The dictionary defines the word imp as an “imaginary naughty being or demon.” Early this morning I had a short conversation with an imp. This isn’t unusual since it happens almost every morning. The talks begin while my alarm clock is still ringing. When I choose to talk to him for more than a few seconds the interchange usually goes something like this:
Me: O.K. it’s time to get up since I promised myself I would get up early and exercise to start my day off right.
Imp: I know you said you were going to get up early and exercise but you went to bed a little later than you wanted to, so you really need more sleep. You can do better tomorrow.
Me: No, I said I would turn over a new leaf today, so I’m going to do it.
Imp: Why not just get the rest you need this morning and go to bed early tonight so you will be rested when you start tomorrow?
Me: But I promised myself that I was going to do this today.
Imp: I know but if you get up this early you’ll be tired and grouchy all day. You’ll have a miserable day and probably offend people. Is that what you want? If you are rested you’ll be able to reach your wildest dreams.
Me: But I’ve actually been planning to get up early and exercise every day for as long as I can remember.
Imp: You don’t need to feel badly about this because you are not by nature a morning person. You were born this way so just embrace it and go back to sleep.
Me: I guess you make some really good points. I did stay up to late and I do seem to be a night person by nature. But I think I’m going to get up early tomorrow and exercise anyway.
It took me many years to realize that every time I get into an extended discussion with this imp, he always talks me out of doing what I know I should do. Imps are extremely persuasive and logical in the early morning hours before the fog in our head clears. It is amazing how much influence these imaginary demons have on humans.
Thankfully the conversation this morning went more like this when my alarm went off:
Me: O.K. it’s time to get up since I promised myself to get up early and exercise to start my day off right.
Imp: I know you said you were going to get up early and exercise but…
Me: Too late! I’m up!!
When the alarm goes off I have to immediately get up before the imp realizes what I am doing. I cannot use the snooze button or the imp will start whispering his soothing logic in my ear. Unfortunately, imps don’t go away easily even if we win the first battle of the day. Once we get on our exercise clothes, he is back trying to engage with his persuasive arguments. He will try his best to convince us to wait until tomorrow to exercise or to do anything else that is beneficial and requires effort.
Maybe the reason there are so few high achievers in the world is because too many of us listen to these imaginary imps. Many people have great intentions to achieve wonderful things in life until the alarm goes off in the morning. That is when the battle begins. Any time effort is required to accomplish something valuable the whispering in our heads begin. And yet, it is doing these difficult things that lead to real happiness in life.
In the ‘70s former Olympic and World champion boxer Mohammed Ali was asked how many sit-ups he could do. His profound answer sums up why so few people achieve greatness in life. He said: "I don't count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. When I feel pain, that's when I start counting, because that's when it really counts."
Few people even attempt to do hard things--like getting up early, controlling their diet or having a regular exercise program. Researchers estimate that only about 16% of Americans get some sort of exercise every day. That along with an unhealthy diet and overeating may explain why nearly 60% of American adults are obese or overweight. And why do people not make healthy practices a part of their daily routine? Because, they are difficult to do and imps are always present to talk out of doing hard things if we stop to listen.
Accomplishing hard things can be done with determination and desire.
Many people take the easy route because doing hard things requires self-discipline.
If you want to accomplish good things in life you must ignore the logic of imps.
Imps speak loudest when we attempt difficult things and when things become painful.
When an imp starts trying to talk you out of doing what you have committed to do, dismiss him and do what you know you should do. It may be difficult but you will feel good with yourself when you win the battle.