There are so many times in life we humans find ourselves wanting life to be different. We’re all familiar with this phenomenon: we want our life to be a certain way and then one day we wake up and realize it’s not the way we want. Here’s a short list of ways we sometimes want life to be different:
- When we’re grieving, we want the pain to hurt less
- When we’re irritated, we want to be mellow
- When we’re having conflict, we want harmony
- When we’re ill, we want to be healthy
- When we are unemployed, we want to be employed
- When we’re estranged, we want to be connected
- When we are sad, we want to be happy
And yet, as human beings, we are frequently and spectaculary bad at changing our life to be better. We tend towards repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Not only are we poor predictors of our own happiness, we are also incredibly stubborn, and this makes for a terribly bad combination.
So today, instead of suggesting we all sing kumbaya and go pursue our goals, I’m going to suggest we all figure out how to pursue the opposite of our goals. Because sometimes when we figure out the opposite of what we want, the pursuit of our goals becomes suddenly and dramatically clear.
Here’s an example of that. Chris Guillebeau writes books and a blog about how to live an unconventional life. He writes about how to design your own non-conventional life in order to be happy. And this week he published a blog post about “How To Be Unhappy.” I thought this was pretty brilliant, because when we force ourselves to figure out unhappiness, we can’t help but also figure out happiness. When we figure out how to achieve the opposite of our goals, that becomes the exact reverse roadmap for how to achieve our real goals.
- If you want to be married, make this list: “Best ways to stay single.”
- If you want to be employed, make this list: “Best ways to stay unemployed.”
- If you want to get in shape, make this list: “Best ways to remain a sloth.”
You get the point. By listing out the opposite, you will be creating your own reverse roadmap. So here’s another example I’m going to do in real time.
One of my own current goals is to devote more time on a regular basis to my creative writing. I want to eliminate the things that distract me from my writing time. My goal = more time spent on writing, so here’s my list of things I can do to keep myself from writing:
- Take a nap
- Shop online
- Shop in stores
- Call or text friends
- Waste time on Facebook
- Buy new music on iTunes
- Clean the house
- Do yardwork
- Redecorate the house
- Walk the dog
- Browse the web
- Go grocery shopping
- Go to a movie
- Make a new music mix for running
I could expand this list for quite a while, but you get the point. These are all the things I could do INSTEAD of my writing. Therefore, I just need to turn this list around and rename it: “Things I am not allowed to do when I’m supposed to be writing.” Instead of my To-Do List, this becomes my Not-To-Do List.
See how easy this is? I’ve just written a long winded post about how you can use reverse psychology to your own advantage. Yes, it’s that simple.
Making the list is not all that hard. The harder step is the first one: figuring out your goal and picking just one thing you want to be different in your life. Not 10 things, not 20 things, but just 1 single thing. Do you want to be happier? Healthier? More educated? Better employed? Do more traveling?
My 1 single thing is to spend more time writing. What’s your 1 single thing you want to be different in your life?