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Staring into the Sun

By Aaron Zint

Road Trip Entertainment

It was 1990-something and I was riding along as a bored 7-year-old in the front seat of my family’s minivan on a road trip. This was back when the only entertainment during those long drives was either the car radio or staring out window. Thank Jobs for the creation of the iPod, iPhone, iEtc. In my boredom, I decided to do something I’d never done before: see how long I could stare directly into the sun.  I was “smart” enough to only do this with one eye. It was physically painful to keep it directly in view for very long but after 5 to 10 seconds the pain started to decrease, and I was able to gaze upon it for half a minute or so.

The Blind Spot

Months later as the blind spot that briefly looking at bright lights normally causes never actually went away, I went to an eye doctor and found out I had burned a permanent divot into my pupil. 14 years after that, the blind spot has shrunk significantly, I can only see it by closing my unaffected eye and I have a fun random fact for team-building activities.

Whenever we must make big decisions, changes or life-corrections it’s like my young self getting ready to stare at the sun. The pain of the moment, boredom for me, prompts you act. But can it sustain you when the going gets tough?

When I considered a major career shift about 7 years ago, the wisest question anyone asked me was from Eric Hess. He asked, “Are you making this decision because of pain or vision?” In other words, am I trying to move away from something or towards something?

Pain Motivation vs. Vision Motivation

Pain can be a beautiful and necessary motivator. Just ask anyone who has needed to get their health in order or anyone who has dealt with a dependency. There are two problems with pain motivation. One, it only lasts if the pain lasts. The moment the pain is gone, the motivation is gone. Two, if a greater pain arises in the struggle to change, we will choose the lesser pain that we started with. That is why so many New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside so quickly when it comes to weight loss. Yes, staring in the mirror and not liking what we see is painful, but the discipline, positive self-talk and self-control of consistently doing difficult workouts, eating healthy and denying ourselves sweets can be way more painful.

There is a better way.  If you can visualize what you want instead of what you don’t want; where you want to go, instead of where you don’t want to be; who you want to be, instead of who you don’t want to be; what you want to do, instead of what you don’t want to do; you will be giving yourself vision as a motivator. Even when pain prompts you to change, your vision of the future you want is what will sustain that change. When there is pain in the process, vision will give that pain a purpose.  The clearer the vision, the greater the motivation. You want your vision to be 20-20.

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