The second deepest human fear is the unknown. The first is unknown suffering, or being in ongoing pain without understanding why.
Our objective in life is split, and a direct response to those two things: to avoid pain, and pursue pleasure. But mostly, it is to try to make the unknown known. It’s why we look to stars and palms and spirit guides, cards and natal charts. It’s why we’re hung up on finding our “soulmates,” our dream jobs, our perfect towns and cities.
The truth is that we put an unbelievable amount of stock into what the world can tell us about where will be down the line, when the answer is so plainly in front of us.
Perhaps that’s what we’re running from.
If you tell me what you did today, I will tell you where you’ll be in 10 years. Not because you are destined to stay where you are. Not because you’re incapable of change. Not because you are doomed to repeat the past.
I can tell you where you’ll be in a decade because the subtle behaviors in your daily routine — and whether or not you stick to them — are the building blocks of your future life. I can tell you where you’ll be because your words are telling me. I can tell you where you’ll be because you will ultimately become exactly what you are. “Character is fate,” as it were. Your life will grow to reflect precisely what’s happening in your head.
You are mapping where you’re going to be in 10 years, you just don’t realize you’re doing it.
People tell you where they’re going to end up all the time, you just have to pay attention. They tell you they want to start families, travel more, move. They tell you that they’re going to be successful, or they tell you that they’re going to stay at the same job until they retire.
They tell you that they’re unhappy, they show you that they’re content. They stay in relationships despite reasons they shouldn’t, proving that they will probably continue to do so in the future. They start businesses and scrap them, and start again. They try to write and either give up or keep going, despite their resistance.
They gradually give up, or they gradually get driven.
It all happens so slowly, you don’t even realize it. And that’s the danger of it all: you do not wake up one day and decide “this is the day I ruin my life.” No, that’s not how it happens at all. It happens slowly. It happens through the smallest wrong choices, made constantly.
It happens through what you become.
A book you read this weekend can change the way that you think for the next four decades. A savings account you start today can help you leave your job in five years and pursue what you really want. The small seeds of effort you plant into your brand, your business — whatever — today will be the garden that grows tomorrow.
What you are doing now is foreshadowing what you’re going to be doing later. That’s all there is to it.
Write down exactly what you did today. Did you work? Did you rest? Did you argue? Did you feel fatigued? Did you eat right? Did you chip away at your creative project? Pretend you lived this day every day for the next 10 years. Where would you be? Healthier, more fulfilled? Sad, more complacent? You decide this now.
I can say this so confidently because there’s something about human behavior that you should know: it’s a lot steadier than you realize. Erratic decisions are tipping points, they aren’t random outbursts. People default to the path of least resistance. They do what comes most comfortably to them.
That’s why they tell you to do what you love: if it feels effortless, if you like it, you’ll be able to do it constantly. If you can do it constantly, it can grow.
But what they don’t tell you is that you can change your future by changing your day. You can recondition yourself to a new comfort zone, one that contains all of the habits you need to bring yourself where you want to be down the line.
If you want to be a writer, write today. If you want to be in shape, exercise today. If you want to be a cook, cook today. If you want to stop fighting, show peace today. If you want to change, change today.
The world does not offer us a new start, a fresh hand, once we reach a certain age or milestone.
The achievements of our lives aren’t random. They aren’t spontaneous. They are tipping points, breakthroughs that occur after hours and days and years of the same work. What you don’t realize is that everything you do — consciously and unconsciously — is creating your life. What you think is creating your life. If you want a different future, make a different day today.