I love the ‘training montage’ moments in movies. Like martial arts movies, when the hero gets his (or, very rarely, her) butt kicked. Hard. Leaving the hero practically dead, washed up, hopeless, beaten and broken. Then some kind person helps the hero, nursing her back to health. And then, training montage time! That’s when all the cool stuff happens. Learning to catch daggers when you’re blindfolded. Walking on tightropes and balancing on sharp sticks. Practicing combat moves (or, wax on, wax off), over and over and over, until the hero gets faster and faster and hits harder and harder. Doing crazy backflips and other basically impossible things for humans to do. And then, bring on the bad guys; it’s hammer time.
I’ve been waiting for my Real Life training montage to happen. For…..ummmm…..a long time. Like, 26 years or so. So, for longer than the LIVES (thus far) of my current undergraduate students, I have been putting off until “tomorrow” the most basic life challenges and opportunities for growth…..and granted, I’ve done other things, and some of it has been pretty cool.
But have I ever “really engaged”? Seen what I could really do? Rose to the challenges of my own desire for personal growth and authenticity? Or have I merely placated my desires with the fantasy of “that time in the future” — when I yell my battle cry, shake the dust out of my soul, and “really give ‘er”. And man, it’s gonna be GLORIOUS! I’m going to change EVERYTHING! Getting enough sleep, eating well, doing yoga and core work, getting fit and finally seeing what abs would look like on my torso, stopping procrastinating, keeping my apartment clean, updating my fashion knowledge, going for sunrise walks, meditating regularly…..and some other stuff that I’m going to do “someday”. Like learning another language. Playing the guitar. Drumming! Oh, and writing regularly. Working on publishing a novel. Keeping in touch with my parents and sisters. Being proactive in my homespace and decorating it. …..And this list is quite a bit longer, but I’ll stop here, because the problem is already painfully apparent.
There’s no way in hell I’m going to suddenly start doing all these things. In fact, when I try, I almost immediately give up, and convince myself I need to clean my sock drawer. Or….you know…..my phone has some pretty good video games on it….I mean, for a while now, I’ve been trying to just get regular at writing everything down in my day planner. And whew, it’s a tough one. It’s so much easier just to…..do….nothing….
Besides, when I THINK ABOUT and fantasize about how awesome I am going to be, “soon”, then it’s almost like I’ve actually done it. So, you know….maybe not this week. This week, given that I’m basically already there, I’m gonna just kick back and take it easy…..don’t put so much pressure on myself….Doing nothing (but thinking about doing something) is basically the same as doing something, right?
Ironically, when I teach the psychology of habit change, I argue that one should focus on one thing at a time. The change-everything training montage is, largely, an illusion. And in fact, is self-defeating. It’s like how when you’re going to diet “tomorrow”, then what the hell, eat that pie today!! And some brownies….mmmm…. After all, tomorrow’s everything’s going to change. And dramatically! You’re going to be a freaking diet ninja! (tomorrow….)
But no! Let’s take the red pill and see just where this rabbit hole of personal growth and self-improvement will take us. We’re probably not going to discover that we’re trapped in vats of goo with cables all over our bodies. But we might find out that we are not living very authentically. And that’s….well, that’s a pretty big deal.
So….let’s do this. For realzzz! If you are with me, then start thinking about your First New Habit. Let’s start DOING, not just contemplating.
My first habit?
That’s the topic of the next post. I’m going to break down for you a habit-change plan that WILL work. And we are going to embark on a real-life, actually-gonna-work-this-time, training montage.
So, let’s stop living in the Matrix, and start living somewhere way cooler. Like…..the Enterprise! For sure.
“Captain’s Log, Star Date 1722.8. I’ve instructed Mr. Sulu to lay in a course for the unexplored planet known as “Effective Habit Change!” (and we’re gonna plant a United Federation of Planets flag on it and rename it to something wayyyyyyy less lame…..like Zyrrggtxxi! Or….Linda?). Mr Spock believes, based on his careful analysis, that this planet will finally solve the emotional problems that hold back our species from becoming authentic and living their best lives. Sounds good to me!
And now, I’m going to sit here in my Captain’s Quarters, feet up, dreaming of the human-loving alien seductress who, surely, must live on that planet…..