I would like to vs. I am going to

by Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical on October 19, 2010

SuperstarThis week I decided to take Wednesday off from work and go shoot the Fall colors up along the Aufderheide in the Cascades of Oregon.  I try and do this every year for a number of reasons.  First, I love getting outdoors and experiencing nature; looking at the bright and vivid colors of the changing leaves and listening to all the sounds around me.  Secondly, I usually come back with some spectacular images to share with people.

The colors are supposed to be at or near their peak right now so today I went in to work and requested Wednesday off so I could head out on what is predicted to be the nicest day of the week.  I started to word my request like this: “I would like to take Wednesday off so I can go and shoot photos of the Fall colors.”  But this felt really strange.  Here I was a grown adult requesting permission to do something that I wanted to do.  So I changed it to “I am going to take Wednesday off to go and shoot the Fall colors.”  Do you see the difference?

The first statement indicates passiveness and a sense of being unsure. Other ways we say this are;

“May I…”

“Would it be ok if…”

 “What do you think if I…”

It’s like we are looking for approval for what it is we want to do.  Granted, when dealing with our employer there are times when we need to be respectful and go about things in a professional way.  I’m of the belief that we need to assert ourselves more in order to get what it is we want, even though I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t, in general, lived my own life this way.  But as I plan for this sabbatical I’m realizing that I need to.

When we state what it is we want we are exerting our own authority over our lives.  “I am going to take Wednesday off” indicates that I am serious about taking the day off.  I’m not asking for permission I am merely stating that I won’t be in on that day.  So what happened when I sent my boss an email saying I was taking the day off?  She said to have a great time. (OK, I’ll admit that I have a real cool boss so your mileage may vary.)

Mindset Change

How often do we live our lives looking for permission to do the things we really want to be doing instead of just doing it?  How often have we said;

I sure would like to <insert whatever it is you want to do>”,

when what we really should have said is,

“I am going to <insert whatever it is you want to do>.” 

It really takes a change in ones mindset and perspective to make that mental leap.  I’ve noticed myself doing this all the time.  It’s like I am seeking permission, or looking for approval.  Is it really as simple as wanting to be accepted and in order to feel that way we somehow need to seek approval by being non-committal with our actions?  Maybe we are worried about offending people or making them feel uncomfortable with our requests?  Maybe we are afraid of disappointing people? Maybe we are unsure about it ourselves?

Life Doesn’t Give Handouts

Life isn’t going to just give us the things we want.  We can’t just sit back and hope things happen the way we want them to.  Instead we need to get out there and make it happen.  We have to emphatically say “I am going to do this!”  And then go out and do it without seeking approval, without asking for permission, without wanting acceptance and without the fear of disappointing people.

Now before you think that this difference is not worth going on about think about this.  If you are only thinking about doing something then you are not actually doing it.  When are you going to actually do it?  If you can’t answer that question then you will never do it.

If you are seeking approval and permission from others you are letting them dictate how you live your life.  Do you really want someone else telling you how you should be living?  Do you want someone else mapping out your future?

For me I’ve lived most of my life this way.  I’ve only dreamed about doing things but rarely have I actually done them.  Dreams are fine but if they never have action applied to them that is how they will forever remain…as dreams.  I’ve also lived my life by what I thought were the expectations of others.  Before I did anything I always worried about how people would perceive my actions.  Would they approve?  If I thought they would then I usually did it.  If not then I spent much time internally debating myself on whether what I was doing was right. It’s a poor way to live and it will leave you with many regrets in life.

Trying to Change

How am I changing?  I’m becoming more assertive in what I do.  I’m realizing that all the people I sought approval and acceptance from can’t tell me what will make me happy or what will make me feel alive.  Only I can do that.  I’m taking bigger risks, applying action to my dreams and going for it.  Without this shift in thinking I don’t think I would ever have considered taking a sabbatical let alone actually begin planning for one.

How about you?  Do you find yourself worrying about what others think of your dreams and plans?  Are you asking for permission rather than being assertive and telling people what you want?  How do you think this has affected your life?

On Thursday I’ll be writing about a time in my life where I took a risk, didn’t seek approval or acceptance or worry about upsetting people and had an incredible adventure that has continued for the past 9 years.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan October 19, 2010 at 11:50 am

Hey Matt- I am going to leave a comment. I am going to say I liked this post a lot. I am going to agree with you on the fact that being assertive is a better path towards applying action to your dreams. I am going to wish you a very good time Wednesday, and I am going to request that you post some of those awesome photos you come up with from the Cascades. And one last thing– I am not looking for your permission– I am going to read your post on Thursday.
Ryan recently posted..4 Packing Questions I Have for Experienced Travelers

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matt October 19, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Haha…thanks Ryan! It’s amazing how changing ones perspective and mindset can make a huge difference in how we approach our dreams. And…I am going to post photos from Wednesday. It’s looking to be a fantastic day out in the Cascades.

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Jenny October 19, 2010 at 5:36 pm

You gotta go after what you want in life. I get tired of people telling me, “I wish I could do what you do.” When if they really wanted to, they could. It’s not easy to go through the process or get there and it takes a lot of hard work, but if you want it you gotta pay the price.
Jenny recently posted..The thrilling adventure of selling everything

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matt October 19, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I love how you are going after it. You must be serious about it because I read you sold your skateboard ramp. BTW…I love that you skate! You are right that it takes hard work to get where you want to be. Sometimes we have to sacrifice the things we think we want to get to the things we know we want. Watching you sell everything and knowing that we will be doing the same soon really hit home with me. It’s going to be tough to let it go but I’m excited about where we are going and what we will be experiencing. Keep going after it Jenny!

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Ricardo Bueno October 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Lately I’ve spent more time being assertive. If I want to do “x,y,z”, I focus on outlining the things that I need to accomplish in order to do xyz and then I just do it. There’s a certain sense of freedom that comes with making the decision to just go for it (if that makes any sense at all).
Ricardo Bueno recently posted..On Blogging &amp Goal Setting- Be More Specific

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matt October 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Hi Ricardo! I definitely agree that outlining the things we want to accomplish is a good way to approach things as well as being flexible enough to change it up when need be. As long as one doesn’t get too caught up in the planning stage and never applies action. And there is definitely a sense of freedom when you can decide and commit to just going for it and accept whatever happens. It’s like a weight being lifted. Thanks for your thoughts!

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Nina Yau November 3, 2010 at 10:06 am

Totally, Matt. As grown adults, we are cornered into the mindset that we still need to ask for permission to take time off of work, time off that the employees have ALREADY earned, as part of the company’s PTO/Vacation policy. It’s ridiculous. Treat people as children and they’ll start acting like children.

I’ve told my coworker this many, many times. Do NOT ask for permission when putting in your time off. State it, as a matter of fact, because it is. And if something comes up, then and only then, remain flexible and work with your manager to find a suitable solution that will benefit both parties.

Until the mindset is of the “I don’t need to ask for permission; I’m DOING it,” one will find difficulty in getting things approved, done, acknowledged, etc. And who says we want others’ approval anyways? Unconventional lives are lived by remarkable individuals who have the intensity, the healthy tolerance of risk-taking, the courage, and the will to do what’s best for them in their lives — what will make them happy and truly fulfilled.

That’s what you’re doing with you and your family, Matt. Looking forward to the many adventures you all are bound to have.
Nina Yau recently posted..Leaping Forward to New Heights and Ultimate Freedom With My Notice of Resignation Today

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matt November 4, 2010 at 12:08 am

Well said Nina! I think the mindset that we owe our employer because they gave us a job is something that many of us have a hard time overcoming. If you were your own boss would you ask permission before doing something or would you just do it? I don’t see how working for someone else is any different. Of course, as you pointed out we need to be flexible, but your employer doesn’t own you so there is no reason to act like they do. I am really inspired by the steps you took this week. Congratulations to you and I’m really looking forward to seeing the great things you will most certainly do.

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