Your imagination allows you to create characters out of thin air, come up with get-rich-quick schemes, and envision a life involving tiger cubs as pets. However, it’s also responsible for reminding you of possible hardships you’ll encounter along the way. It will conjure up every single reason why your idea is terrible and will never work and is destined for failure. To effectively use your imagination, it has to be coupled with action.
Sadly, the two are not natural friends. Action thinks Imagination is lazy and neurotic. Imagination thinks Action is brash and thoughtless. I struggle to give each one equal say. More often than not, imagination wins.
Allow me to illustrate.
I come home from work one day and head straight to the couch for snacks and reality tv.
As I’m impatiently sitting through a commercial break, I have a real light bulb moment. I think hey, I’d be really good at jewelry design! I begin basking in the knowledge that I’ll be content at last. I will never have to get out of my pajamas again as long as I make some earrings and put them on Etsy! Martha Stewart will immediately stumble on my page, declare me a genius and invite me up to her farm in Bedford for her annual bulb planting party. All of life’s problems = solved.
I whip out my laptop and start looking up jewelry design classes. I’m going to be rich I tell you, filthy rich! And the envy of all those corporate chumps tied down in full time jobs! And…erm…you know, I’ll be creatively fulfilled and stuff.
Then I find out how much money silversmithing class costs and I start to get a little discouraged. That’s just one of the many smithings I need to learn!
I start browsing the jewelry stores on Etsy and marvel at how professional the photos look. I realize I’m going to have to hire a photographer if I want to be competitive. After attempting some research, I decide it would be easier to take the photos myself. I start looking into camera equipment and local photography classes, both of which require boatloads of money. My sense of unease deepens.
I’m also going to need to invest in some fancy boxes to ship my jewelry in. I start looking up wholesale fancy box manufacturers and doodle possible designs to use as my logo. Or maybe I need to hire a branding company? Here, I’ll just look at some more tissue paper patterns, have to make some decisions on this pronto.
Then I realize I’ll have to go to the post office on a regular basis. This turns my thoughts towards homicide.
My imaginary store is sending me into a panic, so naturally I go to stuff my face with random ingredients found in the fridge.
I guess figuring out what I’m going to do with my life can wait another day. Snacking and watching polygamist jealousies unfold clearly cannot. Imagination: 1, Action: 0.
So how will I escape this neverending cycle? How can I keep from crushing my dreams before they’ve even been allowed leave my brain? Well, I’m going to draw inspiration from young adult fiction.
It wasn’t Lyra’s way to brood; she was a sanguine and practical child, and besides, she wasn’t imaginative. No one with much imagination would have thought seriously that it was possible to come all this way and rescue her friend Roger; or, having thought it, an imaginative child would immediately have come up with several ways in which it was impossible.
— The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
I will be like Lyra, able to achieve the impossible simply by not entertaining thoughts of failure. I won’t let an overactive imagination foil my every plan. That’s all well and good, you say, but what methods am I actually going to employ to get there? Slow down there buddy, one thing at a time. First I need to read a bunch of books on productivity, willpower, and living a creative and fulfilling life, and then, only then, can I maybe start formulating a plan.