YouTube is full of tutorials teaching straight haired women how to make their hair curly and vice versa. It is also full of tutorials on how to become thinner, more athletic, learn a language, earn more money, grow the perfect beard or peel an orange in one continuous spiral.
Some of these motivational videos are a great place to start your self improvement journey. But that's just it. When you are doing something simply because you were inspired by how green the grass is on the other side, it will only START you. It will NOT CONTINUE you.
The pattern is old news: we engage in an enthusiastic lift-off, gaining elevation, excited about the novel perspective, but eventually... once we reach cruising altitude... it turns out that this is a long haul flight, not the EasyJet commuter from London to Leeds.
So (because we are not actually on a plane, dhu...), at first turbulence, we drop the new healthy, progressive habit or journey. Only to feel disempowered, paralyzed by ideas unpracticed, chastised by our bad conscience. But we are no quitters! So, eventually, we start again. The next YouTube influencer, the next big solution, because this time, it's for real. We mean business. Until motivation dwindles again and we are convinced, that surely, this time, it must have been also someone else's or something else's fault.
Eventually life separates the wheat from the chaff, EasyJet from Etihad, artificial snow from fresh champagne powder: there are the kinds of people that turn motivation into vision and accept hardship and responsibilities, they embrace boring or taxing days, all of which will for sure come along for the ride. Just like that seat neighbour with no shoes on and a peanut allergy on that long haul flight. He's there, so these people find it within themselves to accept him, offer him some pretzels and ride it out. The other kinds of people - don't. They run, avoid, duck, hide, blame and shame. And this is not limited to others, they do it to themselves too. And of course, when I say they, I mean us, I mean me.
When all you have is motivation, there will always be something in the way of you truly growing (up). A geographical circumstance, an inkling of physical pain, a mysterious new food that makes you just too tired, a funny reddit post, an annoying trainer at the gym or a bachelorette party that makes you too hungover. Motivation is a feeble friend, it's, at best, a short term fire starter but it cannot be relied upon during tough times. It's simply too superficial.
But how to get from motivation to vision?
Ask yourself WHY...
Why does a particular interest hold my focus? Why do I want to do something? Because I want to be healthier? Stronger? Smarter? Make more money? Feel more stable?
Yes, that's fantastic. It really, actually, is.
But now, ask yourself WHY again...
Because you want to live longer? Because you want to feel more sexy? Because you want to one day have dinner with Barrack Obama after Michelle has happily remarried and he is intellectually and physically so smitten with you, he hires you as his personal advisor?
Ask yourself WHY? And FOR WHOM? And FOR HOW LONG? And WHAT WOULD STOP ME?And WHAT KIND OF PERSON DO I WANT TO BE? WHAT WILL BE IN 3 YEARS, 30 YEARS, and WHY AM I INSECURE? WHY DOES IT HURT? WHERE DOES IT HURT? And WHY? And WHY? And WHY? Over and over and over again, like that 5-year-old that wants to know why the sky is blue.
Burried deep down, under layers of painful relevation, lies some version of a vision for yourself. It will be fluid and sketchy and incomplete, but it will mean something. Maybe it is something you don't dare look at, or conveniently forgot, or didn't know had developed within yourself. Maybe it is even funny or surprising or more benigne than you thought. Either way, the best part is, it doesn't matter if your answers come from the heart or from the brain. It really doesn't. They will be inextricably melded in all the layers of answers because you can't get from one to the other, without truly appreciating both. After all, your working vision has to work for both your heart and your brain.
So... you know... don't be a dick. Don't be lazy. Don't fool yourself and thus, by default, coast on other people's efforts, resources and energies, who also satisfyingly provide you with plentiful excu