For a hot minute between graduating college and looking for a full time gig, I thought maybe I’d like to go to culinary school. In hindsight, this was likely about extending the time between graduation and finding a real job.
I was visiting my parents while they were living in Shanghai, when I mentioned this newfound revelation to my mom.
One remarkable quality about my mom is the way she throws herself with full force behind my lofty aspirations. Except that time I decided to try online dating. That she wasn’t sure about. Craigslist Killer had recently premiered on Lifetime.
When I decided that maybe culinary school was the path, she immediately purchased big cardboard chef hats online. They came in the mail on a Friday afternoon and we wore them while cooking dinner that night and laughed and laughed.
The next night, she recruited her friend, who knew the chef of a fancy schmancy restaurant, who offered to give me a tour of the kitchen. Finally! My entry point into the career of my newish dreams.
It took all of seven seconds into the tour to register I did not, actually, want to become a chef. There was nothing fun about being in that kitchen. It was a sterile combination of smoke and sweat and there was so much yelling. Yelling makes me uncomfortable.
Anyway, the chef chatted with us for a minute or so before mumbling something about getting back to work. And as she turned to get back to the roast chicken, barking at some younger sous chef about balsamic vinegar, this did not feel like the career for me. I instinctively knew it was something I would not enjoy, much like my first job at an amusement park hot dog stand. I realized I could spend years in culinary school just to end up working in an environment like this one, that might turn me off from cooking altogether. Also I prefer to cook to Stevie Wonder with a glass or two of pinot noir, and I don’t think drinking on the job is allowed in these type of places.
We all want things, we all have these big dreams. In fact, many of them are so pervasive they don’t really mean anything. We want fulfilling, lucrative jobs, and happy, secure relationships and closets full of beautiful, size small clothes. Check check check.
That’s what we say when we’re asked, what do you want?
But here’s a different question: what kind of shit are you willing to slog through to get what you want? Because any sort of happiness or fulfillment requires some sacrifice.
I first pondered this question after reading this article by Mark Manson.
This is much more interesting to think about. And I’m finding it’s a much more realistic way to determine how life might turn out.
Take, for instance, this idea from Naval Ravikant, via Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss:
“‘Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.’ I don’t think most of us realize that’s what it is. I think we go about desiring things all day long, and then wondering why we’re unhappy. So, I like to stay aware of that because then I can choose my desires very carefully. I try not to have more than one big desire in my life at any given time, and I also recognize that as the axis of my suffering. I realize that that’s where I’ve chosen to be unhappy. I think that is an important one.”
A contract we make with ourselves to be unhappy until we get what we want. God I love that.
Because uh yeah, we’d all like a few extra Benjamins in the bank. But how does an 80 hour work week sound? Can I offer you a second job? Oh you’d like to work for yourself? Let me introduce you to my friend estimated taxes. Here, meet nights and weekends!
A beach house sounds lovely, too. But I’m thinking that would mean a lot more saving and a lot less perusing West Elm’s website (should really just unsubscribe from those emails already).
This idea is particularly relevant when it comes to wellness.
While there are many ways to implement healthy habits and learn how to jump start the process, there is no magic pill. If a quick fix existed, I assure you that Dana and I would have found it by now. Also, we’d be billionaires with six packs.
So maybe you’d like a bitchin’ bikini body but you keep chowing down cream filled donuts at every office birthday party. If you really truly think about it, not just the “that’d be nice” sort of thinking, but the deep burning sort of desire: do you really want to make the choices necessary to lose weight?
Like sure, I wouldn’t mind a pair of sculpted quads. But I know what sort of crossfit hunger games style shit I’d have to contour my body into doing in order to make that happen. I’d rather eat tacos.
But feeling good in my own skin, maintaining a healthy relationship with food and exercise, while enjoying my life? That I can get down with. That I can sustain, and, here’s the key, appreciate. Instead of looking at health as this dreaded sort of obstacle, I’ve come to appreciate exercising (not of the crossfit variety) and eating with an 80/20 approach.
I workout every day because I want to, and it makes me feel better and stronger. If my body says rest, I rest. Most of the time I eat real, whole foods, but if a friend proposes an ice cream run I’m most definitely opting in.
A lot of self help books advise something along the lines of “you just have to want it, and summon the courage.” As if that’s all that’s required, and everything else will sorta fall into place.
I’m not sure. But who wants to listen to a Ted Talk that argues the opposite?
I think sometimes we operate thinking we want things, but we don’t really consider what it takes to get there. We also have to want, or at least be willing to put up with, all the shit that jumps in the back seat and comes along for the ride.
So, that big dream you have. Do you actually want it? Or is it just a fantasy? Maybe, if you think about it, you don’t even want it at all. Maybe you just like the idea of having the end result.
This is not about willpower, or vision boards or tarot cards. It’s first believing in yourself (and in the universe), and yes, having some courage, and then acknowledging all the very real stuff you’ll have to go through.
The risky decisions and late nights come with running a business.
The uncomfortable conversations and tough rejections come with finding love.
The kale salads and scheduled workouts come with losing weight.
And with weight loss, let’s be honest. Sometimes we really want it, and we try everything out there and still can’t crack the code. If you’re feeling that way, you might be making one of these common weight loss mistakes. Maybe you’re totally pretzeled about why the scale isn’t budging when you seem to be doing everything right. Maybe everything you’ve learned about nutrition is backwards and you need to break the cycle. Shoot us an email, we’d love to hash that out with you.
Because the confidence, and energy and enthusiasm for life that comes with getting healthier and feeling good in your own skin is so worth going through the tough part. And it doesn’t even have to be extreme. You just have to figure out what works for you and what feels good to start gaining the momentum.
Seth Godin wrote in one of my favorite posts, “Merely looking at something almost never causes change. Tourism is fun, but rarely transformative.” You do have to figure out what you really, desperately want and figure out what sort of shit you’re willing to go through to get there, and then do it. Be it your health, finances, career, relationships, whatever you’re not feeling so hot about these days.
And as Naval says, “I try not to have more than one big desire in my life at any given time, and I also recognize that as the axis of my suffering.”
Maybe pick one thing at a time to focus on. Total overhauls don’t typically pan out so well. We just get overwhelmed and retreat like little hermit crabs. At least that’s what I do in overhaul sort of situations.
If it’s weight loss or more confidence, you’re after, let’s talk. All you have to do is say yes, and we’ll tell you exactly what to do.
‘Cause you can do this my friend, you just have to decide it’s worth doing.