Mental Masturbation

I have been in previous years a man of procrastination and excessive caution. I told myself I was being smart and thinking things through. I told myself and others that I was merely waiting for the right time to move, the optimum moment to strike. It’s not hard to waste years of one’s life waiting for the right moment. Millions upon millions of people are doing that at this very second. Sooner or later though you cannot escape the reality that though you make yourself look busy, filling your day with planning, lists, and research; you are ultimately doing nothing. You have surrendered to your fears and cowered in the bunker of procrastination. What you are doing is delaying the decision to act. You’re putting off change and steering your own life into stagnation.

 

I cannot even list all the people I have heard complaining about the quality of their life. They go on and on about how boring it is, how pointless it seems and unsatisfying. They wistfully talk of plans and goals they want to achieve over beers and back yard cookouts. They tell you all about how they’re going to make it big and change things. And then predictably most end their speech with the same anti-climatic proclamation; “I’m just waiting for the right time.” Some are waiting for better circumstances to come, for a better economy, for better weather, for better, reviews, everyone’s waiting for something better but few are doing anything to make it happen. Oh they say they are. They tell you all about saving plans, and patience and a guy they know that knows a guy and so on. They’re not doing anything though, not at all. They’re stalling, and covering it up with words like responsibility, adulthood, being smart, and planning.

 

If you are one of these people, tell me how long have you been planning your big move? Better yet ask some of your friends how long they’ve been listening to you talk about doing this great thing that’s going to make you great. The answer may surprise you. I’m willing to bet it’s been years maybe even decades. What do you have to show for it? What have you accomplished in all that time? If your answer is nothing, than you my friend may just be a serial procrastinator. You may be guilty of filling your life with a never-ending parade of research, thought, and discussions all aimed at getting you nowhere but resentful, and regretful many years from now lying on your death-bed. You will be one of those lost souls lamenting about the good old days and what you could have done and had.

 

Fortunately it’s never too late to change, and it’s as simple as just shutting up. That’s right part of your problem is you talk too much and do too little. Stop whining, stop complaining. Stop telling everyone how you would do it, “If only you had the chance.” Just shut up. There is a well-known aspect of business, war, and life, that those who talk the most accomplish the least. While words may never lose their power and impact, the fact remains that people respect those who lead by action, not pretty talk. Aspire to be that person of action in your own life. If you dream of being a fighter, go fight, you may lose but you’ve done it, and keep doing it. Hang out with better fighters; emulate what they do and how they train. If you want to write than write and write some more, than when you think you’re done do it again. Send your work to everyone, every publishing house you can think of. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking because you have a blog or articles on a hosted site that you’re doing enough. There’s more and you probably know this but fear of rejection is holding you back. You probably tell yourself you just have to be patient and wait for a following to build. Great writers’ my friends build their own following. They give their work away to anyone and everyone without hope of profit. They do whatever it takes to get exposure.

 

This brings me to another point are you doing whatever it takes? Do you go without sleep, subsist on Ramen noodles and walk to save gas? If you’re not doing drastic things to achieve your dream chances are you’re just going through the motions. You’re putting on a good show, but it’s not fooling anyone. There is a caliber of dedication possessed by those who achieve their desire that borders on zealotry. The world and the internet in particular are filled with so-called experts who constantly give advice to others on success, without having any of their own to show. There’s also a plague of those who think because they have studied a thing and a people that they are somehow experts on that. Unfortunately there’s quite a big difference between observing something and living it and the gulf between the two is immense.

 

I can sit here and tell you about procrastination and how to escape it because I have done it. I cannot tell anyone how to succeed in their chosen field because all I know is the life I live. I know how to make progress on my goals because I work on it every day. Your dreams are your own and the responsibility for making them a reality is your own too. It may sound like I’m preaching that you shouldn’t think about what you want to do. This is far from true. You definitely need to put some thought into what you want. However focusing on the how is not the point. The point you need to concentrate on is the point itself and the goal. Plans are great and an effective guide to your goal, however the reality of life is that it is fluid and plans rarely survive long. What you need is something flexible and workable, a general idea that can be refined into a specific target. This way if obstacles come, you can adapt to go around them like water goes around a rock in a river. It doesn’t batter against it trying to beat it into submission it slides around, under and over it, continuing on its way. Here’s something you may not have known, as water moves around obstacles its velocity actually increases and so will the speed of your success if you stay flexible.

 

Let me break this down a little further. Imagine you are a man at war. Your unit has been tasked with taking a certain patch of ground by nightfall. Now your commanders have formulated a plan and its taken days to perfect it. Now part of this plan requires that your unit secure a bridge before the enemy can destroy it. The bridge is vital as it is the only one over the river between you and your goal for miles. Now imagine that on the way to your mission the helicopter you are in has a mechanical issue and must land for a few moments to fix it. In that time you spent n the ground, the enemy has taken the bridge denying you access across the river. Your plan is shot, and command is calling for the mission to be aborted. Do you quit or press on? In war plans seldom go as they were intended. Situations constantly change and modern warriors must be quick thinkers and even quicker decision makers. Procrastination on a battlefield leads to death.

 

You could have used the helicopter to cross the river, swam it yourself, blown the bridge to occupy the enemy while you moved around them. The point is there are many possible ways to get to your goal. If however, you had given more significance to the perfect plan than to accomplishing the mission; than you would never have succeeded. Your plan was narrow. It failed to allow for change, and by its nature ignored the fundamental truth of life, things change, constantly. There comes a point when planning, figuring, dreaming, and wishing, become mental masturbation. Yeah it feels great at the time but ultimately it leaves you unsatisfied and no closer to happiness than when you started. You can recognize the truth of the situation; life is short and not guaranteed. You can either decide today to start going forward or you can continue on wasting time and hiding behind excuses and rationalizations. Your life is your own. However I do ask that if you have decided to continue on in denial and wistful imaginings of a better life, please do those of us who have decided to make something for ourselves a favor; shut up and keep your cynicism and bitterness to yourself. The world doesn’t need it and neither do those of us who are out here trying to conquer the world.

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