Your dream life.

It looms in the corner of your mind as you plug away at projects, cake layers onto your to-do list, and set aside the someday-stuff in favor of whatever task is urgently blinking at you.

There’s a fresh of breath air that you’re missing out on, somewhere out there.

At the end of your work day you sink into the subway seat as the train careens through the pinball machine chaos of Manhattan, through dark rat-infested tunnels that usher people back and forth from the rat race you’re more familiar with.

You burst back into daylight and cross the river before rattling into Brooklyn.

The train screeches to a halt on the raised platform above a bustling crosswalk, and empties out like a tipped jar of marbles…

Finally, you’re home.

Exhausted, you still have a thin sliver of inspiration left to “get something done” this evening. Something for your someday.

You make a cup of black tea and light a basil candle for a moment of reprieve before crawling into a pile of pillows with your laptop…

 

Today you had a vision, and you want to make it real.

You saw yourself on a plane, sun rays reaching the ends of the earth through the window as the ground below transitioned from toy size to larger than life. You were landing somewhere tropical.

Somewhere beautiful.

Somewhere new.

You left the plane with nothing but a smartly packed carry-on and sparkling eyes.

The nature of your trip? It wasn’t business, nor was it pleasure… because you had no reason to differentiate. In that brief vision, you had it all figured out.

 

Your job? You were the boss.

Your office? It was wherever you wanted.

Your friends? You had friends in every city.

Your to-do list? The only thing on your to-do list was to relish in a world where everything’s within reach, if you just get your shit together and reach.

 

Ahh, you sip your tea.

Back in the real world, you open a new browser tab to look up tickets to paradise and lay the groundwork for an upcoming escape.

After all, even if you haven’t mastered location independence just yet, there’s nothing like travel to remind you that there’s a whole world out there, and anything’s possible…

 

What happens next is a little less inspiring.

You end up getting lost on Pinterest looking for travel-friendly capsule wardrobes, clicking a vaguely interesting article on Lifehacker

Sweeping the floor and doing the dishes, arranging the magnets on the fridge…

Flipping through a stack of magazines your roommate left on the table…

Opening the front window to see what that weird noise is, cleaning your inbox for a few minutes before getting overwhelmed and frustrated, and then…

Netflix.

Why do we set aside the things that make our hearts soar in favor of the daily grind, silly distractions, and mind numbing activities?

 

Why aren’t you on a plane right now?

There’s a good reason, but if you’re going to keep reading, you’ve got to promise that you’re not going to let it defeat you anymore.

Ready?

For one thing, everyday this-and-that is a lot less scary.

There isn’t a whole lot of risk in doing your laundry, re-organizing a shelf in your apartment, or sorting emails all afternoon.

Completing little tasks inspires a flicker of gratification, and while we’re essentially just staying “busy”, we feel, for the moment, satisfied that we’re getting something done.

The modern curse of being endlessly busy is nothing new. You’re guilty of it, and so are your friends and coworkers.

It’s the reason we roll our eyes and say “I’m sooo busy” when someone asks how we’re doing, instead of saying something interesting, like what we’re actually working on.

This is the reason we’d rather kill time on petty tasks around the apartment than meet up with an inspiring friend.

Getting dressed, leaving the house, having an actual conversation, being engaging, potentially controversial… maybe even *gasp* getting inspired?

Maybe tomorrow.

This frustrating behavior is hard to break. But why?

 

News flash:

You’ve got a lizard brain.

Yes, it’s true.

The human race has come a long way since the hunting and gathering days, but there’s a little piece of your brain left over from a more primitive time, and it’s only concerned with the fight-or-flight response you learned about in elementary school.

This brain segment is commonly referred to as the “lizard brain”, technically referred to as the amygdala.

It puts up a massive amount of very tricky resistance to convince you to avoid risk at all costs… even when those risks could land you in the epicenter of earth-shaking happiness.

Steven Pressfield pulls apart lizard brain resistance for us to thoroughly understand in his must-must-must read book, The War Of Art.

Seth Godin, one of my personal heroes and web mentors, speaks about it in almost all of his books, and in this inspiring video. From his blog:

“The resistance is the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise.

The resistance is writer’s block and putting jitters and every project that ever shipped late because people couldn’t stay on the same page long enough to get something out the door.

The resistance grows in strength as we get closer to shipping, as we get closer to an insight, as we get closer to the truth of what we really want.

That’s because the lizard hates change and achievement and risk.”

Sounds grim, right?

But hang on…

 

Don’t throw in the towel!

Yes, we all have this primitive brain mass that prevents us from living life without resistance.

No, that’s not a good reason to throw up your arms and say, “Well, so much for living a magnificent life!” Rather, this factor is what separates the mediocre from the amazing.

At any time, we can stop being mediocre and start being amazing.

Recognizing these patterns and really learning what triggers resistance can result in life changing new habits. It’s our choice.

 

Call yourself out.

Being more aware of this resistance and calling it out (perhaps giving it a new name? Dirty Sally or Gertrude Nasty?) is the key.

You might even consider keeping a journal or marking a white board every time you find yourself doing something stupid instead of making moves toward your goals.

The resistance will do virtually anything it can to stop you from making the changes you want, getting on that plane, and emerging from each day with an ear-to-ear grin… but there’s good news:

You’re not mediocre, and you don’t have to let this primitive part of your physical being stop you.

 

Manifest your dream life. Get on that plane.

Let’s pause the Netflix cue, draft some action steps, and set the world on fire.

Maybe your “plane” is a business plan or finally opening that Etsy shop.

Maybe it’s scheduling that appointment with an editor or buyer to show your collection of hand-dyed dresses.

Maybe it’s taking the first step toward de-cluttering your life, so you can really start living.

Maybe it’s writing a first blog post, putting in your terrifying two weeks notice, committing to location independence, attending that life-altering seminar…

Whatever it is, do it.

Forward motion is the way we learn and, the way we grow, the way we stay inspired and see what works as we manifest the life we want.

Now is the time.

No one in the modern world is laying on their deathbed saying “I wish I had serial-watched just one more sub-par tv series on Netflix…”

Action is everything, so we’re giving you some homework.

For this primer, we’re handing you over to the masters.

Comment below and let us know when your homework assignment is complete.

Michelle Christina Larsen is the Co-founder of Day Job Optional. Strong coffee, strong wi-fi, and absurd inside jokes are some of her favorite things. While a self-proclaimed side project addict, writing remains the ultimate focus of her life. After a decade of freelance writing in the fashion industry, she's teaching fellow freelancers how to dominate their niches and make full-time incomes online.

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