June 1, 2015 by Dymphna 5 Comments

Do what you want, kid

Young boy, counting money and taking notes

We’re scared to live lives doing what we want, but without it, we’ll neither be successful nor happy.

“What would happen if you only did what you want?”

“What are you talking about Dymphna? I’d probably sit around on the couch all day masturbating and watching re-runs of Alf.

My life would go to pieces.”

Andy’s always good for a laugh. But he wasn’t entirely joking. He was feeling snowed under with responsibilities. A full-time plus job. Three kids under 5. Mortgage, insurance, the lawn that needs mowing. And to top it all off now the ‘fairy god-mother of property investing’ (his words) was telling him to get his butt into gear.

He was starting to feel worn out by it all.

His life was all work and no play.

And it was making him dull. Not dull to be around. But dull in himself. Andy had lost his sparkle.

And so when I suggested that he should do whatever he wants, he just laughed. I told him I was serious and he looked at me like I was nuts.

“What’s stopping you,” I said. “What would happen if you only did what you want?”

Ask yourself that question, and the answer is immediate and obvious. Your life would be a disaster. But look closely and you’ll probably see that the answer comes from a long way back.

Like something you decided very early on, and never questioned again. And now, the rationale for your answer’s been forgotten.

(If there ever was one!)

Look closely, and the logic probably works like this.

  1. Hard work is a key ingredient in success.
  2. Work, by definition, is stuff you don’t want to do.
  3. Ergo, success requires doing stuff you don’t want to do.

But let’s look at that. Is number 1 true? Absolutely. I believe it’s one of the iron-laws of the universe. You only get out what you put in.

Is number 2 true? Well, maybe. Maybe not. ‘Work’ is often stuff you don’t want to do, but not always. I mean, I love my work. Love it to bits.

So that means that 3. isn’t true. Not always.

Success doesn’t necessarily require you to do stuff you don’t want to do.

Think about that for a second.

Success doesn’t necessarily require you to do stuff you don’t want to do.

The implication is that it is possible to be successful only ever doing the things you want to do.

That means that there are two roads to success from where you currently stand. One involves doing things you don’t want to do. The other only involves doing things that you do want to do.

Which would you choose?

(And you do have a choice!)

I was reading an article the other day about a particular style of parenting. These parents would let their kids be the boss for one day every month.

On that day, there were no rules (within the limits of physical safety). The kids could eat whatever they want. Watch whatever they want. Do what ever they want. They were the boss.

And the parents had to participate in whatever activities the kids lined up.

Sounds like a disaster right?

But it didn’t work out that way. Sure, the first few times they tried it the kids ate heaps of junk-food and watched trashy videos.

But they soon got over it.

The soon realised that eating lots of chocolate makes you feel sick. And with mum and dad’s full attention, watching videos was a complete waste. Kids love engaged attention more than anything.

And so the kid’s higher expressions kicked in to gear. They wanted to eat their favourite meals, but since they owned the decision, they were happy to have healthy things like broccoli in the mix.

And they found ways to enjoy the company of their parents. They went out and did stuff. Or stayed home and made stuff.

And the parents were able to enjoy being led on excited and creative journeys.

Now this is a sample of 1, and I’m not sure what other conditions you need to make this strategy work, but the point is that we all seem to have this assumption about our kids, and about ourselves, that if the iron rods of control are lifted from our backs, we’ll become lazy and slothful and totally waste our lives.

Where does this view of human nature come from? Certainly not if you look around. The human story is the endless pursuit of creative expression. Art and science and jumping off cliffs.

(Perhaps it comes from the structures that control us?)

My point to Andy was, don’t buy into this story you’re telling yourself about your ‘true’ nature.

It is totally possible to do only what you want and achieve amazing things.

And I’d probably say that truly great achievements can ONLY come through doing what you want. Motivation is an incredible energy.

So use this yard stick to align your life. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. If you can’t let it go, then find that motivation that enables you to want to do it.

If you can’t find that motivation, then seriously, just drop it.

There’s no point living like a smothered child within your own life. You won’t be happy and you probably won’t be successful either.

Any one tried raising their kids (or themselves) this way?

Anyone experimented with letting the reins out in their own life?