Alternate title: How you can use the power of physics to get what you want.
I think it’s only fair, since this post uses some technical jargon, that I start with a little self-disclosure: It may amuse you to learn that I nearly failed physics in undergrad. At the time, I was convinced that physics was irrelevant to my life. Fast forward several years to when I decided to pursue advanced academic training to seek answers to questions that inspired me. The questions I was most passionate to find solutions for required that I dust off my old physics textbook. Believe me, no one was more surprised than I was to learn that not only was physics actually relevant after all, but it was inspiring. The name of the degree on my diploma: “PhD in Biophysics”. Go figure.
Now here’s where we get a little technical. Tension is the force that stretches something. Imagine holding a rubber band between your two hands. At first, imagine that your hands are close together and there is slack in the rubber band. But now, imagine that you begin to pull your hands apart. As you do so, you are applying tension to the rubber band and it begins to stretch. At first it is easy to stretch the rubber band, but eventually the band becomes quite stiff and it becomes harder and harder to keep pulling your hands apart. We have created “stress” in the rubber band. This stress can be substantial. You’ll recognize this if you happen to let go of the band with one hand by accident. The release of all that pent-up tension can be quite shocking. OUCH!
Ok, are you still with me?
Now let’s see how this little bit of physics can help us understand what it takes to get what we want out of life. Let’s imagine that our left hand represents where we are in our life right now. And that our right hand symbolizes how we envision our future reality. Maybe we want to lose weight, start a new career, live in a bigger house, make more money, have a more fulfilling social life, or maybe we want all of the above… The larger the gap between where we are now and where we want to be in the future, the greater the effort and the more ‘stress’ we’ll be under to reach our goals. There are really only two ways to reduce this tension.
First, we can get started on doing the hard work of moving ourselves one step at a time from where we are now to where we want to be. We can do this by setting achievable, focused and strategic goals that move our current reality (our left hand) towards our clear vision of the future (our right hand).
Or, we can give up on our dreams. We can allow ourselves to accept the status quo (where our left hand is) and reimagine our future (by moving our right hand towards our left hand) so that it looks more and more like where we are right now.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of giving up on my dreams is extremely unsavoury. I would much rather put in the work – even if the going is tough – by learning new skills and building strength for the journey. After all, the end result will most certainly be worth it. You know what they say about diamonds: they start out as pieces of charcoal that just tolerated stress very well.
Find your spark and start a fire now!