“Day by day, we build our lives, and day by day, we can take steps towards making real the magnificent creations of our imaginations.” – Gretchen Rubin.
As soon as a baby turtle slips out of the cracked egg shell, it tries to get into the sea as fast as possible, trying to not get snatched by some sea gull. It’s an instinct, something programmed deep inside its genetic code.
Contrary, us humans aren’t sole stimulus-response apparatuses. Roughly, it can be said that animals behave, whereas humans act, meaning we are free in our actions and decisions.
(Though not as free and rational as we think we are. Check Wardens for further information on biases holding us back. Also, some don’t believe in the concept of “free will”,…as not only life, but also this blog, would then be quite pointless, I’m a disciple of the “we do have our own will and are free in our actions” church. Update: a recent study fortified, that we aren’t subjected to our subconscious mind and our brain’s signals, thus we actually are able to vault our “early brain signals”, and thereby circumvent “predetermined” actions.)
We might be kept back from people in key positions, so called gate keepers, and two types of constraint. Direct, and indirect constraint.
Direct constraing is an immediate physical influence, with the goal of someone either doing, or not doing something. Someone locks you up because he or she is super jealous and doesn’t want you to see other people. Someone sedates you. Someone puts you into chains, and drives with you to the cinema.
It is a form of absolute constraint, though our free will isn’t influenced in any way. The guy or girl locked up wants to break free, the sedated person wants to wake up, and the guy in chains sitting in the cinema having to endure another terrible Nicholas Cage movie would rather watch Dead Pool. What direct constraint does, is that you can’t execute your free will.
Here, the only thing that helps is removing the source of the constraint. Breaking out, getting woken up by a doctor with an antidote, and escaping your chains. Hence, if you feel to be the victim of direct constraint, you might need help. Contact good friends, or the authorities.
Indirect constraint works a little different. The goal of indirect constraint is to change your free will. The pattern is as following: Do A or else face the consequences B. Your parents might love deprive you if your grades aren’t goo great. Your colleagues might mob you, because you don’t want to join in snagging about the new strange coworker. Your relatives threaten to break off the contact to you, if you won’t borrow them some money for their new car.
In all these cases, you can realize your free will, but you have to live with the consequences.
Gatekeepers can lock or block certain paths we want to take. When looking at the corporate world, they often are working in the law or HR department, and it seams their main job is to say no. As perceived „authorities“, they are quite good at allocating people their designated place. As we can’t always influence other people to our own benefit, we sometimes need to find unconventional workarounds, like climbing over a fence, if the gate is locked. If you happen to be caught, you again have to live with the consequences. In other cases, it pays off to be persistent. Joane K. Rowling was brushed off by 11 publishers, until finally Harry Potter was printed.
1. You are free to do what you want. (By realistic means, i.e, you won’t be able to alter the laws of physics.)
2. Sometimes, you need to find workarounds or other unconventional strategies and measures to surpass locked gates. Being persistent pays off.
3. Everything has consequences.
The german author and manager Reinhard K. Sprenger sums it up with “price comparison”.
To calculate the price, we weigh up the consequences and possible benefits of our actions. On the one side, we all want to life a happy and fulfilled life, on the other side not many people are willing to pay the price.
Out of convenience, we use excuses like “I would really like to meet up with you, but next week I have a big exam”, “I have to stay in the office until 7 p.m. and finish this project”, “I love you, but I’m married and can’t leave my partner.”
Suppose the date would be with George Clooney/Gerald Butler, or Jennifer Lawrence/Daisy Ridley, do you think the student would take time for them, and even risk failing the exam?
(Dear Jennifer/Daisy, if you happen to read this, we should definitely go to the zoo and watch some penguins. They are awesome. Shoot me an email.)
What if the partner of the person working the long hours had a car crash, and is transported into a hospital. Yes, quite a bitter scenario, but do you believe the project would still be that important that he/she wouldn’t immediately drop everything to see their partner?
In the 3rd case, the spouse is just more important to her/him. It might be because of the house, the kids, the life insurance,…there may be numerous cases, and everyone himself has to decide what’s important for them.
For you, right now nothing is more important than reading this article. Just let that sink in for a while. You might call this bullshit and protest that you rather would be lying in a hammock on the Maldives, having a sip from a fresh coconut.
Suppose you aren’t a victim of direct constraint right now, i.e, aren’t locked up somewhere. Right now, you could walk to the next travel office, get the next flight, and within some hours you would be on a nice white sandy beach. If it should be late at night, and the travel offices closed: the internet is open 24/7.
Generally speaking, we could constantly drop everything, quit our job, get a loan, and fly to exotic places, but we don’t. Right now, the price we would have to pay is way to big. We often wait until the perceived pressure is high enough, and forces us to act.
Because of this series of price comparison we undergo every day, we make up our decision.
By deciding constantly, we also choose the consequences step by step.
Maybe you’re overweight, didn’t have sex for a long time, already study for 15 semester without and end in sight, or are just generally unhappy with your life. These are all consequences from your decisions and actions.
The cookies (and beer) just taste too good, you’re not hitting the clubs and are afraid of talking to strangers, you are hitting the clubs too often and skip learning,…
Based on these decisions and consequences, bit by bit your life forms.
Alas, your life today is the way you chose it to be.
(Of course, our freedom of choice has it’s boundaries, we don’t choose to be robbed, get involved into a car accident, or hit by a lighnting strike, and so on. More to that, here: Commitment and the boundaries of free choice.)
Hence, if you are unhappy, the best time to take action is now!