I know you've heard this one before:
An energetic young business man meets a guru one day while walking along the beach. It's the same guru so many have told him about. Apparently, this guru is the wisest and most thoughtful person in the world, but usually inaccessible. Knowing how to interpret fate, the young man asks the guru a question:
"What must I do to be successful?"
The guru glances at him in that zen, guru-like way and says he'll share with him how to be successful tomorrow morning at 4 a.m. at this same beach.
The next day, the man shows up, nicely dressed and finds the guru near the shoreline. He asks the guru the same question. The guru responds by asking the young man to follow him out into the water. The man is confused at first, but figures the guru must know what he's doing, so the two wade into the ocean together.
The guru turns and says, "Let's keep going." So, they walk in until the water is up to their knees, then their waists, then their chests. The man, suit soaked, now asks, "Guru! What does this have to do with success?"
"Do you want to be successful?" the guru asks.
"Yes! Of course I do," the man replies.
Just then, the guru dunks him under the water. The young man fights to get back above water, but in addition to being wise, the guru is also strong. After about 15 seconds, the guru lets him back up. Confused and infuriated, the young man rails, "What was that?! What are you doing?!" Immediately, the guru pushes him under and holds him down again. After about 15 seconds, he lets him up.
The man is irate now. "What are you doing?! I asked you how to be successul and you're trying to drown me!"
The guru calmly replies, "Do you want to be successful?"
Frustrated, the man looks at him and says, "Yes, I want to -"
Before he can finish, the guru dunks him a third down, holding him down longer than before. He finally lets him up. The man is gasping for air now, trying to regain his bearings.
The guru states, "Until you want success as badly as you wanted air just now, you will never achieve it."
It's an old story, but still has a critical point: until we want our goals and dreams to come true more than we want any temporary distraction, we will never achieve them.
You will not lose 15 pounds if you want the late night candy bar more than you want to slim down.
You will not start your business if you want your current way of life more than the way your life could be in five years.
You will not get the chance to ask her out if your fear prevents you from going over to say hello.
Many times, we think we want something. In reality, we act very differently. You want to get out of debt? Stop shopping. You have to want a debt-free life way more than you want a new sofa, wardrobe, or TV. As long as you keep shopping, it's clear you want new stuff more than you want to save money. Say what you want; the way you live your life will always speak louder than the words you are saying.
Lip service to wants is the stuff of amateurs. You can make a wish list a mile long. Merely writing something down doesn't make your dreams any closer to coming true.
The real trick is to move from want to need. Just like the young man had to realize his success would come when he felt a visceral need for it, we, too, must realize that we need to have our dreams come true. We need to set a goal and reach it. We need things to be different than we are now.
When a want is unmet, we may feel uncomfortable. We might get sad or upset. Life can continue. But when a need is unmet - we suffer. We cringe, react, and are thrown off course. Something is amiss and we have to set everything else aside until we fix it.
Get rid of your wants. Start needing your dreams. Until you can't go another day without chasing a passion, you'll never lace up your shoes and get going. Once it becomes crucial to your happiness and wellbeing, then you're ready to run.