You’re shooting yourself in the foot.
You’re focusing on the issue of your desire with all of your energy and you’re still unable to get ahead. It’s time to understand what’s going on and how to deal with it.
Hyper-intention is a concept mentioned in “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. It’s when you are intensely focused on a specific outcome with so much emotional investment that you quite simply make it impossible to happen.
“You have to let success happen by not caring about it.” —Victor Frankl
We’ve all been there, whether aware of it or not. Let’s say you lose your job all of a sudden, and you feel the carpet being pulled from underneath your feet. You immediately go into panic mode.
What I’ve personally done, and watched countless friends and colleagues do, is just pour their attention and focus onto the task of finding another job. You scour every job-hunting website, you rewrite your resume for the umpteenth time, you polish those individualized dreaded cover letters, you contact your working friends and see if their outfit is hiring and ask them to put your profile in front of an actual HR person.
Bills are coming in, rent is due, food needs to be on the table, the car needs gas, and debt must be repaid. It’s a clusterfuck and a new job needs to happen right now at all costs.
So, with all of these concentrated efforts, something positive ought to happen pretty fast, Right? Wrong!
What follows is a downward spiral of depression, anxiety, fear, banging one’s head against the wall, running on a very short tolerance fuse, and a steady diet of addictive substances. The regular culprits, of course, are coffee, sugar, cigarettes, and alcohol.
And congratulations for successfully turning yourself into a nervous wreck who will almost be guaranteed to act ridiculously weird during their job interviews.
More often than not people find themselves accepting the first available—and often really bad—offer because it’s probably the only thing that can stop them from chewing their nails.
This sort of wanting something so bad that you botch it quite catastrophically can happen also during promotion interviews, first dates with a new person you’re crushing on, doing a public speaking gig for the very first time, or any other situation where you feel underprepared, going through a time crunch, with extremely high stakes.
One of the most stupid things to say to someone going through this is: Just show confidence. Oh Fuck off!
Most things can’t be willed into existence in short order, no matter how badly you really want or need them.
Good results must happen from a place of composure and serenity. You’re not doing yourself any favors by flooding your body with stress hormones and the negative feedback loop of fear.
A great strategy for not getting cornered by fear is to stay ahead of the curve and plan for those major life or career shifts before you find yourself in a pinch and your fight-or-fight responses are kicking your teeth in.
The Stoics have a term dor it: Premeditatio Malorum.
Assume the worst, all of it, at every corner along the way, and long before you get there. Consider it something like predictive or preventive maintenance of the vehicle that is your life.
You consider the missteps, the mistakes, the blows of fate, the economic downturn, the sudden loss of property or loved ones, and everything in between. If you really want to get as close as possible to smooth sailing in life, you’ll have to practice and prepare for everything you can imagine.
“What is quite unlooked for is more crushing in its effect, and unexpectedness adds to the weight of a disaster. This is a reason for ensuring that nothing ever takes us by surprise. We should project our thoughts ahead of us at every turn and have in mind every possible eventuality instead of only the usual course of events…
Rehearse them in your mind: exile, torture, war, shipwreck. All the terms of our human lot should be before our eyes.”
There are people out there who employ a great strategy for job hunting, for example. The minute they land a job, they immediately start looking for another job. The security of being employed gives them the strength to find better opportunities, negotiate better terms, strategically place themselves in their desired industry, or position themselves for a specific career destination.
If you’re going about your career in an intentional long-term strategic perspective and not allowing yourself to be stuck in reaction mode, you’ll be setting yourself up for success, quick ascension in the ranks, exciting networking opportunities, lucrative jobs, compounding influence, greater autonomy, and freedom.
And hey! You are not going to follow a clear pair of steel railroad tracks here. Strange and wonderful surprises and opportunities will reveal themselves in due time. Of course, you’ll also face setbacks, but it’s all part of the adventure.
Another great strategy for developing steady steps in life is practicing ahead of time.
If you’re going to a job interview, for instance, you need to treat it like an acting class. You need to practice the act of being interviewed. Go nuts with attire ideas, job interview scripts, and videotape your interview to see how you come off to other people. You should have someone else physically present in the room to run the interview and give you feedback on your performance.
The goal is not to be stuck in a trance of fear because our bodies are designed to tense up and drain our minds of reason when we sense danger.
Your aim should always be to keep your focus relaxed and unforced. You’ll be going about your life secure in a specific track, even temporarily, while you strategies for long-term moves.
Life is best approached in the mindset of a Chessmaster who plans several moves ahead. It is also best lived by allowing serendipity and luck to fill your days with the unexpected, sewing the seeds of goodwill, helping others, volunteering, being open to experiments, new experiences, and adventure.
Let purpose guide you. Move in the general direction of where you desire success, wealth, or recognition but your purpose should be to do enjoy doing the things your really love to do.
Focus not on money and success, for they elude you if you go about looking for them too hard. Focus on your life’s purpose instead. Your unique talent, your passion, how you can provide the most value, the people you can help, and the problems you can solve. If you Focus on the things that really matter to other people, the world will reward you with success, money, and recognition.
Relax and be aimless in your pursuits. As in keeping your focus on something else so that you’re not all tangled up in anxiety about not getting what you want or fearful of the consequences of not achieving it.
It’s quite OK if you don’t know yet what it is the thing that you need to do with your time in this world. You’ll just have to run a few more experiments in life. Make deliberate moves. Never leave yourself be at the mercy of circumstance. The fates are capricious and will test you at every chance.
Do things for the love of doing them, or for giving you the experience and tools that will allow you to figure out your mission in life. Try your best not to paint yourself into a corner, always reacting to life, and not planning your next steps. Always try to look forward, anticipate change, and make contingencies for when things eventually go sideways.
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