From what do you organize your actions, communications and decisions in your life? You have short-term gratifications, impulses, feelings, and needs that want immediate attention. Simultaneously, you have goals, aspirations, and longings that demand attention. Most often, what is short-term doesn’t serve the long term. Eating chocolate cake while choosing a vision of normal weight are incompatible. Buying a new car that demands an expensive monthly payment may be incompatible with the longings for financial independence eventually. Short-term impulses are trivial, while long term dreams are significant.
As you compare the two aspects, immediate and long-term, imagine a small frame-like square on the inside, and a larger frame like square around the outside. The larger frame of reference is values, aspirations, and longings, while the smaller one is composed of short-term gratifications, delights, and impulses. Think of these like a camera lens; zoom range vs. a panorama shot.
Which frame do you choose to organize your life from?
1) What matters to you most?
2) What you immediately want to gratify? This is a fundamental choice. When you live in the creative orientation, life in the reactive of now isn’t as dominant as the long-term conditions you deeply desire.
So how do you delay gratification? Answer: it’s like a love-hate relationship.
Instead of having to use will power or self-manipulation, notice the gratification impulse just as it is. Everyone has these impulses. The motivation involved is to seek relief from discomfort. The key is in what you do about them, or not. Anything long-term, a choice you’ve made, is obviously more important. This comes down to secondary and primary choices. Secondary choices are actions that you take in favor of the goals that you seek and choose (primary choices). Herein lies the discipline of the creative process.
When you choose to operate from a more senior goal long-term, you don’t deny your immediate needs, you just say, “So what.” You have them; that is normal, so just notice them. Yet, you’re more inclined to look past the sudden itch when you have a more dominant place to go that truly matters to you.
So there you are – driving by McDonald’s and that hamburger speaks to you with every temptation inviting you to enjoy a hamburger. How do you offset this?
First, you remember what you seek to create. Second, you notice the current urge you have. Then, you say, “I choose…” You move toward what matters most, as you notice your susceptibility to this sudden urge, along with the super-normal allurement to the burger. What is the secondary choice? Find a better alternative to suit your longings to create optimal health. Remember, you’re not organizing your actions around your feeling and urges. You’re choosing to organize your life around what matters to you!
But let’s say you find yourself pulling into McDonald’s anyway. Your mind is talking to you with words like “You owe it to yourself. You’ve been doing so well. You’ve earned this…!” You discover that as you move toward what you seek to create long-term, you begin to notice yourself justifying “blowing it” as you become more successful. What you didn’t recognize is that you haven’t been in the creative process since the beginning of your efforts to generate change. You’ve been problem solving. Your motivation has been to remove an unwanted problem, being FAT! So when you take action to get thin, the thinner you get, the less your original actions are depended upon. This gives rise to reverting to the same habits as before that generated the FAT!
However, when you’re in the creative process, the motivation to eat healthy doesn’t stop. You’re not eliminating anything; instead you’re generating an outcome that you love enough to see it exist. When you eat better to create optimal health, you build habits around optimal eating. The more you move favorably in the direction you want, the more motivation you generate. It’s like a snowball gaining natural momentum. Therefore, you can drive by a McDonald’s and be less susceptible to the burger, because you’re motivated differently. You outgrow the itches and urges with bigger business to attend to.
A word of advice – creating is not problem solving. Creating is about bringing something that matters to you into life that didn’t exist before. In this way, as you choose what matters to you, it’s about looking past the sudden hunger to eat junk, or follow an impulse at the moment of truth, and keep on keeping on with your goal! And the underlying generative motivation to create naturally gives rise to consistency and continuity of action, which then helps a new involuntary habit become automatically competent. Remember, creating is a habit. Creating is not motivated by what you want to get rid of. It is motivated by what matters most to you. Make this the centerpiece of your life building process.
Copyright 2013 John Davidson