The Most Powerful Words I Was Ever Told
“I don’t know what ‘I want’ means.”
That’s what my mom used to say to us as kids. And it would piss. us. off. At first, of course, we would – somewhat confused by how she didn’t know what it meant – try to explain it to her. But somehow she never seemed to get it. Then we would get frustrated. And now, twenty-something years later, I’m getting it.
Honestly, it was pretty genius.
Despite having had her remind me of this story countless times over my adult life, it wasn’t until very recently that I realized how important the concept is. I started listening to myself…
There were so many times I caught myself saying, “I want.” I really want to be more fit. I really want to speak French. I want to understand how to code. I want to read more books. I want to write a book. I want I want I want…
But who was I telling these desires to – some magic fairy that would make them come true if I just said “I want” enough?
I’ve got news (maybe surprising to you as it was to me): there is no such fairy. Notifying the universe of my bratty desires was just not enough.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I am a huge believer in “putting things out into the universe.” In fact, I’m not just a believer – I know it to be true in the deepest part of my soul. But – and this is a huge but – putting things out to the universe and even believing in the power of the universe is not enough. You have to put in the work.
This is not a new concept. You have heard this before.
Let me repeat it again anyways:
You have to put in the work.
I began recently to realize what a chip I had on my shoulder. I would look at all the many forms of success that people around me were enjoying and, frankly, I would turn into a hater.
Fitness is a perfect example of this. First of all, there are many people (most people) that work incredibly hard to look as fit as they do and be as healthy as they are. And then there are those freaks of nature that just look incredibly fit without having to do much of anything. Having been in the modeling industry for almost two decades now, I have been surrounded by both. But, of course, I chose to focus on those who won the “genetic lottery” and didn’t have to do much of anything. I would sit there and hate and hate and hate on them, so mad that I didn’t win that lottery.
What a waste of energy. And what a dumb choice to look at them instead of to the people who chose to put in the work and, thus, were enjoying the results of their hard work.
So now things are changing. The gig is up (is that how the phrase goes?). Every single time I find myself saying, “I want”, I stop and I ask myself:
“Ok, you want it. Are you willing to work for it?”
If the answer is no, I contentedly move onto something else, more aware of myself and what I want out of life.
If the answer is yes, I start researching. I start asking. And I start doing.
And you can do the same.
So, Mom, I’m sorry it took me a few decades to understand what you meant. But I want to say thank you for dismantling the words “I want” for me and showing me that those words won’t get me anything that I actually want unless I’m willing to put in some serious and consistent work. At 30 years old, I finally understand what you were doing, and it is changing my life more than I can say. I love you.