What Keeps Us From Change
Alexis Ohanian joined Y Combinator with an app to order food on, because Paul Graham liked him. Paul didn’t like the idea, but he knew from experience that Alexis would change his idea along the way anyways. Iterations and pivots always occur, and it’s near impossible to predict the trajectory of a company. True to this, Alexis and his co-founder later exited to Condé Nast with a social network and news platform.
I wonder how much time Alexis must have spent imagining his food app’s existence at the time? He worried and stressed and imagined these scenarios, none of which realized. How could you imagine the quirks of Reddit before it's existence?
It makes me wonder what thoughts I’ve been thinking about which are irrelevant to my future? What is my "foodapp" that I am stressed about?
These may seem “zen,” but I’ve noticed two things about who we view myself that that has a deep impact on my behavior.
First, when I think about my work, I tend to think about it in a “future” tense.
I spend time thinking about everything that hasn’t occurred yet. This seems pretty unproductive, considering I have zero knowledge of what the future will hold. Not to mention daydreaming or stressing is keeping me from doing my work.
We can’t picture the future just like we can’t picture a new boyfriend or girlfriend before we meet them. Pivots, curveballs, and iterations are going to come whether we like it or not.
Second, when I think about myself and my personality, I tend to think about my past.
I run through scenarios of things that have happened to me. Replaying these moments, and reinforcing thoughts that no longer relevant. Thinking like this only prohibits my current thoughts from being free from self consciousness. I’m tethered to old memories that make up who I think I might be, today.
Our brain creates a pull from the past and a projection to the future, making the perfect storm of what would keep someone stuck. It’s like pulling from both ends of a rope and so I am kept right in the middle. Keeping me from changing and evolving.
The strange thing about change is it seems like you need to think about the past and the future for it to occur. That the process is to think about who you were, and who you want to become and thats where the change happens. I find it might be easier to find change by forgetting the past and avoiding imagining the future. They are both likely false anyways.
It's counterintuitive. Creating change is not about your relation to the past or future, but only in the focused in the present.
Your brain is a Chinese finger trap. The only solution is easing both sides slowly back to the middle so that you can be set free to take action.