Let’s be honest—we all want to be Walter Mitty.
We have dreams—we know who we COULD be—but we don’t feel like we have the ability or resources to make it happen. Those ideal states and epic stores come to life in our minds, while in “real” life we become victims of the daily grind—standing on the platform and following the set pattern of our everyday routine.
And that’s where our friend Walter found himself. A bystander in his own life. Until one day, he made one choice.
He decided to just do something.
The difference between a hero and a bystander is that the hero actively takes charge of the situation, and bystander is a passive recipient of the circumstances.
A hero just does something.
They see the situation. They aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They decide to change it.
In your life—regardless of the circumstances you can’t change—there are two main factors you can influence to create and maintain that ideal status quo:
Your habits determine your happiness.
Your routine determines your reality.
“Just doing something” starts by asking what habits you need to break, and what habits you need to build.
Here’s five simple steps to make that happen:
Make a list. As you go about the day, start keeping track of the “habits” in your life, from grabbing that iced macchiato at Birch to riding the 6 train to 59th street to binging on Netflix instead of taking that evening run.
Become aware. You’ll find that keeping track of these behaviors makes you more conscious of the things you do and that happen to you throughout your day. Consider how they make you feel—do they add stress? Bring happiness? Remember these feelings.
Start small. Pick one small thing you want to own for the week. Don’t try to fix everything all at once—that can be overwhelming! The confidence from #winning on this small habit will give you the confidence to take on something greater.
Reward yourself. Keep track of every day you say “yes!” to your new habit—even if it’s skim instead of 2% in your latte, or walking to work instead of taking the subway. Repeating it for seven days makes a habit, so reward yourself after you’ve been faithful for a week straight! Just make sure your reward isn’t related to the bad habit you’re breaking—it should be something that reinforces (not negates!) the choices that you’ve made.
Rinse, repeat. You’ve got this down, now onto the next thing. See how you can tackle a habit or take a (reasonable) risk every day—try speaking up in a client meeting, asking for mentorship from a supervisor, or finding a fun new adventure to take on every weekend.
Build the habits that make you happier and bring fulfillment. Be the person you’ve always imagined.
Just. Do. Something.