You don’t need more motivation.
You don’t need to be inspired to action. You don’t need to read any more lists or posts about how you’re not doing enough.
We act as though we can read enough articles and Pinterest quotes and suddenly the little switch in our brain will push us into action. But here’s the thing that nobody really talks about when it comes to success and motivation and willpower and goals and productivity and all those little buzzwords: You are as you are until you’re not.
You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best. That’s just how it happens.
And if you ask me, all we really need is this: permission to be wherever the fuck we are when we’re there.
You’re not a robot. You can’t just conjure up motivation when you don’t have it.
Sometimes you’re going through something. Sometimes life has happened.
Life! Remember life? Yeah, it teaches you things and sometimes makes you go the long way around for your biggest lessons. You don’t get to control everything.
You can wake up at 5 a.m. every day until you’re tired and broken, but if the words or the painting or the ideas don’t want to come to fruition, they won’t. You can show up every day with all your best intentions, but if it’s not the time, it’s just not the time. You need to give yourself permission to be a human being.
Sometimes the novel isn’t ready to be written because you haven’t met the inspiration for your main character yet. Sometimes you need two more years of life experience before you can make your masterpiece into something that will feel real and true and raw to other people.
Sometimes you’re not falling in love because whatever it is you need to know about yourself is only knowable through solitude. Sometimes you haven’t met your next collaborator. Sometimes your sadness encircles you because, one day, it will be the opus upon which you build your life.
Logically, we all know we can’t always bend life to our will. And yet we continue to try.
We try so hard to manipulate and control our lives, make creativity into a game to win, take shortcuts to success because others say they have, process emotions and uncertainty as if these are linear journeys.
You don’t get to game the system of your life. You just don’t. You don’t get to control every outcome in an attempt to resist the uncertainty of something beyond what you understand. It’s the very basis of being present: showing up as you are in this moment and letting that be enough.
But we don’t do that. We fill every minute with productivity tools and read endless lists on how to better conquer our natural, human impulses. We forget that key concept: that we are as we are until we’re not. We are the same until we’ve changed.
We can improve things a bit — for instance, by practicing healthy habits and living our lives in a way that fosters growth — but we can’t game timing. Timing is the one thing that we often forget to surrender to.
Most of our unhappiness stems from the belief that our lives should be different than they are.
We believe we have control — and our self-loathing and self-hatred comes from this idea that we should be able to change our circumstances, that we should be richer or hotter or better or happier.
While holding ourselves accountable is empowering, it can often lead to a resentment and bitterness toward ourselves that none of us need. We have to put in our best effort and then allow whatever happens to happen — and try not to feel so directly and vulnerably tied to outcomes. Opportunities often don’t show up in the way we think they will.
What you need is not the motivation or inspiration to create the life you want. You need less shame surrounding the idea that things are not necessarily perfect. You need to stop listening to people who are in vastly different places in their lives tell you that you’re just not doing or being enough.
You need to let timing do its thing. You need to see lessons where you see barriers. You need to understand that what’s happening right now becomes inspiration later. You need to see that wherever you are now guides and shapes your identity later.
There’s a magic beyond us that works in ways we can’t understand. We can’t game it. We can’t 10-point list it. We can’t control it. We have to just let it be, to take a step back for a moment, stop beating ourselves up into oblivion, and let the cogs turn as they will.
One day, this moment will make sense. Trust that.
Give yourself permission to trust that.
This piece originally appeared on Medium and is reprinted here with permission.