Internal files

There is an ongoing list of desirable skills and attractive character traits being kept in your subconscious. For varying reasons, some real and some imagined, your current priorities do not align with this list.

Life is too messy, unorganized, and unpredictable for our priorities to align perfectly with this list. But every once in a while it's worth revisiting this list to make sure outdated beliefs aren't steering you in the wrong direction.

It's helpful to imagine this list as a dusty file cabinet of goals that squeaks each time you open its single metal drawer. Within the drawer are all your thoughts that begin with "I wish I could" and "I wish I knew that", each in their own beige colored file folder.

A new file is added to the filing cabinet anytime we witness something that inspires us in a very specific way. The exact conditions are difficult to put into words because of the many flavors of inspiration we experience.

There is a distinct difference between inspiration sparked by reading a weight loss transformation story and inspiration excited by watching a magician impress cute girls with a cool trick.

The same fleeting thought may enter your mind in both situations—"I want to learn how to do that!"—but only because English doesn't have a simple 8-word sentence for "This is moderately interesting and I like the idea of potentially accomplishing this feat, but I do not foresee myself dedicating a sufficient portion of time to this task in the near future. And magic isn't real."

As you thumb over the file folders containing false desires you will encounter your true desires, the tasks, actions, or accomplishments that would cause you to be genuinely proud of yourself if completed.

At first glance, some of these wishes will appear to be unattainable for you. Long, heavy goals, like learning a language or leaving everything to create a new life elsewhere, meet this criteria. Any temptation to write these wishes off as unrealistic is a sign they should more deeply considered.

We don't have enough time to pursue everything we want to be. Skills not only require an upfront time investment, but they also need to be maintained. If we are limited in quantity of skills we are able to retain, maybe we should be focusing on quality instead.

The real challenge of stomaching scary goals is coming to terms with cliche: our only obstacle in the way of achieving fulfilling goals is ourselves, because we often confuse long goals with difficult goals and convince ourselves that "I" am uniquely unqualified to accomplish anything meaningful.

  • I can't learn a language become I'm not smart enough.
  • I can't transform my body because I'm bad at physical activity.
  • I can't make friends because I'm not social.

A fixed mindset holds us back by convincing us that our identity is incompatible with what we want to do, or who we want to be. This invisible barrier keeps us from taking big steps towards big goals because we don't see ourselves as big enough people to accomplish them.

Instinctively shying away from the goals that would bring us the greatest satisfaction can be overridden with intention and patience. Intentionally challenge yourself with meaningful goals. Don't settle for what you think you should accomplish, chase something that would make you truly proud of yourself. Pick a heavy file from your dusty filing cabinet of wishes.

More from Jamie's Notebook