On your way to your goals, you’ll often find that your desire and motivation fluctuate. This is inevitable and is impacted by three fundamental beliefs about yourself and your situation. As you discover them below, evaluate where you stand in regard to each of them.
The three factors crucial to your progress are alternatives, methods, and beliefs. The most beautiful thing is that you can start immediately using these to make greater progress and I’ll show you how!
The first place that desire comes from is alternatives. This factor is rooted in what you see in the world around you and what you see as your future. If you’re in a place of pain and you don’t see or acknowledge alternatives to your current situation, you will consent to your current situation regardless of how bad or simply complacent it is. This complacency is one of the most detrimental inhibitors of your progress. Because you cannot imagine an alternative reality, you become pacified with your current reality. When you see an alternative reality as possible, it’s hard to be content with your current one.
For example, let’s say that you’ve lost your job and are struggling to put food on the table, but in your mind’s eye, you see an alternative where food is abundant, and finances aren’t a constant worry. It could also be that you’re comfortable but see a higher place of attainment. This basic belief-without an associated means to get there is often called “hope”.
Either way, recognizing an alternative to your current state is where desire starts. If you are never in a place to see these alternatives, you never build the desire to reach them. The key is contrast between where you are today and where you could be.
These alternatives can be simple yet profound in nature as in the example of Shin Dong-hyuk in the book Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West.1
Shin Dong-hyuk was born into Camp 14, a political prison in North Korea. His entire life was controlled within the walls of the prison. He had no education and no insight into alternatives, he was never exposed to an alternative way of living or being, so he had nothing to desire.
Within the camp, food rations were meek, so food became the one thing Shin Dong-hyuk desired more than anything else. He simply desired more of it, going to great lengths to obtain just a few extra grains of rice.
If his desire to get a few extra grains of rice was strong, imagine how strong it was when Shin learned about hamburgers from another prisoner.
With the knowledge of hamburgers, Shin now had an alternative. Not only was there an alternative where food was abundant, there was an alternative where food had variety. This simple contrast created enough desire for Shin to eventually escape from Camp 14 and make it to South Korea. He was the first person born into a North Korean prison to ever escape to the West.
To use alternatives to build desire start by surrounding yourself with a diverse group of people. Most people tend to spend their time around those most like them, this tendency restricts access to alternatives.
By surrounding yourself with others from diverse backgrounds, you expose yourself to alternatives. Peer groups are often the leading causing of prison. Certain old friends and family are not just reinforcers to re-offend but they do not provide the opportunity to see life without drugs or crime. Having a support group that shows what post-prison success looks like is crucial.
Additionally, you can try new things and visit new places. Anything you can do to expose yourself to different people, places, and experiences will reveal alternatives. With exposure to enough alternatives, some of them will create a contrast so great that you cannot ignore it.
When you see alternatives to the life you’re living, you build desire. However, that desire will be amplified when you learn the methods to reaching that alternative.
Alternatives are a great start to build desire. However, alternatives will be more powerful when you can see a way to reach them. The second factor to desire is methods.
Methods are the ways in which an alternative can become your reality. If you cannot see ways to attain an alternative, the alternative will not build desire. You might have a number of false starts at different things, but they will never get far enough to build sustainability.
A lack of methods most often surfaces as criticism and pessimism. You may learn a path to a new way of living, but rather than finding hope in it, you find all of the flaws and criticize it. When this is the case, you should explore why you are choosing to criticize. You should also explore more than one path to reaching your desired alternative.
Shin Dong-hyuk could have been exposed to an alternative where food was abundant and diverse but if he had no understanding of how to make it reality, his desire would have faded. During his time in Camp 14, Shin witnessed many attempts to escape, some of them successful.
Because of this, Shin Dong-hyuk knew there were methods to reach his desired alternative. He was able to map out a potential path to his alternative.
The biggest setback to methods is when you surround yourself with too many methods. When this happens, it can be difficult to choose a course of action, which will dampen your desire. As I talk about in my book, this can be called paralysis by analysis.
You can use methods to build your desire, by mapping out potential paths to your desired alternative. Talk to others who have done it, be realistic, and map out a potential path to success. By seeing a specific path to your desired alternative, it will build your desire to pursue it.
The more you believe that the methods will produce the desired alternative, the greater your desire to pursue it. However, it is one thing to believe that a specific method will produce the desired alternative, it is another to believe that you can carry out those methods and attain your desired results.
It is possible to see an alternative reality and to believe there is a way to attain it, but not believe in yourself. In this scenario, you doubt your personal ability to carry out the methods and achieve the desired alternative. Therefore, belief is the third factor to desire.
A lack of belief most often surfaces as fear or doubt. You may truly desire a different reality and believe there is a path to reaching. However, at the same time you may doubt your own ability to carry it out. You might also fear trying your hardest and still failing.
You don’t have to believe you can chart the course to an alternative perfectly, you only need to believe that you can learn from failure and adapt as necessary.
Belief in self is powerful and can overcome deficiencies in methods. When your belief in yourself is strong enough, you have enough confidence to move forward, even when the path forward is uncertain. This is because while you understand that the path may not be the perfect one, you are sure that you can adapt and adjust as necessary.
If you have an alternative that you desire and know the methods to obtain it, but don’t believe that you yourself can carry out those methods and produce that alternative, your desire will die. You must believe that you, as an individual, have the power to carry out the methods and obtain the desired alternative.
Which of these aspects do you feel like is your Achille’s heel? Which is stopping you from achieving your inner desires? If you have difficulty seeing alternatives, plan new experiences or join a new community to gain perspective. If you have difficulty finding methods and a good vehicle to get you to your goal, then do some research or solicit the help of those who are further along. Lastly, if you lack the belief, then don’t be afraid to spend some extra time on introspective thinking and/or solicit the help of someone who can help you see your potential whether that’s a coach or a confidant.
Use this fundamental knowledge of desire and progress to push yourself to the next level. I have full faith in you, my friend. If you need a little something more, then reach out by email or social media and we’ll get you one step closer to your potential.