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Why I'll tell my children they CAN'T do anything they set their minds to

Updated on October 15, 2012
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How many times have you heard it? "You can do anything your set your mind to!" These words are meant as encouragement to aim high, shoot for the stars, never give up. Instead, they may achieve the very opposite effect.

Think of it this way: you can set your mind to do anything. In my own personal life, I've set my mind on many things. I wanted to earn enough money to buy a house in cash. I wanted to become a published author before age 18. Have I accomplished these things? Not even close. Why? My mind was in the right place, but they didn't happen because I didn't actually begin taking the steps towards doing them.

Now this may seem like simple common sense, but I find many people around me are simply wishing their lives away, their goals and ambitions scattered along the roadside ditches of their existence. Why is this?

A) Laziness.

B) Fear of failure.

Laziness keeps us from doing things we wish we could do, because we feel like they require too much effort. But many things can be accomplished if we start them out now and work on them over time. As for fear of failure, you can always learn and grow from mistakes, but the biggest form of failure is doing nothing at all.

Take dieting for instance. I've heard so many people talk about how they plan to begin eating healthy. Plan? You can begin at any moment. Why not start now, by putting down the doughnut and picking up an apple? Even if you make an unhealthy choice later on that day, your healthy choice is still going to count. Then you've only made one unhealthy choice instead of two. You don't have to hype yourself up for a long time over a big diet while eating junk food- it's time wasted that you could have spent eating well, even if it's only now and then!

Then there is the writer who feels they cannot actually write a book until they've holed themselves up into a tiny rustic cabin in the wilderness with nothing but a typewriter and some meager sustenance for a full year, maybe two. Why not sit down on your couch at home and just start typing? Five minutes of typing a day is better than nothing, which is what you're doing now. Eventually it will add up, like money in a savings account. If you never put anything in, you'll never have anything to show.

So I encourage you to click out of your "organization" board on Pinterest and actually begin organizing your real-life house. I encourage you to stop talking about how you wish you had six-pack abs, and actually go to the gym. I encourage you to forget the big drama and start taking baby steps- because the first time a baby takes a step, it is dramatic enough!

So here is your new motto for life: You CAN'T do anything you set your mind to. You CAN, however, do anything you actually go out and do! In the words of the wise Albus Dumbledore: "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

Go ahead and start doing things right now. You'll be amazed at what gets done.

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