Every human being nurtures his/her sweet dreams and imagines the day when they are fulfilled. People are ready to approach anyone who can help them in this objective. If we go by the growth of self-help and motivation industry, we realise that there is a huge number of customers for both. However, despite the availability of an enormous amount of motivation and advice, success eludes many and in a substantial number of cases dreams die a premature death. Why thoughts and dreams do not become action in so many cases? Why some dreams remain as dreams forever? The point is unless we convert our thought into concrete action, nothing much changes.
The advice industry
We are living in an age which has a surplus of advice and motivation. According to one market research, the self -improvement industry in the U.S itself will be worth 13.2 billion dollars by 2022. The popularity of this genre among all sections of people may be almost same in other countries too. We are very keen to read the success stories and ready formula to win in life . The advent of internet has further opened up this industry. Every day, thousands of motivational quotes, videos, messages are shared. Added to that thousands of motivational speakers make a living just by advising people on how to be successful. Sometimes we will also encounter the irony that people who were not successful in any field choose to become success coaches to make a living. Perhaps, one who tried many things and failed may be the most ideal choice to give advice. He/she can perhaps share the many ways in which we should not try.
Books offering great advice on living are not new. It will be curious to meet one of the pioneers in this category. Unlike today’s exclusive authors of self –help books, Arnold Bennet ( 1867-1931) was a famous English novelist who penned a book titled “ How to live on 24 hours a day”. Written more than 100 years back ( 1908), it will be interesting to note that, many suggestions of the book remain as relevant today as it was then. One focus area for Bennet was how we utilise our time. According to him, more than teaching someone how to use their money, everyone should know how to use their time effectively. Perhaps what prevents many dreams to take shape is the inability of people to utilise their time properly. Bennet calls supply of time a daily miracle.
“24 hours of unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life. Time is the only thing given equally to all. None can steal it and out of it, one has to spin health, pleasure, money , respect and everything. “
Bennet also probes the many ways one can utilise one’s free time. One of the early slogans of workers during the industrial revolution was “eight hours of work, eight hours of rest and eight hours to do what one wants”. Today this whole cycle remains drastically changed. However, the point, Bennet stresses is that even if you are doing the dullest job ( not many are blessed to get their dream jobs) in the world, you can take control of the non-working hours. This is a very important idea. The author asks,
“Why you are allowing two-thirds of your existence subservient to the one third. ?”
To sum up , even though we were prompted by someone a 100 years back to take control of our lives and time in most creative ways, a majority of us crib about our dull jobs and lack of time to do anything. The question is, from where shall come the will to do things? Coming back to our topic, the issue is not the shortage of advice or motivation but our inability to convert either of them into action.
Desires and fears
Man is a species which has needs and desires far beyond what is required to sustain life. In the early phase of evolution, life was perhaps the simple art of not getting killed and mere survival. Man was a species guided by fear. Slowly he conquered those fears and started to dominate all other species. Today, in vast parts of the developed world, man does not live under the constant fear of getting killed by predators or by starvation or disease. Once the fear of death vanishes, man is under the lure of various desires. But what we generally observe is that only a minority are able to work towards their desires and become successful. A different kind of fear and inaction grips a lot of people. Fear inhibit many from doing things and it is manifested in many ways. For some, it is an endless procrastination and for others it is laziness. In the case of many others, it is a lack of confidence in their abilities and worth. They are overwhelmed by the task and surrender even before the first move. Whether it is a career or new year resolutions it is very easy to remain in vivid imaginations about achieving things or consumed by envy.
While we are always ready to pamper our dreams we seldom realise the hard work which people put while pursuing their objectives. We always see them with the winner’s cup and laurels and fail to notice the enormous amount of hard work which goes into the making of a champion. A lot of people attribute great success to the work of genius or nature while the fact remains that nurture and hard work plays a far bigger role than genius. Michelangelo was spot on when he said,
“ If people knew how hard I work to gain my mastery , it would not seem so wonderful at all .”
This is applicable to almost all great achievers. When we sleep, they are toiling and what is a punishing schedule for us, is an activity they embrace with passion. Hard work just does not have a substitute yet.
Of course, self-help books, newspaper editorials and motivational speeches can give us a high and one can always feast on them. If countries were governed as per newspaper editorial suggestions, we would have lived in a different planet. But the ultimate reality is that everything depends on how we convert great words into great deeds. Of course, many of us carry the burden of lost chances and unheeded advice. We may also have the guilt of the past when we simply could not muster enough courage to act despite all motivation. But, still, one can begin all over again and make another attempt. The question is whether we are ready to get up and act? Remember the hero in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nobel winning novel The Remains of the Day who uttered these most comforting lines for all those who carry a sense of lost opportunities,
“ I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. After all , what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished?”.
So the time for action is not tomorrow or day after tomorrow, but now, RIGHT NOW.