Wants, oughts and whys

January 11, 2012

Creativity, Self-discipline

Don’t let wants become oughts. Don’t let what you want to do become what you ought to do.

When you want to accomplish something, if it’s worthwhile, it will require some effort – coordinated, structured effort. If you want to learn tennis or Photoshop, you may sign up for a class. Now, someone’s expecting you there at a certain time on a certain day. You may feel tired or uninspired or just not in the mood. The time may conflict with something else you want to do. Starts to feel like an ought.

Remember that you want to do this and why: I want to do this. I want to learn Photoshop. I want to know Photoshop so I can use it as a creative tool in personal projects and professional ones, too. I’m choosing to learn it.

Remind yourself that it’s still a want.

We have to work to get what we want and put some structure around that work. Make a plan. Set some goals for what you want to achieve. Then remind ourselves why we want it.

When I quit my job, lots of what were once wants became oughts because I didn’t have a job commitment. This blog is a good example. I nag myself: You ought to be posting twice a week now. I need to remember to ask why. Why should I post twice a week? Because you want to write an active blog. Because it helps you clarify your thoughts. It helps you connect with others and help others and keep a regular writing practice. Because it makes you feel good.

Yes, the structure and the schedule required to do the work to meet the goals to achieve what you want can be annoying and bossy. But ultimately, it’s a want. Every minute of every detailed step may not be precisely what you want at that moment. So remember to remind yourself of the larger goal and the why behind it.

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