Here in the Audacious community, I know you’re all out there every day, working hard to make your life exactly what you envision it to be. You have big dreams, goals to accomplish, and amazing visions that you are making into reality. It’s so exciting and wonderful and energizing and inspired! Every day is like a new chance to take on the world and build your dreams…
And then you live your life and coworkers make fun of your choices, your kids cry because you won’t give them the things you have decided aren’t good for them, you see yet another article about something that you have always wanted but really shouldn’t invest in right now, yet another thing is added to your calendar, you see another commercial for a product that you know isn’t good but just looks so darn wonderful, and you wonder if it’s really worth it. You wonder if all the sacrifice and work and determination and struggle and waking up early and going to bed late and investing in yourself is really doing anything. Maybe you wonder what’s so wrong with all of those things you’ve been working to avoid. What could be so bad about processed foods, watching TV instead of working on your novel, gossiping about your coworkers, saying those things about your significant other, or drinking that extra cup of coffee? You haven’t seen many visible results recently and the fire just isn’t there.
Truth of the matter is, the moment you decide to pursue something higher than average, you choose a life that will be more challenging than average. In the long run the successes that you create will be infinitely more fulfilling and pleasurable than the average, but in order to get there you will invariably have to work longer, push harder, reach higher, and sacrifice more than those who aren’t working to improve their lives. Unfortunately, our society is not one in which positive choices and healthy lifestyles are encouraged and rewarded. If you’ve tried to do anything exemplary- living honestly, eating healthfully, being kind- you know what it’s like to go against the grain every step of the way. It can get exhausting, right?!
This week I want to explore some options we can utilize when it no longer feels worth it to make these big and purposeful changes. When we feel like giving up on the grand goals and slinking back into our usual patterns and place in a society that praises mediocrity, consumerism, and selfishness.
Next time you find yourself tempted to give up on all the changes you’re making to improve yourself and your life, work yourself through the activities on this list first.
- Sit with the challenge.
Go to your “get stuff done” space be that your desk, cozy chair, the kitchen table, Starbucks down the block, wherever you go for maximum productivity and grab some paper. Spend some time getting personal with yourself and whatever’s been getting to you. In my experience this is a pretty essential first step. Even if you can’t dedicate hours to it, there’s no way to attack the issue and work through it if you haven’t identified it.
- Practice mindfulness.
Whether you are a regular practitioner of meditation or not, mindfulness work is especially crucial when stresses pile up. Guided sessions, stillness in general, journaling, silent yoga, are all great ways to remove some of the unnecessary and harmful junk from your mind so you can focus on the important things. I’ve found that spending time in peaceful, silent thought about the things I’m starting to stress about is hugely helpful in putting things back in perspective.
- Talk it out.
Find someone who knows who you are, where you’ve been, what you’re working toward, and values that and tell them about what’s been going on for you. Let them in on the struggle. Seek out a compassionate, encouraging supportive person or two and let them remind you of the total boss that you. Just talking it through and having someone sympathize, take your side, and remind you that it’s going to get better, can have huge impact.
Notice that I didn’t recommend that you just text the first girlfriend in your phone to meet for lattes and complaining about life. Don’t try to explain the challenges of “the grind” to someone who doesn’t value what you’re working toward. Don’t take the precious obstacles you’ve been growing over and try to explain them to people who are threatened by your progress.
- Immerse yourself in inspiration.
Hopefully you have some places in your life where you get inspiration from people who are doing what you want to do or have what you want to achieve. Now is the time to surround yourself with images of those goals. This is why people have “vision boards”. Research and life experience have taught us that our mind thinks in pictures and the best way to keep it going and make things happen is to show our minds exactly what we’re working toward. Curate an Instagram feed of people who are successful in the areas you want to grow. Make a Pintrest board full of photos of the place you want to live, the things you want to do, the library you are going to fill with your authored books. The most common suggestion is to scour magazines and the Internet for images that reflect your end goals. Print those suckers off and plaster them on a board that you can check out daily. Make them powerful, make them specific. When you start losing focus and momentum take some time to soak up the goodness of your vision board.
- Get outside.
Whether you prefer watching people while meandering through a park, wandering in the woods, or sitting still absorbing the energy of just being outside, find a way to get in nature. The fresh air alone will change your mental chemistry and start to relieve stress. If you want it to me most effective spend some time thinking about the way that you feel most connected to nature. Are you calmed when you sit in the trees? Energized by the sound of waves on the beach? Feel most powerful when standing on the top of a mountain? Get out there and figure out what charges you most, and what brings you the most energy. When you need a change in perspective you’ll be glad you know this about yourself.
- Change your physical state.
At Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within, we spent a huge portion of the time learning about the connection between physical state and mental state. One of the most amazing things about the conference was the feelings that we could muster simply by changing what our bodies were doing. It may seem as though your feelings create your physical posture, but amazingly, your physical posture can also change your feelings. Starting to feel discouraged, shoulders slumping, head down, uninspired? Take a minute to dance around your apartment to your favorite jams. Feel like you’ve messed up your plans one too many times to be able to recover? Go for a run. Stretch your body. Hug somebody. Walk so silly that John Cleese would be proud. Even the most morose of people can’t help but feel differently when they are shaking their booty to some Shakira. I’ve seen it. It’s beautiful.
- Do something luxurious.
Sometimes discouragement and lack of motivation stems from not feeling like you are worthy of the thing that you are working toward. Not good enough to be successful. We’ve explored your incredible worth in the past, but I’ll tell you again, the fact that you are here means that you were meant for extraordinary things, and incredible experiences. It helps to remind your brain and body of that sometimes. When looking at photos and imagining what you’re working towards doesn’t seem to work it’s a powerful sign to your body and mind to treat it well. Your mind will have a much harder time telling you that you don’t deserve success over the sound of flutes while you get a massage. Your shiny new manicure will remind you of just how special and gifted you are.
Note that luxurious doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. Taking a test drive in a “luxury automobile”. Get your friends together and give each other manicures. Take a bath with bubbles that smell like “melting cupcake” or “lavender sunrise” or something. Find anything in your budget that makes you feel special, loved, taken care of and most importantly worth it.
- Give yourself a break.
There will be days when you try everything and you still feel like junk. Days when your friends are busy, other people’s success feels mocking, sitting next to a waterfall in a sunny rainforest is still not enough. On those days, instead of giving up altogether, give yourself a break. Order takeout. Leave work early. Read the silly chick-lit novel. Watch a sappy movie. Wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket and hibernate on the couch. Make cookies in your pajamas and eat three without judgement about your eating plan. This is a tiny blip on the timeline of your life and tomorrow is another day. Take a deep breath and give yourself a hug. Changing the world is a big task. You can tackle it again tomorrow.
What have you found helpful in battling the blues? When the going gets tough what are your strategies for keeping on? I’d love to hear them!