This weekend I was working on a little household project: cleaning out a spare bedroom so I could create a quiet reading nook, apart from the distractions of my office and the noise of the TV in the living room.
The spare room was filled with boxes of miscellaneous unidentified junk, that we had shoved there when we moved in some 3-4 years ago and hadn’t really touched since. And as I was looking at one box, I realized it had rather a lot of financial, legal, and medical paperwork in it.
At that moment, I sighed and thought to myself that I couldn’t just put this box with the others I’d moved into closets or the garage. All this material needed to be sorted, filed, and properly organized.
And then suddenly it occurred to me that this was “prerequisite” thinking. I was withholding from myself, by saying “you can’t have your reading nook until everything else is perfect.”
Now, from your perspective, it’s probably also easy to see that if the paperwork hadn’t been used or filed in so long, it certainly didn’t need to be! But if you focus on that aspect, you’ll miss the point – a point that can apply to anything you’re doing in your life, not just cleaning and filing.
The point is also not that you should instantly gratify every desire you have, and never hold off on a reward until it’s earned. But in my case, the “earning” was the cleaning process itself. I didn’t need to put any additional requirements on it.
It’s easy to get in the habit of adding prerequisites, because they let us put off working on our goals – work that’s often scary! In addition, we may have an inner task master who wants to ensure we don’t get anything until we “deserve” it.
Luckily, neither of these conditions applied to my project. I took a deep breath, and then let it go, feeling a brief chill down my spine as I realized – yet again – that I didn’t have to withhold good things from myself until I “deserved” them. Then I put the box in a closet, and went back to work.
Today the nook is finished, and in a moment I’ll be going there to read. But I wanted to take a moment to share these thoughts, and remind you to check your thinking. Are you putting prerequisites in the way of your dreams? Are you saying you can’t do them because there’s something else you have to do first?
Do you believe you “have to” finish school, wait for the kids to move out, get out of debt, clean up your office, or do anything else before you can have even the smallest piece of your dreams? Don’t. Life is every moment, and when you put your dreams off, you’re missing it.
Next Time: Want a despair-ectomy? How about a fear-otomy? Based on the interest readers have expressed on these subjects, I’ve decided to hold a live teleconference, during which I’ll coach you and others through the process of switching off fear, despair, frustration, or any other negative emotion – permanently. There will be no charge to participate, but it will only be open to those who own a copy of You, Version 2.0 . The date and time for the session isn’t nailed down yet, but it’ll probably be the second weekend in September. More details will follow in my next post, but if you don’t have a copy of You, Version 2.0 yet, now’s definitely the time to pick one up!