For some reason today, I'm really struggling to get this concept out there. it's been going round and round my head for days and the phrase will not leave my brain, which is as sure a sign as any that I'm seeing this pattern on repeat and need to address it.
Do you ever find that? It's pure cognitive filtering that, when we notice something, when it's brought to our attention, that we tend to see it on repeat.
It's like the moment that you're sat in a training session and all of a sudden, the answer to a half dozen problems you've been facing become clear, because it's the same pattern repeating across multiple areas. I used to notice this a lot with my clients when I was a lawyer; I'd butt up against a problem and suddenly find that the answer to one client's problems was the answer to multiple clients' problems.
I still find this now; I often find myself repeating the same advice to multiple people, often with a tiny twist on the subject depending on what is coming up for them.
Part of this is because none of us have unique problems; for all the internal thoughts of 'my life is so complicated, no-one will understand, I'm so alone', none of us is truly unique or original.
I know a few people will be triggered by that idea!
But I see oh so many people trying to reverse engineer success, happiness, love.
Oh, you found your husband on tinder? Sign me up!
So and so left her job and went travelling around the world and she looks SO happy on instagram now, I'll start doing that.
I'm all for a good story (hell, try shutting me up when I'm telling a story about burnout and resilience) but there is this idea that we can take what other people have achieved, break it down in to component parts and reverse engineer it.
It doesn't work like that gorgeous!
To (horribly mis-) quote my favourite play, you stir the jam into the pudding but you can't stir it back out.
You can take every action step, every moment that someone else shares with you and slot them into your life but ultimately, unless you're LIVING those changes, making the decision to move forward, figuring out what is important to you?
They will just sit there, like the unopened boxes from your last house move.
You'll have them, own them, even drape a few pretty scarves over them, but what's in those boxes won't be integrated into your life.
There's this horrible click-baity practice going around with certain entrepreneurs right now, where they share posts saying 'get the 3 simple steps to how I made £1million' or 'the five rules for happiness'.
It frustrates the hell out of me because these people give you a piece of paper with a few words on it, but it doesn't explain anything, it doesn't help. All you have is more mess, more shit in your inbox that doesn't help you, and these people HIDE behind a paywall essentially saying 'intrigued, come and find out more by giving me your credit card'.
I'm kind of sick of the whole thing really. Because it sells false solutions; it perpetuates the idea that it really is simple, that you only need to click a button, or pay a fee and all your problems will be solved.
Instead you're left with a cluttered inbox, a racked up credit card and an ever-increasing feeling that this MUST be working for everyone else and oh my god I'm such a failure.
You can't reverse engineer your life. You are not a lego model or a barbie doll who can have bolted on accessories or a pink car to solve your problems.
The only way you're going to see change, real, lasting, life-changing change, is by choosing. By deciding. By determining for yourself what you will and will not tolerate, what you will and will not achieve, what you will and will not allow to stand in your way.
By acting it, living it, practising it every single day.
But only for the rest of your life.
There's this idea that telling people that they need to learn and grow and be consistent is some kind of unsexy, icky turn off. Maybe it is.
But I'm sick of seeing people struggle because they think that it's oh so simple and it's all their fault.
You can't reverse engineer your life, bolt on bits of other peoples and expect it to be anything other than a hot mess.
It's your life, your journey. Learn, grow, develop, access the tools and techniques you need but don't for a moment think that it's going to be anything less than work.
Work that, after a little while, gets to be easy and fun and such little effort that you sometimes forget that it is work.
But it's your life, why would you deserve anything less?