As we walk along through life, we often choose the path of least resistance. It’s natural to seek out this course…well-worn, safe, but likely absent of the events that will help us grow. Every day we decide whether we move forward or back – a subtle tango with ourselves and our standards.
It is also natural to conflate the notion of growth with the idea of “more.” But growth can come through removal, by shedding the things that no longer serve us. As you continue to grow, consider what you can give up in order to gain. And you can start here.
Release the need to:
Fill every moment of the day with tasks – It’s easy to stay hyperconnected, or busy, or attached to worries that can fill the hours. What’s more difficult is to detach, allow for silence, and reflect. It is only in these moments that tiny adjustments gain clarity. Can you recall having your best ideas when bogged down by 10 things at once? Or when you were caught in an otherwise unremarkable moment?
Please everyone – Freedom comes in the realization that it is not your responsibility to make every person in the world offer approval of what you do. Some may love it, others could care less. Find the one audience that matters most to you (this can be yourself!), and work to hold yourself accountable to these eyes.
Judge – Yourself and others. There is no grand tally score floating above our heads for who’s ahead in the human race. The only thing gained by this sort of negative self-talk/ derisive talk towards others is a weak soapbox upon which you can stand for moment as you try to relish in another’s downfall. When that person picks themselves up and moves on, you’re left with no foundation.
Keep Up with the Joneses – Just because someone bought their first personal jet doesn’t mean it’s time to put one on your credit card too. We all have different definitions of what will make us happy. Check in and make sure that what your coveting is actually something that will fulfill you rather than something you feel you should have.
Be right – Oh, the big one. A voracious, stubborn ego is not half so endearing as one that can admit when a mistake was made. Save yourself the headache and forgive yourself and others for past blunders. Do this as often as needed.
This playwright’s self-honesty and courage to face his flaws made for a persona whose personality defies his family name…and for plays laced with a wit all his own. Time to let your own mind off its leash.
“My body has certainly wandered a good deal, but I have an uneasy suspicion that my mind has not wandered enough.”
Sorry that I have been upset with you recently. It was surprising when I looked up and realized that this season was already bidding its adieus. I’ve chastised you for being too slow, angered when you seemed to go too fast. You were relentless, tempered. I was one shade less than peaceful. Wishing for extra moments wasn’t providing any…because you, with inimitable sageness, knew there were already enough. Exactly enough of you to go around. No more, no less. Now I realized that I’ve been trying to change you, instead of just letting you…be. So thank you for your patience. Forgive my need to rush or to hold you back.
Looking forward This is a perfect moment – thanks for being here for it.
Just beginning a project is often the most difficult part. Or perhaps the best. There is something so incredible alluring and completely daunting about a blank slate. The past no longer plays a part, and a new chance presents itself. This next step has to come from somewhere new, somewhere deeper, somewhere untouched if it is to be honest.
But how to kickstart yourself into action?
1. Dive in. One can only plan for so long before you realize that the real reason you’re still in “planning phases” is because you’re a little wary of the leap. Small actions add up quickly. Do something every day to help you along your way.
2. Prepare yourself for success rather than begin to bolster yourself against the sting of failure. Failure’s such a misleading term anyway. All the times I have grown the most in my life have resulted from what could easily have been dubbed a “failure.” And this is because failures bruise the ego. If an experience embarrassed us in some way, we are more likely to retain the lesson. The embarrassment spurs us to be hyperaware of all that happened and we rifle through the past for all of our missteps. We glean all that we can from the process so that we may never tread down the same path only to repeat the mistake in our future. So no need to fear failure – use it to push you towards your goal.
3. Reach out to others. If you need help, don’t remain silent – most people are not mind-readers. They will need to hear that you are looking for support before they offer it willingly.
4. If you don’t know how to do something, ask. It does no good to be proud when it comes to things we have yet to learn. Not one single person on this earth knows everything, so don’t pretend like you do. Look for ways to expand your knowledge every day.
5. Pull from everywhere, let anything inspire you. Who is to say what will stop you in your tracks and motivate you? A forest one day, an old CD from your childhood the next. Do not censor the influx of images and influences around you. If Wagner moves you, great. If the Teletubbies do, good on’ ya. Just make it work.
6. Stop waiting for a perfect time. There is no such thing as the “perfect time.” There will always be other activities or events to keep you from the work. Stop stalling, start doing.
“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway“
- Earl Nightingale
We are a culture of wanting, a generation of impatience. Without instant answers we let muddled, hurried thoughts lead us to frustration – “if not now, then when?” – and subsequently abandon the path before reaching its first curve. We want the results without the work. How can we ensure that we reach our goal when the clock on the wall seems to show time zooming by at a frightening pace?
1. Train your mind in patience. Start small, set little boundaries, challenge yourself. Promise yourself to do an extra set of crunches, try 24 hours without social media, or put your favorite guilty-pleasure food at the edge of your desk, and see if you can go 8 hours without touching it. Little successes add up to big ones in time. Each step is significant.
2. Make a list. Of 10 things you would do if time were no issue, if no obstacles stood in your way. Look again at the list. Realize that each one of these things is possible – the obstacles are the excuses we make for ourselves. Pick one and commit 30 days to getting closer to that goal. You reach the end of a month and it’s still not done? Well, you’re 30 days closer than you would have been had the idea just stayed on paper. Put time into it, get something out of it.
3. Refrain from patting yourself on the back. Studies actually show that if you tell everyone that you’re planning on doing something, you get the same emotional response as if you had actually completed the task. Ex. if you say “I’m going to run a marathon,” and everyone gives you a thumbs up and says “great” before you’ve even bought a pair of running shoes, this little convo can stop you from following through with your initial plan; you already received validation. So be hard on yourself. Keep chugging along whether or not others cheer you on. The reward comes from the journey itself, not only the result.
4. Acknowledge those who doubt you, but don’t let them slow you down. There will always be people that think what you are doing is crazy/not worth your time/impossible/silly/whatever – but that’s why it’s your dream, not theirs. Use any concern and skepticism as fuel. Just like a drill sergeant who whips you into shape, let their words ring in your ears just long enough to light a fire under you. Then go. Do, create, be, and never look back.
5.Keep going. No matter what. Even if the path does not take you where you expected it would, you’ve learned something. And your brain thanks you for it, I’m sure of it.