Impulses vs. Plans

How to know what to follow

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Are you missing out on something unique and unrepeatable when you ignore your impulses?

Are you then suppressing your freedom of expression and living? Are you wasting the magic moments in life?

Do you sabotage yourself when you don’t follow your plans? If you fail to plan you plan to fail?

Does following your impulses turn you into the cliché of a flighty, unreliable person and does following your plans make you a cold hearted robot?

It all might seem harmless done once or twice. But all little things done repeatedly become habits and a way of living, whether we realize it or not.

Here’s an example. Every time you don’t honor a commitment that you’ve made to yourself or someone else, it’s a message to yourself and to the world around you that what you say can’t be trusted. It can prevent you from achieving your goals and eventually lead people to not take you seriously. Even worse, you could lose self-confidence.

Following your impulses often means you are sacrificing your future success for immediate pleasure. And then you don’t even get real pleasure by following these impulses. You’re more likely to feel guilty and regret it afterwards.

I mean, try eating a chocolate bar every day for a month, if chocolate is what gives you pleasure. Or replace chocolate with whatever gives you pleasure. If you say this thing makes you feel good, you should experience great happiness by the end of the month, right? If not — this is not what makes you happy.

The difference between pleasure and happiness is the difference between short-term and long-term gratification. It is also the difference between impulses and plans.

Try working towards your dream for an hour every day. Watch how that would start changing your life.

It’s not that simple, you think. You are right, it’s not.

You might not know what your dream is. Then you need to invest an hour daily in clarifying that first. Meditation, thinking, writing, reading, talking to people or just trying out different things could all help you achieve clarity.

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Seen on a wall in MindSpace coworking space, Berlin

You might not believe you’ll ever achieve it. Here’s what a great artist — Vincent Van Gogh — has said in this relation:

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.

There is no other way. There are no overnight successes. And, if you want to be successful, you’ll have to learn to discard negative thoughts and impulses. Negative feelings can only cause you to be stuck or go backwards. As obvious as that fact is — negative thinking causes bad things only— we ignore it too often. Think positive and believe in yourself. You can do that in a heartbeat, starting right now.

You might not have an extra hour every day. This is probably what most people are thinking. Our day-to-day lives are full of so many annoying tasks that have to be done, people wanting things from us, obligations, time-wasters et cetera. If you feel like you never have time to work on your dreams, I’ll tell you what. It’s because you are sleeping at the time you should be working on your dream.

If you need time for yourself and your dream, that time is in the early morning hours. You can’t achieve greater focus and clarity at any other time of the day. At 5a.m., your mental energy is the highest and there are zero external distractions, as most of the world is still asleep. So grab a coffee if you need one, and start working on your big ideas. Then, guess what, the rest of your day will go better than every other day you woke up at your usual time. Try that just once. You might get addicted right away and join the The 5 AM Club.

The earlier you rise the less opposing forces to your self control and the more momentum you’ll have to overcome the inertia.

— Craig Ballantyne, The Perfect Day Formula

That will help you lead a proactive, instead of reactive life. Living reactively is strongly connected to following every impulse. The urge to check your emails, to text someone something, to respond to everybody’s requests immediately and fill your days with all sorts of things that are unimportant on the large scale.

Short-term satisfaction does not bring long-term satisfaction. In fact, the opposite is true.

When you think and act only in the current moment, you are living a short-sighted life. Life is not just the current moment. If you’re not aware of the importance of this fact and act oblivious to its consequences, you might end up generally unsatisfied.

It is critical to make the time to look at the bigger picture on a regular basis. A moment and a day are just fragments of life. Seeing the bigger picture means seeing life in its entirety. It means thinking in bigger time spans and planning the life you want. When you do that, you’re less likely to be surprised of how time passed and how little you managed to do in it.

Be honest with yourself. How productive are you after 8pm on a scale from one to ten? Most people are drowning in inefficient activities in the evening and are getting up too late in the morning. Take that wasted time from the evening and invest it in your morning. Plan and work your dreams with the greatest clarity of thought. It will make all the difference.

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How much better on the scale of 0 to 50 do you feel after reading this article?
Answer with claps, please! ::)

Founder of FemGems. Passionate about personal development, social impact and female leadership.

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