Dory says to just keep swimming, so why don’t you just…do it?
After all, she’s a jolly Blue Tang that lives in a vast ocean and forgets things every five seconds. She must know something the rest of us don’t, right?
Sometimes keeping on swimming comes like an epiphany. You know the feeling. You’re on a roll. You do + you do + you do some more all the while mentally congratulating yourself because—
‘damn, look at me getting shit done.’
But then it stops. Like the rainstorm that started with roaring thunder and, before you notice, you can’t even hear the raindrops hitting your window anymore.
And that’s when trouble starts.
How. HOW can you get out of this bloody hole?
You aren’t getting your self-imposed homework done, deadlines come and go without delivering, and you stop flossing your teeth daily because you.just.can’t.do.it.anymore.
Yes. Life gets hard. Impossibly hard. There’s no denying it.
And this is where you get to be your own mother and best cheerleader…or at least attempt to.
Because after all, the only person that can truly cheer you up from the inside out, is you.
But it must go beyond just cheering yourself up, doesn’t it? Because if you can momentarily cheer yourself up it’s great, but what about the rest of the time?
This is where you stick to fail safes, mindsets and habits that help pick you up from out of that rut—out of that dark place that would rather keep you in bed under your covers than see you get up at be good at life in some way.
You see, just like there are ways that hold you back from moving forward there are ways to push you to keep doing.
To do what? To do you.
To beat excruciating writer’s block. To get out there at 7 am and exercise for 45 minutes. To finish that paper due at 11:59 pm. Start planning that move to a new country. To make $1,000 extra dollars in the next few months. Finish the design project that’s long overdue. Change that nagging habit that’s messing up your health. The list goes on. We all know this. Still—
These are a few things to think about the next time you hit that ten-foot wall that keeps you back from seizing your day, your week, your year…
We’ll start with doing.
Doing is like exercise, you feel A LOT better when you do than when you don’t.
But one thing is simply knowing it and another is to internalize the rewarding thought.
Have you ever experienced that endorphin high that gets you pumping and ready to act after you’ve ran that mile or scored that goal?
You will find that the same thing happens when you get done what you know you need to. There is a lot less guilt, depressive thoughts, and less workload for the next day when you get what you needed to get done right now…right now.
It can be another motivating factor when you struggle with crossing out your to-do list.
Kind of like the snowball effect.
One great feeling leads you to achieving more, which then leads you to achieving more since you feel so good about everything else you’ve done, which then leads you to achieving even more.
It’s riding the wave of productivity, positive emotion, and reassuring momentum.
The trick is getting to the point where the feeling of being productive far outweighs the tradeoff of just staying in bed with your covers over your head.
And, you guessed it, the only way to get there is by doing.
Consider applying robotics to your life.
Have you ever taken a minute to imagine what that would be like?
The life of a robot is easy. You automate and you do.
No feelings. No ‘my gears don’t feel like it today.’ Even if the robot’s batteries are on low, it’ll use that little bit of energy until it’s out and needs a real charge.
Robotics isn’t just for geeks and tech nerds. It can be applied to your everyday life in the form of automation.
Saving more time to focus more on the important things can give you a great advantage in being productive every day. This means, bills, automatic posting to social media sites for your business, automatic savings accounts, etc.
Now, here’s something you’ve heard for the millionth time—
Changing your mindset.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you have to change the way you think. Can I get an eyeroll?
Beyond changing the way you think, which a lot of people simply interpret as ‘not thinking bad thoughts’ it’s changing your thought patterns.
If you’re having a recurring negative thought, it’s not enough to shoot it down, you’ve got to replace it with a better one. And a better thought isn’t always just positive thoughts (though those help).
Thoughts of action can go well here too. Take a minute to frame it. You’re having that recurring negative thought:
“I’ll never be a good enough ________.”
Your VERY next thought can be:
“Alright time to do X thing. Because I put it on my to-do list and I promised myself I would do it.”
Keeping yourself moving, whether physically or mentally, can help you beat somber thoughts and stay ahead of them as you work on ridding yourself of them all together.
It’s like exercise. Before you know it, your thought process will change to a more positive one, and your life will start to mold itself around it as a result.
Another helpful thought process to have is—
Choices shape failures.
You undoubtedly have the power to shape a failure as a real failure or a success.
If you look at it from a learning + critical feedback perspective, it ends up having more positive results than negative ones doesn’t it? This can only be defined as an overall success.
You learn from it.
You look at what you did wrong in hindsight (it’s always 20/20 right?)
You discard what didn’t work and rethink and/or brainstorm a different path.
If you fail, and stay frustrated, and decide to give in and stop attempting anymore, then that is the REAL failure.
The choice to take either route is literally yours each and every time.
Remember that and remember this —
You are doing yourself and the rest of the world a disservice by not making an effort to put your ideas out there.
On subduing your thoughts and checking perception.
Sometimes it’s easy to blow things out of proportion and balloon them into situations bigger than they are or need to be.
When there is a big mishap or something that makes our self-image take a bruise we tend to blow things up bigger than they really are. Because yeah, certain events or things not going how you expect can truly hurt, let’s be honest.
But this is why it’s so important to practice keeping things in perspective. Because your own thoughts, if mishandled, can blow things out of proportion and give us tunnel vision as to how life is really playing out.
It can blind us to making the right decisions at the moments when we need to have clarity of mind the most.
struggling? Smile at your good fortune, it means you’re doing something right.”
—a wise old man that I’ve enver met before said.
Struggle is better than no struggle at all.
Struggle means you’re banging the bars of the jail you’re in. It means you’re escaping the latter and experiencing new things.
Take struggle as a sign of progress.
The opposite? Is being completely content with everything in your life and perpetually taking it easy all the while wondering what could be if you really tried…until it’s too late.
But to struggle forwards and not backward—
you’ve gotta learn to feel uncomfortable.
Or a better way to put it might be learn to unlearn.
We’ve learned to appreciate and run to comfort. To name it our place and not let ourselves even consider leaving it. But then, there will come a time when you realize that if you want a certain something, whatever that is, you have to leave that comfort zone.
Question is, are you willing to make the tradeoff?
Too many of us kind of sort of think in the back of our minds that we don’t really have to give up that bad habit, or change the way we think and live, give up toxic friendships holding us back, or actually work as has as they say you should to get where you want to be.
And this stems from a desire to not let go of comfort and familiarity.
So we stumble and we struggle in circles and not forward, because we aren’t willing to give up the snuggly warm corner of the bed we’ve made into a life that feeds our needs.
Understand that currency comes in ways other than money, and that there is a cost for everything.
But you already knew that.
It’s an exchange, right? You trade time reading a book in exchange for knowledge.
You trade effort exercising in exchange for better flexibility, healthier muscles, even looking better.
You trade sleep for those extra two hours of input so you can spend time with the kids in the evening.
None of those directly involved money. There is a cost for everything. The faster you internalize this, the faster you’ll be on your way to making better life trade deals.
You can’t ask life to trade you sleeping in for business progress.
You can’t ask your body to trade you taught muscles for three measly jumping jacks a day.
Willingness to put in the effort, without overthinking about how much it’ll hurt, how much time it’ll take, how much you’ll have to sacrifice, is what has gotten people where they need to be.
Don’t think it through a million times. Be willing to sacrifice.
Put your self-awareness on steroids.
We have a love for observing others do we not?
It doesn’t stop there. We don’t just observe and call it a day. We observe to judge, to categorize, to predict, to protect ourselves, right?
Now, why is it that we fail to observe ourselves as much as we like to look at others?
Self-awareness brings perspective and is one of the most valuable things we could ever do in life and in business.
Many of us go through life never turning around and asking ourselves why we do what we do, think like we do, act like we do and the echoing effects in can have on everything that surrounds us. We tend to accept things ‘as is’ and fail to use our imagination to build and achieve greater.
Before we can go on to better things, it’s really a good ‘rule of thumb’ to appreciate what you already have.
To help with self-awareness, practice gratefulness.
This is where often many of us get it wrong.
We try to guilt ourselves or others into feeling grateful by constantly making comparisons. I call it comparison gratefulness (probably not the most original title). You know the drill. If you complain about something that’s bothering you, Susie Q chimes up and tells you it could be worse. That you could be somewhere out there in a land far far away freezing to death without two sticks to rub together and ticks on your butt.
It instantly makes you feel better, right?
You can just feel reinvigorating life crawling in through your veins as you compare yourself to people in a crappier situation than you.
Here’s why that doesn’t work: You can compare yourself all you want to someone with less fortune than you, but in the end it doesn’t change your reality.
It’s simply a thought that you might divert to thinking about for a few seconds, to then get overtaken by what was originally bothering you. Why?
Because it’s your present reality. And if there is something powerful out there its whatever is perceived as reality.
Practice simple gratefulness.
It doesn’t have to be comparing yourself to others who have less, but acknowledging the value of the opportunities, comforts, and people you happen to be surrounded with.
Making it a daily practice, even if it’s just a few random thoughts of gratefulness a day, goes a long way in your well-being and the ability to move forward.
You can literally plan to fail by not planning at all. Funny, right?
Set up fail safes before you know the predictable and inevitable will happen. That way you aren’t flung into the moment, and because of lack of planning, you now have no way to respond to trouble in the best way possible.
Planning doesn’t have to be the equivalent of building a blueprint for a three-story house, it can be as simple as making a list of tasks in order of importance.
Try making a detailed to do list the night before you’re about to go to bed. Let that be the last thought you have for the night, so you have something to look forward to the next morning.
Not only will you have something to look forward to, you’ll be able to automate a lot of the thinking that goes into ‘what do I have to get done today?’ the day of. You’ll already have a detailed plan to refer to once you’ve showered and are ready to tackle your workload.
Again, remember, failure to plan guarantees planning to fail.
Find Your People.
A good support system is underrated. Its widely known, publicized, it’s a ‘household phrase.’
But one thing is knowing it and the other is internalizing the wisdom of doing it once you’ve, well, done it.
The feeling you get from building a ‘tribe’ around you where you share common beliefs, you’re both struggling and building towards the same things, and you can innately relate to one another.
It’s a beautiful thing. Being able to lean on others that get you for you, and don’t give you a blank stare when you share your frustrations, as mundane as they may seem.
Drag yourself if you have to.
This heading reminds me of a cartoon scene that gets played over and over in different but similar scenarios.
You know, the man excruciatingly thirsty for water that’s crawling through the stark dry desert and starts hallucinating beautiful women at an oasis with nice cold water just waiting for him to jump in?
Such is life sometimes. But the story never ends there.
There was always a moment of triumph in the end. And triumph didn’t always mean rescuing the princess or getting recognition and a million bucks in a bag. Triumph sometimes meant making it out of the fricking desert and getting a nice cold water to drink.
It might not seem like much, but going from a star dry desert to ice cold water is progress. The trick is repeating those little steps over and over and over again.
You ARE good enough you’re just not fine-tuned yet.
But you are.
Now, whether you’re practiced enough in whatever it is you’re trying to achieve is the REAL question. They say to reach expert status you need to, at a minimum, spend at least 10,000 hours at whatever your craft is. No joke.
That’s literally A little over a whole year. 24 hours a day dedicated to learning to play the flute. Knitting. running. Dancing. Playing the harp.
Part of internalizing this thought and getting rid of negative ones is not allowing emotions to get the best of you.
Don’t let emotions be the primary fuel of your life
You feel fired up and ready to go one day, then drained and annoyed with every little thing the next day.
It’s what many of us experience daily. For the most part, no one cares about your feelings.
Have you ever thought about that?
The world doesn’t suddenly stop because you didn’t feel like getting up at 7 am and missed that important thing you needed to do. It literally keeps going, regardless of the emotions you make because you didn’t ‘feel like it’ today or tomorrow or yesterday.
If those that came before you let their emotions and how they felt on a given day run their lives where exactly would you be right now?
Change what motivates you inside when it comes time to ‘do.’
It’s not the fact that you feel like crap and your arm hurts, or that you missed an hour of sleep, but the fact that you simply have a goal, and it’s what you need to do to get there.
Move from emotion to equation. You know doing X thing will get you X place, therefore that is why you ‘do.’
It’s basing your reasons for doing on truth instead of how you happen to feel, which can be so volatile.
…If all else fails, try watching motivational videos.
Many people hate on motivational videos because they’re ‘cheesy, cliché, overdone, the same old.’
But, if you really think about it, it really is crazy how the mind works. Maybe you have heard it all before. But have you heard it coming from a passionate voice and some music in the background for dramatic effect?
Seriously. If you can get lost in some of these videos and truly take in what they’re saying, maybe that’s the extra kick in the butt you need to get you through your day, or even through your week.
Try this one for starters:
Hey, whatever works (as long as it’s not unhealthy).
Sure, this can be a short-term remedy. If you’d like to take it one step further you can use motivational videos as an almost brainwashing technique.
One of the most powerful ways to change your mindset is to hear the same things over and over again, and the positive insight many podcasters, motivational speakers, and life coaches bring is priceless.
This is one of my all-time favorites:
You have to implement these ‘systems’ as or before you get hit with the bullsh*t.
For many of us keeping on going is not reeving all 9 cylinders and running cheetah style seven or even five days of the week.
But if you can make incremental progress, especially during those times that you’re just not feeling yourself, are trying to function under heavy bouts of depression, or feel like you have no energy left, then you are building towards the prize you’ve set out to go after—whatever that may be in the infinite world of wants.
Now, this isn’t an excuse to do three burpees, pat yourself on your not-so-sweaty back, and call that progress while you grin at the life you think you’re building.
It’s about pushing it when you feel like you can’t. That’s when you build strength and amass bits of progress.
Have you noticed a pattern here? Most of these points have to do with what goes on inside. With that goes on in your mind. They aren’t external.
No one is out there trying to give advice on how to control ever event in your life to get the results you want. Life’s gears don’t work that way.
How you are conditioned internally is a huge part of what you achieve with what you’ve been given, whether it’s a lot or a little.
Keeping on going when you don’t feel like it will mark the difference between making it halfway down the tracks and turning around in defeat or making it there and seeing the light you’re yearning for.