If we are not doing the things we believe we should be doing, then the message is that we are supposed to be doing “something else.” Often, the things I am doing are not in my mental line of vision, so, I don’t even recognize them as “things.” We align and attach to certain interests we make our goals, hopes and desires. Those things may materialize, but when they don’t, we tend to consider that a failure or inaction.
See the something else you are doing and regard it as a “should.” It is like the negative space in a painting, i.e., the parts you don’t notice and, thus, don’t value or get excited about. Observe the negative space in your own stream of physical activity (your life) and attach importance to that as opposed to the things you don’t do (even if they are central to your core beliefs).
The only way to know what these something else actions are is to watch our bodily movements, which is how we spend our time. What are you doing right now (versus what are you wishing to be doing right now)? Identify the activity and give it a label, “I am typing a blog post on the computer.” This is an action; it is my real doing because it is physical and occuring in real time. It is my real life, not my imaginary life. It is what is occuring by my person in space and time.
You don’t need to worry that this exercise will cause your mind to give up its goals or cease its fantasizing (if that is valuable to you). The mind will never stop that—it is its nature. So, you won’t lose anything in this practice, only gain the confidence that you are living your life correctly, and, the awareness of what your real life looks like. You may even come to like the collection of something-else activities that make up your actual path of action, especially if you see down the road that they evolved in ways that lined up with your larger interests or aspirations. This is how we spend our time, so we may as well see it, validate it and keep watching to discover where it is heading.
I think of my life as a connect-the-dot exercise where I observe all the dots and how they eventually form a picture of some kind, a shape, even if abstract. I often find my life to be turning into something else altogether from what I imagined!