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Ben Michaelis, Ph.D. Headshot

Are You Trading Now for Then?

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Time is running out. Seriously. I'm not just being an alarmist. I mean it. Right now -- even as you read these words, you are losing time. Stop reading this and get started. Okay, fine if you insist that this article is just too gripping, you can finish reading this article but that's it. Then it's time to get doing (that's not a typo).

As a clinical psychologist with experience working with people who are feeling stuck in their creative lives, I can tell you that even if it is dressed up in nuance or different disguises, almost all of the problems that people have with doing/making/creating/expressing themselves come down to one thing. It is not a lack of talent, ability, resources, or intention. Instead, it is about one deceptively-simple exchange that people make every single day.

The problem is trading now for then.

When you put things off for later, "when you have time," what you are doing is making a trade. You are exchanging the now for the then. When you do that, now becomes then and there is never a now, there is only then. Make this trade enough times and is always, "then," and never, "now." Soon there won't be enough "now" left for you to do what you were meant to do.

If you want to write that novel/compose that opera/build that building/make that (fill in the blank) you can do it, but only if you do it now. You do not need more time in school developing techniques; you do not need more research at the library to ensure that your protagonist's moustache style was appropriate to the era, what you need to do is to do. You need to try, make mistakes, learn from them, and move forward. Regardless of what your passion is, the song remains the same and can be summed up in four simple words:

Do Now. Details Later.

The anxiety of indecision and indecision of anxiety is far more cumbersome to your spirit than the process of revising, reworking, and rebuilding. Doing something, doing anything, reminds you of the most important asset you have: you -- and your capacity to do, make, and create.

So, now that you are nearly done reading this (and maybe you have even passed it along to a friend or two who can use the inspiration) put it down and don't pick it up again until "then."
Go to it!

Oh, and when you're done, let me know how it all turned out.

For more by Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.

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