If you are like most of the human race, there is some part of you that holds deep desires, things you long to achieve, goals on which you’ve given up, if you ever started, at all. Our routines develop partially from choice, partially from default and the rest, from necessity. I would even go so far as to say that “choice” is the number one factor in how we spend our days, hence, our lives. If, by week’s end, there is hardly any difference from one day to the next, chances are, you aren’t putting in the work to materialize those dreams you have chosen, instead, to ignore. We may be quick to label the lack of action as laziness. In reality, we don’t know where to begin. Goals are not simply miniscule, easily performed taskers. But, breaking down the elephant to a bite at a time, (that phrase HAD to be coined by someone who’d had too much to drink, and it somehow stuck) makes the goals not only achievable, it creates a flow chart that ends with your success. No matter the desire, this modality is not only helpful, but imperative as you set about changes required to end your monotonous lifestyle that is a barrier to the life you want to live. To be so bold as to construct a list of “musts” detailing just how to manifest your dreams, I’ll simply qualify my recommendations by saying they are 100% derived from experience. Either my own, or through the experience of helping others…from interpersonal conflict, to quitting one’s drug of choice and going on to live a successful, productive life, to learning how to be a single parent… When humans truly roll up their sleeves and are willing to get dirty, devoid of personal gain, incredible things happen. Part of why I dedicate my life to helping others achieve the best version of themselves is that someone did it for me. They did it more than once, in more than one area of my life. So, whether blissfully ignoring your deepest desires, or spending every free moment wishing for the life you know you were meant to live, here’s how:
1.) Work just as hard after the enthusiasm wanes.
It’s day one and it’s exciting. The day you begin your journey toward your holy grail. You’re nervous, giddy, doubtful, thrilled, hopeful and proud. You’ve taken action to move toward all that’s eluded you. Suddenly, it’s day 293. You’re not excited. You’re not giddy. You’re more doubtful than ever. The thrill, hope and pride left around day 62 and you’ve been going through the motions, since. Here’s the secret sauce: You will NOT wake up excited and ready to charge your barriers every time the sun rises. You DO have to act with the same amount of dedication, perseverance and determination as on day one. You won’t feel like doing the work. Do it anyway. It’s raining. Do it anyway. You need to get up early tomorrow. Too bad, stay up late and do it, anyway. When you treat your goals like a job in which you are working for yourself, and you hold yourself as accountable for showing up to work as you would any employee, you’ll see results. You won’t be getting paid for this work…not yet, not monetarily. THE REWARD IS DOING THE WORK, RELENTLESSLY. That’s your pay. Falling into bed at night, or in the wee hours, (because, there will be wee hours) having done everything you need to do that day is a soul marinade. Bask. Sleep. Repeat.
2.) Work Quietly.
When you make the decision to pursue a lofty goal, chances are, you’ll feel the urge to share it. Resist these initial impulses to disclose your project to anyone. Set about your tasks silently as you move to next level living. The ones who need to know will know soon enough. And, not everyone we consider a friend wants to see us succeed. You know the type. They are never genuinely enthused for another. While their mouths say, “Congratulations,” their face betrays them and the green monster shows up in weird ways. It may be in the form of “only playing devil’s advocate,” or it may be as blatant as scoffing at the ridiculousness of having such dreams. Rest assured, these people are not trying to help you save face by encouraging you to dash your desires. They are fairly certain you WILL attain the life you’re after and they will still be living Monday through Friday with no real distinction from one day to the next. When you have settled into a solid routine of working daily, regardless of enthusiasm, your unclouded thinking will guide you as to whom, if anyone, you should let in on your secret journey. After much effort and time, however, you are likely to find that you’d much prefer to keep your new life on the down low until it has blossomed like the lotus it is.
3.) Positive self talk is as vital as tangible work.
So, you’re putting in the time. You’re staying up late, getting up early, bypassing weekend plans because you’ve set a deadline for yourself. Basically, you’re doing everything right and you’re not seeing results. Is your head in the game? Are you your biggest cheerleader or do you bully yourself, feeling that it’s still not enough and it’s never gonna work, and you don’t even know why you’re trying? If you do not believe in your dreams, 100%, to the point that you can already see yourself living them, stop wasting time until the thoughts match the actions. It’s that important. Will it feel like utter nonsense the first time you state, out loud, that you have already reached your goal? Yep. Will it feel like utter nonsense after you’ve said it, out loud, everyday for three months? Nope. This positive self talk is digging a trench in your brain, and becoming the path of least resistance, like water carves through rock formations. Envisioning and believing that time is the final barrier is a game changer. You are no longer up against excuses, procrastination and naysayers. YOU are up against YOU. YOU have the power to finally realize your potential, and if you’re feeding off of self doubt and fear of failure, you’re exponentially lengthening the time it will take to get there. Morning and night, you should be telling yourself this thing that once seemed like a long shot, is already yours. Own it, now. Conjure it, now. Picture how a day in that new life will actually look. Begin with waking up in the morning. Whatever this desire is, it will show up throughout your day as you imagine that it’s yours. Since it already is, and SINCE you’re doing the work, go ahead and enjoy the thought of it. Negative talk is precisely why we are following rule #2. You got this, and you’re gonna get this.
4.) Schedule a day off
In all this talk of work, work, work…it is imperative that you decide on a day of the week in which you do nothing in regards to your new life. Treating this schedule as just that, you are much less likely to slough off responsibilities on a random Thursday. It’s tempting to take the entire weekend off. It’s been my experience that working one day during the weekend toward my goals is beneficial for a few reasons. There will typically be fewer things tugging at you during the weekend. (If so, these are things over which you have more control than through the week.) The ability to focus on your project without all the noise life creates offers leverage you may not find in the middle of the normal work week. Knowing, too, that a day off is never more than a week away quenches the temptation to ignore your work when you’re on mental overload. And, when that happens, we have rule #5…
5.) Eliminate distractions
If we could see a pie chart of how we spend the minutes and hours in a given day, we’d likely be baffled. Most of us don’t realize how much time we waste, because it’s done in such small increments. We check social media for 10 minutes, several times a day. We channel surf, not watching anything of value for an hour after work and maybe another hour before bed. We go down a hundred rabbit holes when we Google…anything. Before we realize it, we’ve watched 6 YouTube videos, read 3 articles and skimmed over reviews about some hotel in Milan. And, we’re not even going to Milan. Possibly, this is the first time in your life that you are going to truly eliminate distractions. Think of them as exactly what they are- time and energy vampires. Your distraction may be a person who is always hanging out and never honoring the boundary of your having told them you’re busy. They gotta go. They’re big boys and girls. They’ll be fine. If they demand more of your life than you have expressed you can give, they don’t deserve a gentle exit. They’ve proven their lack of respect for your journey and, for now, they don’t belong on it. Leave your phone unattended for gradually extended periods of time. Respond to text messages after you’re finished working on that day’s to-do’s. If there is a pressing matter, deal with it before you launch into your work. You will find yourself having fewer late nights and early mornings if your time management skills rise to meet the new level on which you want to live.
While we could expand this list to any number of desired requisites, I whole-heartedly live by these five creeds. If you put into action these specific recommendations, you will be amazed just how much more the same amount of work accomplishes. Laziness isn’t the problem. Most of us simply need a starting point. Here’s five. And, here’s to next level living, Warriors.