A Different Approach to "Fake it till You Make it"

Scott Leonardi

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There’s a lot of wisdom behind the phrase, “Fake it till you make it.”

On one, more shallow hand, you can see this as “pretend you are the thing you want to be until you are said thing.” On the other hand, I think it can be taken much deeper. I’m choosing to see this phrase not in the external sense of trying to become something I want to be, or at least be seen as on the outside, but rather using the strategy of “faking it” as a tool to use in my own positive development.

What I mean by this is that we all have tasks and goals we set for ourselves to accomplish, either short or long term. A lot of these goals or daily responsibilities can weigh on our mental state and bring us down into a mindset littered with resentment towards our obligations. We make a plan to go to the gym, we get started exercising, and the entire time we moan in our heads about how much we don’t want to do it, and how we could stop any time we want, and lifting weights and running is uncomfortable and hurts sometimes and we should just cut the workout short because it doesn’t even matter. These kinds of thoughts can pervade a person’s mind the entire time they’re at the gym making concentrating or even enjoying what they’re doing almost impossible.

This happens to everyone.

Especially when it’s something that doesn’t need to be done, but it’s being done because we’re trying to reap the rewards.

The same goes for writing. We cut out time for ourselves to sit down and get some work done, and the entire time we’ll dread the idea of having to sit and type for some extended period of time. And just like the gym, even when we’ve already started our brains squirm and try to come up with excuses to stop or not do as much work as you said you would because it’s not very fun this time or you just don’t feel like it.

As most of us can attest to, these feelings are pretty common and the best way to deal with them is to persist and ignore the demotivational outcries from our inner cynic.

This is definitely a tried and true method of getting past these hesitations, but I’ve found that there’s an easier way to deal with this issue than to just perpetuate arguments with yourself during the entirety of whatever it is you set to finishing.

I’m slowly learning how to not only finish what I set out to do, but to do it in a way that doesn’t even allow for debate. There is no discussion or bargaining with that part of me that feels discomfort and immediately says “stop.”

When I make a point to make a decision absolute, I allow myself to pretend that this thing I have to do isn’t something I have control over; that I couldn’t stop myself from doing it if I tried.

It is the inevitability of getting wet after jumping off a diving board.

You don’t question yourself and try to bargain your way back onto the high dive. The water is coming, brace for impact. Some of us enjoy the thrill of the fall and others close their eyes and wish it to be over. Our perspective is our choice, but when we are presented with an inevitability, something we have absolutely no control over, wouldn’t it seem to make more sense to do our best to pluck the positivity out of the situation and try to enjoy it? Or, you can at least try to be so neutral about it that you don’t feel one way or the other, but it’s still happening.

Using my gym example, today I said I was going to run 4 miles. I didn’t say 3 or 4, I didn’t say I was going to “try” to run 4 miles, and I didn’t let the part of me that doesn’t want to run that far say anything at all. I made a definitive choice to run 4 miles, but what happened was that I convinced myself that this wasn’t a choice and that I never had any say in the matter. I treated this “choice” as if it were the water rushing up at me after hurling myself of that high dive. In doing this, I was even able to feel less tired and out of breath than I might normally have been. Running those 4 miles became that much easier becasue I didn't have a voice in my head screaming for me to stop. I was able to keep going and be much more relaxed because that voice knew it was "impossible."

Unlike the leap of faith where you may not know the outcome, but you leap on a prayer anyways, this is more of a leap of fate. You see yourself at the edge of a decision, you stare down at the water and can know that in that moment and that moment alone is the only time you can really allow yourself the freedom of a conscious decision. Once the choice is made to dive, or to start your workout, or your art project, or begin your allotted writing time, once you throw yourself off the edge and officially start, there can be no illusions that you can turn back. You can only see your new path as one with a singular finish line. There is no going backwards or last minute deal-making.

At least, this is what we have to convince ourselves of.

This is the “faking” that I’m talking about. It’s more than just masquerading as someone you wish you were, it’s a self-simulated reality where your decisions DO mean more than simple take-back choices. Where your choice is a dive, and the result you want is oncoming water.

When we do this, when we pretend that the things for which we hold ourselves responsible are not only immutable but written in stone, it isn’t any longer uncomfortable. It’s no longer a struggle to get through. We don’t whine and twist and shout with every passing minute until it’s done. We are simply present with ourselves and watch the lesser halves of our mind writhe around with indifference to their suffering.

Our shadow will scream until it is acknowledged, so just acknowledge it. Treat your aversion to the difficulty of progress as you would a cranky child walking slowly behind you. It will cry and complain and you can walk along with it saying, “I know, I know.” and, “You’re right, this isn’t fun.” and, “Okay, buddy, we’re almost done.” without ever making yourself actually change the inevitable destiny of which you’ve endowed yourself.

Your inner complainer will eventually cease its wails. In time, you won’t hear a peep from it even before you start the thing you’ve decided to do, you’ll just do it because you have to. You can transform from saying you “have” to, to you have to. Did you notice the difference? Saying the word with quotations around it gives too much room for wiggling out of the grasp of obligations. If you believe there is even a slight chance that you can get out of doing something you don’t feel like doing, you will have a much harder time directing yourself away from the idea that you don’t actually have to do it. And when we walk into this territory, the cloud of procrastination looms overhead eagerly waiting to soak us in a shower of excuses. We may leave sopping wet and dripping guilt all over the house, but at least we got out of doing that thing, right?

Constantly giving ourselves reasons for not finishing what we say we’ll finish, or only putting in half of the effort so our job is either done faster or is lacking in quality, is the kind of mentality best left behind us. If we can understand that it’s a part of us that will always be there, the acceptance of it and forgiveness we can give it for pestering us at times of our greatest doubt will become our greatest strength.

If we can remain resolute and unfazed in the face of our inner adversity, we can let that adversity become our source of power and focus. In that moment, we rise above the challenge and see it from above. We can understand that the source of this intensity we feel to oppose our better interests is a very small part of our psyche, so small it shouldn’t be allowed to overwhelm us in any sense.

We become masters of ourselves and of our intentions. Our aim is clear and no longer remains merely an aim.

We don’t aim for the water when we jump off that diving board, do we? We hurl ourselves into the eminence of the splash. Time slows down and we can see the subtleties and nuances of our lives unimpeded by the shrieking howls of the baby brain trying to cry its way into giving up.

Standing like a monolith, we move slowly but inevitably towards a more evolved sense of self.

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I write a lot about self-development and personal growth. I want to help people uncover their authentic selves through creative expression and in the process understand their place in the world a little better. I also enjoy writing screenplays, short stories, and poetry. All of which can be found at MossManSupreme.com

Imperial Beach, CA

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