It is completely counterintuitive, yes.
Whether it’s because life is actually a series of paradoxes, or if it’s because we live in upside-down world, it is true that in order to get something that you truly want, you have to do the exact opposite for a period of time.
That probably doesn’t make any sense, so here are some examples.
Digestive problems: to eventually be able to eat whatever I wanted, for now, I have to eat only what is approved.
Dating/marriage: if I eventually want to have a relationship with a man in which I have no inhibitions, for now, I have to create strict boundaries.
Health: if I eventually want good health to the point where I don’t have to think about it, for now, I have to think about it all the time.
Time/work: if I eventually want to have the freedom to do whatever I want with my days, for now, I have to be extremely strict with my time.
Let me break it down even more. Take the time/work example, which I’ve been contemplating a lot recently.
In the future, I will work for myself. I will have a business that runs primarily online that does not depend on a 1:1 time expenditure on my part. Yes, that means that I will have things to tend to for my business each day, but it also means that I can choose when, where, and in what capacity I do those things. Because I will build a business that revolves around things that I already like and want to do, the phrase “freedom to do whatever I want” automatically includes doing the work.
Obviously “whatever I want” is subject to God’s law, and natural law, and US law, but it’s not subject to an employer’s rules and my boss’s expectations and the consequences of having to survive in a highly political environment.
Fun fact: my major criteria for an ideal working environment are: 1. I can wear shorts, 2. an entire wall of speakers so I can blast music as loud as I like, and 3. lots of light.
None of those things could exist at my current workplace. Maybe the light, but I have about 0% control over the location of my office.
However, none of this will happen by itself.
I cannot simply quit my day job now and expect to be able to support myself off the internet with no prior preparation. I could probably support myself off the internet if necessary, but certainly not in the “what I want to do” category.
To get to that point, where I work for myself, I need to build my skills and knowledge on the side, during my non-employed time. This means, that if I also want to eat and tend to my relationships and relax, I need to be disciplined about how I spend my time.
There are a finite number of useable hours in a day, and if I want to accomplish something more than the 9-5 grind, I have to use them to my advantage.
I could do what I want to do now, and pretend that I have the ability to do whatever I want whenever I want. That might make me happy for a time, but then my employer would start getting irritated at me leaving the office to work out every day at 11:30 am, or my taking naps every afternoon.
After a while, I’d probably be unemployed.
Then, if I kept doing whatever my immediate desires told me to do, I wouldn’t have a job and I wouldn’t be building any online business infrastructure. I’d be watching YouTube videos and eating pork rinds.
To get where I truly want to go, I have to do the opposite of my impulsive desires, of my ingrained habits, of the actions that I’ve done so far in the past to get myself to this point.
For the future, I cultivate in myself actions and habits that align with my long-term goals.
I believe that is what they call “discipline.”
It is basically wanting what is truly good for us instead of what is expediently and easily fun.
Winning that battle is just as much mental readjustments as it is physical habits.
(Trust me on this one: it took me YEARS to learn in the food arena. As of a few years ago the pastry case in Starbucks no longer registers in my brain as food. That’s a huge shift.)
This is all totally possible, too. I’ve done it before, in the arena of health. Did I ever think I would realign my life to live the most anti-bacterial lifestyle that I could? No, of course not! But I did, and by doing the opposite of what I wanted to do, I no longer have to think about it as much. Partly, this is because I have some new habits that are ingrained in me, and partly because the problem isn’t nearly as big. And hopefully it’ll be even less big after the surgery next month.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, the road to whatever you truly want is probably its exact opposite.
Don’t fight it, just start walking the path.