!! Why do we continue to think we will be?

We’ve been told so many times that goals are important. Our screens are full of cliches like “a goal not written down is only a wish”, as if putting ink on a piece of paper somehow makes you less fat.

Placing our hopes on destination goals is kind of like acting: I have to fake doing the thing I say that I want. (WTF?)

I want to weigh 140 pounds so I have to fake being healthy. (“I don’t like running but I’ll do it…”)

I want to make $10 million, so I have to fake being outgoing (“I don’t like selling to acquaintances but I’ll do it…”)

If the whole time you’re walking towards your destination you’re suffering, and the destination won’t even make you all that happy, why are you doing it?

The things we think we want – the goals – are merely the outputs of living well. They give us a path to march on, but they aren’t the point themselves.

Completing a destination goal is only the cherry on top of the deep, real, and personal satisfaction that comes from being the person you want to be.

The payoff of being good

When I lived in Oaxaca, Mexico for 2 years many of the people I lived with didn’t take the opportunity to get great at Spanish. Not me: I wanted to be awesome.

And so I was. I studied for hours every morning, going through tedious grammar lessons and quizzing myself on vocabulary.

I made flashcards to study when I wasn’t at home, which was most of the day. And when I wasn’t talking to someone, like when I was riding the bus, I’d read the billboards I saw out loud to myself to practice my pronunciation.

And the payoff? Sure, I achieved the destination goal of “fluency in Spanish.”

But nothing felt better than walking around in a totally foreign country, surrounded by people with whom I had nothing in common, knowing I could talk to any one of them perfectly.

I’d even painstakingly taken the time to learn some of their slang, and so I often was the 1st white person they’d ever heard speak certain phrases.[1]

In short: being excellent felt amazing. I became the person I wanted to be, and therefore could walk around proud of myself.

“That’s who they are. That’s what they are about.”

When Steve Jobs introduced the “Think Different” campaign he used Nike as an example of world class marketing:

“Remember, Nike sells a commodity. They sell shoes! And yet when you think of Nike you feel something different than a shoe company… What does Nike do in their advertising? They honor great athletes, and they honor great athletics. That’s who they are, and that’s what they are about.”

Nike’s identity is so strong that we all know things Nike wouldn’t do. Nike’s not going to get into, say, the sugary drinks business, even though I’m sure they’d make a killing.

But it’s not even a temptation for them. The “decision” isn’t even something that ever gets made or considered, because that’s just not who they are.

We all know that person who is super healthy. The “gym rat.”

That’s all they talk about, that’s how they think of themselves, and God forbid they ever skip a day at the gym.

We mock them on social media but I’d argue that we’re mostly just jealous.

Not because they’re always more fit and better looking (which is true), but because they have a strong sense of who they are, and what they are about.

They can walk around satisfied knowing they’re being the person they want to be.

And so whether their destination goal is to weigh 140 pounds or 300 pounds is irrelevant. They’re the ones becoming awesome.

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