Magic Thinking

Forget magic. Real accomplishments require hard work.

“What’s missing, what we’re really looking for, is magic. Without realizing it, we want that momentary pleasure or excitement we feel to be a passageway into a whole new world—a world of ease. Unfortunately, it’s a world that doesn’t exist. Reality requires us to face three things: pain, uncertainty, and the need for constant work. No one, no matter how famous or rich, is exempt from these requirements.” ~ Dr. Phil Stutz, “Addiction and Magical Thinking”

Hard work is required.

Are you prepared to do the work required to succeed in reaching your BIG goals? Make no mistake – the Excelerated life is not achieved without effort. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s boring. Many times, you’ll want to do something else. There will be times when you can’t tell that you are making any progress at all – you may even seem to be regressing. At times, we want to be able to wave a magic wand to override the iron law of cause and effect – to have our BIG goal automagically, no effort required.

But deep down, you know that is not possible. If you accept that now, and understand deeply that your actions (or inactions) have a direct bearing on your achievements, you’ll become increasingly better able to take the steps you must take to reach your goal.

There will be mornings when you are sorely tempted to hit the snooze button rather than get up and exercise. Times when you stare at a blank page struggling to put words on the paper. Days when you just want to eat whatever’s handy and not have to take the time to prepare a healthy meal. Occasions when you are sorely tempted to skip your routine, “just this once”. That is the danger of magic thinking. In this time when instant gratification isn’t fast enough, we want to have what we want, and we want to have it now, and we want to have it for little or no effort. Just like magic.

Small steps.

When you were first born, did you stand up and walk right away? Well, you don’t have a lot of muscle tone when you’re first born, so let’s say you lay around and rested up for a year or so. Then when you were 12 – 14 months old, did you decide one day it was high time you got up and got busy, so you just got up and walked on your first try? Obviously, not everyone can walk — some people cannot walk, either due to injury or other physiological reasons. But even those who can didn’t do it on the first try. We all had to learn through many attempts — making mistakes, making adjustments.

You moved from crawling to toddling to walking to running. You didn’t jump from lying about to running. And you don’t have to take gigantic leaps toward your goal. As a matter of fact, that is usually counterproductive. That is why we frequently talk about breaking your BIG goal down into tiny, tiny steps – “stupid small” as Stephen Guise tells us.

Then you make these tiny steps into a routine, such that you begin doing them without thinking. Before long, these steps have become a habit, and you are on your way.

The magic key.

“Bad habits are easy to form, but hard to live with. Good habits are hard to form, but easy to live with. And as Goethe said, ‘Everything is hard before it’s easy.’” ~ Brian Tracy

The magic key is this . . . there is no magic key. Hard work is required — but not forever. By breaking the behaviors necessary to accomplish your goal into tiny steps, then turning them into habits, you work hard at first, but then let your habits do most of the hard work. It isn’t magic, but it doesn’t have to be hard forever.

Action items.

1. Acknowledge that you sometimes fall into the pattern of magic thinking, wishing and hoping that you can have the benefits of your goal without the work.

2. Accept that you are going to have to do the drudge work and the hard work and the boring work at times.

3. Anticipate these feelings and decide in advance how you will deal with them when they crop up.

Never give up.

We all have daydreams from time to time of conquests and accomplishments achieved without any effort on our part. (It’s one of the reasons so many lottery tickets are purchased.) But daydreams don’t often lead to a life of flourishing, of well-being and purpose. Real accomplishments are made by doing the small tasks and taking the small steps, day in and day out. Never give in. Never give up. Do the work, as consistently as you possibly can. That is embracing the Excelerated Life!

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Excelerated accomplishment — achieving meaningful objectives — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life, a life of well-being, meaning, and purpose.

Guise, Stephen. Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. CreateSpace Publishing. 2013

achieving goals

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