‘When I Am’ stories (AKA The Carrot Of Happiness)

Do you have a ‘When I Am’ story? They are very common. I have to confess I have been very partial to many of my own. On of my favourites was ‘When I have paid off the mortgage I will quit this awful but well paid job and start my own business’, and ‘When I am super fit  I will go hike the Inca Trail’ and so on. We all have them. These ‘When I Am’ stories are a really, really good technique to procrastinate like hell and to keep us separate form our true hearts desires.

‘When I am’ stories are the carrot of deferred happiness. They don’t rule out the happy thing, but just keep it dangling out there for when life is better/easier/wealthier or we are thinner/happier/have more time. And more often than not that time never comes. It’s just a way of making us feel better about not doing the thing that we really want to do.

Frankly that sucks. Happiness is not for deferring, it is for having. The difficulty is that we are allowing one state to be dependent on the other.

Have a think…what ‘When I Am’ stories are you telling yourself? You may have told them to yourself so many times that you can’t even see that they are a story…do any of these sound familiar?

When I am… thin I will start dating again/dancing again/wearing skinny jeans.

When I have… paid off the mortgage I will spend more time with the kids/ start my own business/move to Tuscany.

When I have….time I will write that book/learn to surf/join the circus

And so on…

Grab a pen and  list yours here:

When I am/have…(a)……………………………..I will…….(b)………………………………………

Written it down?  Good to get that “When I Am’ story out there for what it is. We then have three choices:

1.     Continue deferring your happiness with your ‘When I Am’ story, sometimes indefinitely. Not recommended!

2.     Say ‘Sod it! I shall not defer my happiness any further!” And simply make the call, make the decision to have (b) and figure out how to make that happen. As Nike would say ’Just Do It’.

Finally, the choice that is the topic of todays blog post:

3.     Look at your story a little deeper…you CAN have what you want but not in the way you may have expected. Read on for this third option…

So: lets work this up a bit. Maybe the thing we are looking for is NOT actually dependent on us achieving state (a). Identify what the feeling state is that will accompany reaching goal (a)…it could be feeling confident or secure for example. Use at least 3 words to describe your feeling state (c) when you reach goal (a).

When I am/have……….(a)……….I will feel……(c) (c) and (c)……… and I will (b)

So it could look something like this:

When I am thin I will feel confident, happy and beautiful and I will start dancing again


When I have paid off the mortgage I will feel secure, strong and in control and I will start my own business

So, your hearts desire is not the thing (b) it is the feeling state (c). That’s all we are ever after is how we will feel when we get the thing, rather than the actual thing itself.

So, take your deferred carrot of happiness and think laterally and see what you can do RIGHT NOW to bring some of that feeling state you are after into your life.

For example:

I can introduce feelings of (c), (c) and (c) into my life RIGHT NOW by doing (d) achievable thing.


When I am thin I will feel confident, happy and beautiful and I will start dancing again


I can introduce feelings of confidence, happiness and general beautifulness in my life RIGHT NOW by booking a new haircut/buying a great pair of jeans/having a luxurious bubble bath


When I have paid off the mortgage I will feel secure, strong and in control and I will start my own business


I can introduce feelings of security, strength and control in my life RIGHT NOW by leaving work on time/delegating more/setting up my side hustle business two nights a week to see if I can run my own small business in a risk free way (which is what I did with Positive Balance!)

See how that works? When we realise the feeling state is what we are really after we can start bringing that into our lives immediately rather than just endlessly bribing ourselves with the carrot of our ‘When I Am’ story that might never actually happen because it’s always for ‘one day’. We can only live and experience each day in the present, so seize the day my friends! Deferring your hearts desires helps no one.  Take a moment to examine your most common ‘When I Am’ stories this week and decide not to be separated from the feelings you are after any longer by introducing a little sprinkling of the delicious feelings you are after right away.

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