I am a bit of a loner. I can be considered as a situational extrovert but when given the chance, I like to mind my own business and live in my cozy little head most of the time. Being an extrovert can be fun at times. However – not having scheduled alone time for re-assessing your position relative to your opponent(s) can be a novice error. No need to over-analyze – but careful inspection of your mental blocks can be an effective gateway to gaining mental clarity.
So what exactly are you supposed to do when you are alone?
Your not “supposed” to do anything and that’s the beauty of it. You get to forget about all the social constraints and peer pressure and ponder on whatever amuses you. It’s literally just you and the world. This is precisely why deliberately being alone can be one of the most effective incubators for creativity and aid you in uncovering some interesting insights about yourself.
If you go down the street and ask one hundred people if they were interested in becoming more successful, quitting smoking, becoming a millionaire etc. almost all of them will say yes, but what percent of these people do you think will actually achieve these goals? My guess is less than 2%. This is largely due to level of commitment – which usually depends on a sense of urgency and purpose. The thing is, manufacturing a sense of urgency on cue is really really fucking hard – but if you could figure out how to do it, you are at an advantage.
This is why the success rate among self-help junkies is generally unimpressive.
A lot of these high performance, productivity and success nonsense are catered to appeal a mass audience. You may feel like you are making progress – but that feeling is largely due to what I call mental masturbation. This is partly why some experts scrutinize the importance being secretive about your goals. Let me explain. When you tell people about your goals (regardless of how big they might be) and fantasize about them for a while – you have essentially started a simulation process in your mind that’s difficult to stop. In other words, your brain actually begins to believe that you have already achieved a particular goal – when in fact, you have procrastinated the entire time without a drop of action – or in some rare cases: the wrong type of action.
..but but..dilanka…I thought visualizing goals is a good thing!…it said so in “The Secret”!..
Don’t get me started on The Secret. Listen. Visualization is a fantastic mental tool. I agree. High performing athletes use it all the time before an event and fighter pilots swear by certain visualization techniques - but I am still not convinced that it’s being properly used by most.
If you are going to visualize anything, it should be one thing: you actually doing that which you are fantasizing about – specifically: the process that which will lead you to your end goal, not the end goal itself. So for example, instead of day dreaming about becoming a millionaire, execute and carry out your business ideas on a consistent basis and meet fear head on. Instead of day dreaming about having a six-pack – wake up early and go for a run. You get the idea.
That is the real point of visualization. Picturing the end goal and working backwards from it is important, but without the sum of all the small painful elements of any goal – it’s absolutely useless and admittedly why people get addicted to reading self-help and productivity texts. If you manage to engage in this process alone – it will have a bigger impact. Is it much more difficult to execute when you are not dependent on external factors (ie: friends, alcohol, drugs, etc) ? Abso-freakin’-lutely. Remember, I never said this is for everyone. This is only for those that are ready for sustainable change.
Ok. Enough Tangents.
Now, here are three things I would like you to try out:
1.) Start writing in a journal. – if you are not already doing so. I write about my deepest fears, my goals, why I hate certain people, philosophy, strategy, contradictory beliefs, observations. Whatever. This is incredibly powerful and you must do this one thing if you ignore everything else in this post. Don’t underestimate the power of journaling – it can and will give you mental clarity when you are faced with obstacles. It is vital that you are honest in your writing however. If you cannot be honest about your own thoughts, you are just begging to be lost in a maelstrom. Get a journal and get cracking. [I personally use Epica journals - but any type of journal will do.]
2.) Keep your goals ultra-secret. Do not tell anyone about your goals. Especially family and friends. Like it or not, those that are closest to you have the most influence in potentially poisoning your wacky ideas. In a world where mediocrity runs rampant, it is your duty to become excellent. You want to minimize any premature destruction of your creative ideas. [For Reading: Hugh McLeod is a decent starting point].
3.) Spend more alone time. This can be counterintuitive – but it’s a requirement if you are interested in figuring out the undiluted version of you. I know for a fact that he/she exists within everyone and one of the best ways to do is through conscious self-reflection. The pain you feel when you are alone is of the most purest and it will aid in you finding out the source of your discomfort. [Note: Not everyone has the same "pain" threshold(s) - so please don't push this too far, get help if you need it]
Those are just to get you started. Understand: Commitment to any goal is only measured by consistent action. Don’t feel bad about being an introvert – embrace it and make it your special time to work on your goals in an incredibly personal environment. The answers lie within and you are only required to welcome them with open arms. Before I wrap things up, for all the neanderthals that love to twist my words: Don’t confuse “alone time” with being a shy, introverted, agoraphobic, anti-social cave dweller – the above applies to only a certain subset of folks who need an occasional mental diagnostic(s) check.