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Information is not the problem

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This is the information age. Anything you want to learn how to do, you can.

If you want to ride a bike, there’s a 26 step process for doing it right here.

Yet every day, people look at the steps of what they want to do and say “no.”

Those who want to go for an early morning run sleep in, instead.

They say they’ll write 1000 words but end up watching television.

They decide that they can have one last one (no matter what that is).

And you are one of these people. We all are. Why?

This leaves one of two options:

ONE. The information is right. The steps are right there in front of you. You just aren’t doing them. This is simply a willpower issue. Point final.

TWO. Part of the equation is missing. It’s about more than the information. Some of the steps are missing; not just from riding a bike, but everywhere. There is a big X in the equation, an unknown– maybe several of them– and they are stopping you, me, and everyone.

Which is it?

* Filed by Julien at 10:07 am under taking action


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

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30 Responses to “Information is not the problem”

  1. Ryan Stephens Says:

    Willpower is a huge component of it, sure, but we’d definitely be oversimplifying it by attributing it solely to that. People don’t understand (or see) the invisible barriers holding them back. They don’t understand how to create habits. There’s cognitive biases at work invariably holding them back. Putting triggers in place to overcome the obstacles preventing them from overcoming their goals is key.

  2. Paul Says:

    What are steps to become a millionaire ?

  3. Jacqueline Carly Says:

    Ponto Final! Exatamente! :)

  4. Lindsay | The Daily Awe Says:

    What if it’s one AND two? We don’t have the drive or willpower AND something is missing…something within us. I guess that’d be the drive, no? Or maybe something is THERE, holding us back…fear of something.

  5. Bridgette Says:

    In my circles, there are a lot of X’s in the form of a question: What difference will it make?

    The answer is often, “I don’t believe it will really make a difference.” What I hear behind that: I’m scared to try, because I might not be triumphant.

  6. Ludo Says:

    That big X: courage, discipline, tenacity, persistence…?

  7. mattkoyak Says:

    The answer is “Two” and that reason is “One”.

  8. The Literary Analyst Says:

    I think it is a combination of both. The steps are right there in front of you or me and we are just not doing them. Or we are doing them and just not achieving the same results. In psychology we would term this as the experiment lacking external validity, meaning it only worked in the experimental setting. The steps are there and it may have worked for 1 or 2 people but it somehow does not work for everyone because some variable, that made it work, is not accounted for. For many this variable may be luck, it may be capitalizing on available opportunities, it may be looks, it may be confidence etc. it’s very hard to tell. For example, I may have followed the steps you outlined to a t, but a key resource that you had the opportunity to use, I may be missing. In fact, you may not even be aware of or have acknowledged the role that the resource played in your success.

    Some may argue, “It worked for me so it should work for you, you must be doing something wrong.” But am I? It could just be that your steps worked only well for someone with your particular circumstances. Until it can be replicated by many people successfully there is no way you can proclaim that the steps you outlined will work.

    Anyway, some may view this response as a copout…it is not…it is an explanation…pursue your dreams using whatever method or steps you find appealing…just do it with awareness. The key word here is pursue…

  9. Monique Says:

    I’m just a little intrigued as to how he caught me snoozing through my 530am runs.

  10. Andrew Says:

    Fear of success

  11. Kyle Reed Says:

    wow that is convicting.

    My 2 cents:
    it could be that the missing x is what motivates us.
    i am single so i want to look good for the ladies so i am going to run and workout, but that ultimately does not motivate me to wake up at 6 for a run. my sleep is more precious right now.
    fast forward 30 years and a doctor tells me that if i do not start exercising i will die and never get to see my grandkids or hang out with family or live a healthy full life. you better believe i am walking and eating healthy.

    so motivation is difficult because it is fickle, but having the right motivation could be the missing x.

    just a thought

  12. Peter Paluska Says:

    Come on! Just one more (cigarette, porn, video game, drink, snooze, chance, you name it).

    It’s a disease. But the good news is, it’s curable. Get help today.

  13. Linda Sand Says:

    Maybe the steps are missing something. When my spouse tries to give me directions regarding computer things he starts at his step one. But his step one may be my step three. If he doesn’t start where I am instead of where he is I cannot follow him.

    Of course, I still have to WANT to follow him. :)

    • Christine Says:

      Linda, I agree. Sometimes step one is pulling my head out of the sand (or somewhere else). The trick is figuring out why you bury your head, wherever your head burying place may be. Thank-you!

  14. Cactus Joe Says:

    I’ll hazard a guess.

    #2?

  15. Janel Says:

    What’s the most powerful force in the world?

    Habit.

  16. Michelle Russell Says:

    The Literary Analyst makes a great point above about unknown variables throwing off your results. From a slightly different angle, though . . .

    This post strikes right at the center of something I’ve been thinking about a LOT lately.

    I’m also not trying to cop out by saying this, but sometimes willpower simply doesn’t work. Or (this is key) works for a limited time only, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. I’m thinking here of physiological processes like dieting and the way we do it all wrong—if you restrict your intake through sheer willpower for long enough, you will eventually force your body to binge on whatever is there. (Or die, if you have REALLY strong willpower.)

    I and many, many other perfectionists have spent our entire lives flagellating ourselves for not being “good enough.” That’s a huge topic in itself, but for us, I’d argue it’s more important to learn to go easy on ourselves than to push on using willpower, fail to meet our unreasonable goals once again, and lose even more trust in ourselves.

    So the question becomes, where do you draw the line between knowing when to not be a wuss and just kick it into gear already, and when to have compassion for yourself? (My personal preference is always the former, but I’ve done myself a lot of harm over the years because of it.)

    I don’t have any instant answers. But I am VERY interested in exploring the question.

  17. Zeph! Says:

    I think that the “X” is motivation. A strong reason WHY. Consciously we may want to be millionaires and have six pack abs but subconsciously we hate doing paperwork and and eating carrot smoothies for breakfast. Our subconscious is the X that determines whether we sleep in or run an extra mile.

  18. Rich Rothman Says:

    I think there are many great thoughts above and it goes to show you how many angles from which this topic can be examined. Here’s another one….

    I think we all pretty tragic at keeping “possibility” alive. Marriages. Diets. Workouts. Deadlines. Projects. Keeping in touch after the reunion. Fill in the blank. We are all good intentioned, but possibility has the shelf life of a French baguette. (Gym clubs know this human dilemma intimately- capitalize on people’s New Year’s Day dreams, lock them into contracts, the clubs are packed in January and empty by mid-February).

    I don’t think it’s easy, it takes work and time, but I believe the more clear and connected we can be to the possibilities we create, craft some pathways and ways to execute in bite size chunks, appreciate the progress and learn from the wipe outs (without beating ourselves up for it), the more that fuels us to figure out “X” and push through the inevitable circumstances that arise.

  19. Jackie Says:

    The value of X weighs significantly lower on the scale than the existing comfort found in the current condition.

    Our current choices and existence are nothing more than habits and rituals we form, and habits are bastards to break. Sparks of motivation aren’t enough to carry you through the process or create emotional shifts that are needed to reach your objective.

  20. Sue Says:

    Context and meaning, maybe?

  21. king Says:

    I am gonna put my neck on the line and say it is A, BUT in reality it is B the is an x missing. e.g i want to make money but there is a missing link, that is X(me).

    i Started a blog nut X is not writing posting. Shit why is X such a lazy pussy. fuck x and shit

  22. Jscott Says:

    I spent most of my life trying to figure this question out for the general population. I failed. What that failure taught me was that I only need to answer that question for me. Intimate awareness of myself.

    I have never failed because of a lack of info. The steps might have taken a bit to figure out but I had the tenacity to do so.

    When I do not wake up at the time I set it is because I am lacking integrity/congruence with what it is I am really after.

    Stating I am gonna do something is often all the reward I want. Fantasy.

    My key has been to find reality. To be fearless with seeing and admitting to what is really going on. To not Bullshit myself.

    Others might find this little riddle different. I don’t care. It only matters how I work. I no longer have to save the world at the expense of me.

  23. hashim Says:

    Hi…i like the issue. I think the X that is missing is…human behavior. Lets face it. Every1 know that they need to save money or start investing in the early years. But in the end, they spend all the on something else. You know the ‘Info’ but u dont do it because it has become you behavior.But i found the solution…its called AUTOMATION…

  24. Alden Says:

    Information is definitely not the problem. It could be if you think information is all there is and that you can learn everything and anything you ever need.

    But ultimately, it just all starts in here; in you. It’s all about getting out denial and taking responsibility for yourself!

  25. Cre8ive_OnE Says:

    There are some absolutely great thoughts throughout the comments here! Thank you so much everyone!

    Ultimately for me the question is this: I know what I WANT (six-pack abs, $$$, new X??…) and I even know the steps of HOW to obtain it, so why am I not successful in obtaining these? And while these are mere ‘wants’ not ‘musts’, perhaps that is why we settle for the fantasy of _saying_ we can…

    I think these get closest to the mark:
    @Zeph! => A strong reason WHY!
    @Ludo => courage, discipline, tenacity, persistence…
    @JScott => …because lacking integrity/congruence with what it is really after

    It’s really whether you have, first and foremost, a Definite Purpose in your life toward which all of your daily decisions push you. What is it that you _exist_ in order to accomplish? If you don’t have a clue, or can’t sum it up in a sentence or two…then the ability to make instant, accurate, correct choices necessary for success – will not exist. Without this ‘ultimate destination’ constantly in our subconscious we are destined to wander aimlessly, making the ‘right’ choices only in terms of the immediate present.

    Perhaps this equates with a strong enough “WHY”, which provides the “…courage, discipline, tenacity, persistence…” to maintain “integrity” across all the choices we make over time. I don’t know for sure – I am still learning every day of my life – but I think I am going to give the concept a shot. Then I’ll work on the ‘easy to do’ daily decisions to get me there… be seein’ ya on the beaches of the world!

  26. Henway Says:

    The Big X is the ability to transmute your biological instincts so it’s on the same path as your rational goals. And to shape the environment so you don’t have to rely on willpower as much.

    This is all the result of evolutionary remnants/bugs left in our brains.

  27. joel leaman Says:

    How to achieve anything:

    1. A real, deep-seated desire for/to do something.
    2. Strong belief in yourself that you can achieve it.
    3. A plan of action.
    4. Keep at it.

    1. Connect your desire to as many other desires as possible. For example, my desire to loose weight I also linked with my desire to be more self-confident, to be healthier, to live longer, to lower my risk of heart disease and diabetes. I connected it with my desire to not be alone, with my desire stay alive for as long as possible. Make as many connections as possible. If you desire it with all your heart, if you make it a need not a want, you won’t need willpower.

    2. Believe you can do/have it. Find others who have done something similar or the same for inspiration. I imagine my desire is already fulfilled and I write down how it feels, who I’m with, what I’m doing, how I look. I fill in as much detail as possible and I do this every day.

    3. A plan of action will come to you, probably out of the blue like it did with me. I figure things out by sleeping on them. Write the plan down and follow it immediately, there is only ever the present moment in which to do things. More minor plans and adjustments will come to you as you go along, refining your main plan.

    4. Keep at it. Change doesn’t noticeably happen over night but if you do this and keep at it then it will happen. Persistence is key.

    Just remember, it all starts with having a strong desire, the stronger the better.

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