You Can’t Have A Cupcake For 6 Months
Why rigid decisions set us up for failure
Have you ever walked by a wall marked with the sign “wet paint..do not touch?” Most people have come across this at least once in their lives.
Have you ever touched a wall with wet paint on it even though the sign clearly says you shouldn’t?
How about a box marked “Don’t look inside” and left out for all to see? Ever looked inside?
For some reason, you walked past the same wall every day, maybe even twice a day…and you never ever felt the need to touch it, until a sign said you shouldn’t.
A box will sit there on the floor in the break room for days and no one will bother with it until there’re are instructions to not look inside and then no one can help themselves and they look inside anyway.
Apparently, this is known as the Wet Paint Syndrome. Other examples include; Employees Only; Authorized Personnel Only; Do Not Step Above This Point; We Don’t Accept Checks; No Smoking; and others.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this syndrome. It’s just part of our nature and we have to live with it.
This may explain why rigid decisions don’t stick.
When you tell someone that they can’t have a cupcake for the next 12 months in their diet, you pretty much set them up for failure.
Anyone who’s ever been on a restrictive diet knows just how difficult it is to avoid the things you’re supposed to avoid. It’s like trying NOT to touch wet paint.
“Rigid decisions” are mostly impossible to stick to.
The truth is, life and nature don’t have inflexible lines. A forest fire doesn’t burn in a perfect square.
Life is fluid and always in flux. There’s always room to correct course, to change directions, to reevaluate, or to start over. There’s no reason to expect anything different from yourself
I found myself struggling with a “rigid” decision when I made a goal to write one article every day for a whole month. I also made the decision that it was gonna get done every day before 7 am without fail.
The moment I made that decision, it was as if some special “powers” came down to fight me.
As you can imagine, this didn’t go very well. I started sleeping past 7 am, I felt like a failure and the guilt turned into self-criticism which turned into inaction. Nothing got written.
And that’s when I had an epiphany.
Life isn’t like this. I looked back and noticed that every time I had made these kinds of decisions, I’ve always failed to live up to them.
Now, I can’t speak for everybody. There may be personality types out there that thrive on such decisions.
My point is, if that’s not you, there’s no use in forcing yourself to become someone you’re not just so you can fulfill some arbitrary goals that you made up.
If you’re the one doing the work, there’s no reason to “punish” yourself by making decisions you can’t live up to.
Some days, you’ll be in a flow state where you sit down and craft a 1000 words article in one sitting, barely blinking, fingers typing faster than you can think, and ideas flowing as if they’re being fed into your brain by an outside force.
It feels so effortless and natural. Minimal or no editing is required.
I wish it was like that every day but it’s not.
Other times, you sit down to write something or paint or shoot a youtube video but the flow just isn’t there.
You struggle to form words and sentences or you just can’t seem to find the right angle or colors for that painting or sculpture and it’s frustrating as hell
If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. It happens to all of us.
That’s the reality. Total 100% focus for hours on end is what we all want, but it’s not what happens. You can’t let yourself feel guilty because you can’t focus. It only makes things worse
You’ll be focused tomorrow or the day after and you’ll craft 6 stories in 4 hours or pain a masterpiece in one day.
Other times, you’ll struggle to even come up with an idea.
When that happens, leave it alone and get back to it another day.
Other times, you’ll write or create art in segments separated by hours of doing other things.
That’s fluidity. That’s how life is.
To expect anything different is to be unrealistic. Concrete goals, plans, and decisions are difficult to stick to because they go against nature.
Work with nature, and you’ll find that you do more when you make room for imperfections and accomplish more when you’re relaxed and unattached to your self-imposed deadlines.
When you create doesn’t matter. What matters is that you create.
Go Create Something.