One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. This simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity. -Edward De Bono

Dragging Along: Living in Obligation

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During my sophomore year in College, everything began to drag. Every day felt like an obligation. On top of being swamped with work I didn’t want to do, I had to subdue motivation to work on my side project, Zaboodles. When I was doing school work, I didn’t want to be. And when I wasn’t doing school work, I felt guilty. Why was I paying ridiculous amounts of money to do something I didn’t want to do? The worst part is, this is all too common. People will tell you, “Yeah, school sucks but you need to just bore through it.” What?! Your telling me I’m paying near $100,000 dollars to just “bore through it”? That is the biggest load of crap. There are a million different pathways to the same goal; don’t let a false sense of obligation trap you in a single paradigm.

But I Need too…

You need to what? This is one of the most shocking paradigms embedded in Western Culture. It seems as if everybody has so much they “need to do”.  Experiencing our lives with a fundamental sense of obligation is ridiculous! It really starts to make everything feel like its dragging along.

I think this is an important concept to embrace: You have no obligation to live.

How did you react to that? For most, I notice a reaction filled with shock, anger, and frustration. But why? It shows that the sense of obligation is so deeply rooted in our identities, that we forget that we are choosing to live each day.

I need to work. Why? Cause I need to make money. Why? Cause I need to eat. Why? Cause I need…er…I want to live!

Our biggest “vote” in life is what we do. Our actions truly reflect what we want; because after all, that’s what we are choosing to do! Somewhere down the chain we loose site of this, and everything starts to drag. Life is much more invigorating when experienced through a lens of desire rather than obligation.

But What do I Really Want? 

After my sophomore year, I continued school part time. I wanted to take a break entirely, but the amount of backlash I received from family and friends discouraged my decision. The reduction in work load made my classes more enjoyable, and provided time to enjoy other aspects of college. I also had time to work on my side projects. I made step in the right direction. However, so many of my actions still felt obligatory. I couldn’t seem to shake it.

So, I decided to do some self discovery. I took the semester off of school, and started working for myself as a freelancer. My complete lack of “obligations” resulted in a  radical allowance for different avenues of action and thought. Already I have noticed life become more comfortable, enjoyable, and invigorating. I finally feel in tune with my desires and goals.

Aligning our Time Perspectives

In order to avoid the sense of obligation, we need to align our time perspectives. Often times we want to achieve a goal, but we don’t want to take the “perceived” steps to get there. For example, many people want to do well in school, but don’t want to study. Its important to remind ourselves why we are doing the things we are doing. What is the end goal? Are there other, more enjoyable ways to achieve the same goal? When you find yourself in a state of obligation, ask why you are choosing to do what your doing. Keep asking why until you finally respond with, “because I want to _____.”. Keeping your desires in mind can help provide motivation through tough parts of the process. And if you honestly find that every step of the way is excruciating, then you probably should reconsider what you truly want.

Ultimately, it is important to embrace that we have no fundamental obligations. Understanding this will give us a greater appreciation for our lives and the steps we take each day to achieve our goals. 

1 Comment.

  1. Mitchell Budden

    Love the article man, it’s easy to stray from your goals when you lose sight of why you started in the first place. Personally, the simple change from wording things “I want to do ____” rather than “I have to do _____” goes a long way in getting shit done. Looking forward to more of these.

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