Happiness

Stop letting your fantasy self hold you back

We all have a fantasy self. The person who paints and rides their bike to work while we watch television and endure long commutes in our cars. Through dating, I’ve met a number of people whose fantasy selves travel internationally while their real selves spend their finances and time on other activities. I know someone who has been “learning Spanish” for years, but still taps out at biblioteca.

If that’s you. That’s fine. If you get more joy out of planning travel than traveling, that’s great. If you get satisfaction from a five-minute Spanish lesson every other week that enables you to order a cervesa in Mexico, do it.

However, if you are spending hundreds of dollars on bike gear for the bike you never ride to work, maybe rethink your fantasy self.

When you have something you’re unhappy with–in this case, a goal self you aren’t reaching–you have two options: reevaluate the goal or reevaluate yourself. Is this fantasy of you something you truly want? If so, what are you doing to get it. Is this fantasy self something you admire but isn’t really the life approach that could maximize your happiness? Then what can you do instead to be happier?

The biggest areas where we waste time and money and actually detract from our greater happiness is our fantasy selves. I’ve written before about how ridding yourself of the fantasy self can help you eliminate distracting clutter (and save money to focus on your real hobbies and goals).

I can’t ride a bike. My fantasy self can. An ex once bought a bike with the purpose of teaching me to ride a bike. It never happened. My real self knows I’m missing out on biking to Taco Tuesday, and it doesn’t care! My real self doesn’t want to do mountain biking or leisurely city biking. My real self could learn but has never felt the actual need.

Once I admitted to myself that I don’t care to learn to ride a bike, the shame and guilt of not knowing this life skill disappeared.

At the same time, sometimes we aren’t achieving our fantasy self because of other detractors. Maybe we’re afraid to take a leap. Maybe we feel we don’t have enough time, money, or energy. Maybe we don’t think we’re good enough. By letting go of the possibilities you aren’t tied to–letting go of the fantasy selves you know you don’t need to follow–you can see the ones that remain and figure out what you need to do to achieve them.

Eliminating fantasy selves isn’t about eliminating goals or dreams. It’s about focusing your time and energy on what you most want to achieve. And turning those fantasies into realities.

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