If you’re lucky enough to wake up in a new day you have to decide what to do next. You keep on deciding until the day ends. As days add up, so do the actions we take and the decisions we’ve made.
Over time we spend significant amounts of our lives doing things – some we’re really proud of, some we’re probably less proud of. Sometimes we choose to do the easy thing or the fun thing, while other times we do something challenging, or new.
Making decisions and taking action can help you start to ‘look like’ something different. For example, if someone spent 3 years working at a Starbucks, you could probably observe them on any of those days and they’d ‘look like’ a barista. Not just in what they’re wearing, but in what they’re doing, talking about, who they’re spending time around, and so on.
If one day our barista wakes up and decides to spend one less hour at Starbucks that day, and one more hour calling a congressperson about why Los Angeles shouldn’t host the 2028 Olympics, they may start to ‘look like’ an activist. At first this would be an hour of their whole life. And then 2. And then 3. And then – well, you know how to count.
We can see how, slowly, a decision and some action can start to reshape a person. They may not like this activism and choose to spend an hour on something else the next day. Or they may decide to double their hours. Either way, the decisions add up, and momentum builds. One day they may not ‘look like’ a barista much at all.
Too often we think about change as binary – on or off. Today I am a barista, tomorrow I am an activist. But that’s not quite right, because most of the things we do need patience, and practice. Most things worth doing take time. We need to decide to see ourselves as something new, and for most people it’s hard to see how you’d jump from barista to activist, and much easier to spend the next hour doing something a little different.
The next time you are expecting a binary outcome, remember it is unlikely you will feel completely different just by doing something new once. Instead, simply change the answer to the question: what to do next?