Getting your Decider to work with your Dreamer
Getting Your Decider to Work With Your Dreamer
Everyone makes resolutions this time of year: “I’m going to live a healthier lifestyle. I'm going to watch less TV and spend more time with family and friends. I'm going to save more money.”
Sadly, for most of us, these vows are abandoned before the end of January.
Resolutions are important because they come from the part of us that aspires to a better life. They’re easy to make, but difficult to keep. Here’s a perspective that will give you a fighting chance.
Most of us think of a resolution as a kind of declaration: “This year I resolve to quit smoking.” But a resolution is more than a declaration; it's like an inner contract with yourself. You ask yourself to do something in the future—like forego dessert, watch less TV, put aside money each month—and in the future you either do what you asked, or (more commonly) you let yourself down.
We call the part of you making the request “the dreamer” because it’s the part that sees the possibility of a better life and wants you to take concrete steps to achieve it. The part of you that takes action on the request (or fails to) is called “the decider” because it decides whether to fulfill or deny the dreamer's requests.
How is the relationship between your dreamer and your decider? If you’re honest, it’s probably terrible. For most people, the decider almost never honors the requests of the dreamer. One of the reasons why this happens is that the dreamer's requests always require the decider to make a sacrifice. When the waiter hands you the dessert menu, it’s the decider who has to say “no thanks.” It’s the decider who has to switch off the TV and spend time working on your resume. And to save money, it’s the decider who’s going to have to give up spending money on something it wants.
We’re all much better at declaring we’ll make a sacrifice in the future than making the sacrifice in the present.
Consider this perspective. When you make a contract with another person and fail to fulfill its terms, you pay a price for it. You might get sued, your reputation might suffer, or at the very least you’ll generate ill will. That’s why most people honor their contracts with other people.
In contrast, we violate our inner agreements with impunity, as if there are no consequences. But the truth is if you don’t honor the contract you’ve made with the dreamer, there are severe consequences. Think of what life has been like for the dreamer. Every single year it has renewed hope—and every single year you let it down. If you fail to make even simple sacrifices like skipping dessert or setting aside a little money, why should it share its deepest desires and aspirations with you? Gradually, it stops hoping, stops asking, leaving you with a life that’s a tiny fraction of what it could be. Life becomes a graveyard of broken promises.
The good news is this is reversible. No matter how many times you’ve failed, you can turn this around. If you begin to make these sacrifices—honoring the dreamer’s requests—it will begin to believe in you again. If you honor the small requests, like eating less, exercising more, watching less TV, it will begin to reveal its bigger and more exciting dreams for a better life.
I’ve never seen it fail. When the decider puts its faith in the dreamer and obeys whatever is asked of it, you discover and fulfill your ultimate purpose in life. Instead of a graveyard of broken dreams, your life becomes a shining example for those around you.