Rise to the challenge
Whatever goal you have set for yourself this year, rising to the challenge simply means you are going to take the action necessary to make your dream a reality. Sometimes the action you need to take is little more than getting started, but other times, you are going to need to dig deep to take the next step. When dealing with procrastination, you will find negative self talk is a leading cause of inaction.
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1. Negative self talk
If you have negative self talk, it is going to make it difficult for you to take action. What do I mean by negative self talk? To keep things simple, let’s define negative self talk as the voice inside that is giving you reasons to not take the positive action you want in your life.
This voice could be as subtle as the reasons you think of to procrastinate from calling your parents or going to the gym. It could be the voice that keeps you from finishing your book or a project from school. Your negative self talk causes you to feel overwhelmed, so your natural reaction is to escape. You may escape through social media, checking your emails, or playing a game on your phone. More destructive escapes can include abuse of alcohol, smoking, or overeating.
The key to recognizing your negative self talk is to notice what you are thinking when you begin to hesitate away from the action you should take.
Stop trying to escape and start building
The problem with escaping through the above methods is your life has not changed. You may feel better for a second or two, but over the long-term you will feel worse because your life hasn’t improved. In many instances, your life will decline as a result of you not take taking the action you need to take.
Think of the resolution you made last year. Can you think of any one event that caused you to miss your goal? Probably not. The reality is you made small decisions each day over the course of the year that created your results.
How to turn negative self talk into positive self talk
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2. Don’t beat yourself up
This is the first place we all start. When we do something we shouldn’t do, the first thing you start to think is here we go again. Then you think of all the times you promised yourself change and it never happened. I get it. You feel stressed because you are short on time, and you are short on time because you have been procrastinating.
However, beating yourself up is not going to change that, it is only going to make things worse. It is like when I am stressed, I usually eat a donut, but when I eat donuts, I feel crappy because I am not eating healthy. Then I feel a little worst and what do I do to feel better? You already know, I eat more donuts and the cycle continues.
Talk yourself off the ledge
To break the cycle you need to recognize that you feel overwhelmed and have a conversation with yourself. This conversation does not have to be any elaborate, but you want to explore why you feel overwhelmed. You may find that you have a good reason; i.e., you have not prepared for your presentation or you have not studied for test. Feelings of inadequacy should not be seen as an internal problem, but more of a preparation issue. If you are not adequately prepared for the goal you have set for yourself, then you need to invest the time preparing.
Allow yourself to make small changes so you can start to see your life change. Remind yourself that if you continue to escape your life, you will never have a life worth living. You will only have a life you feel the need to continue to escape from.
Stop trying to be perfect
Perfectionism is going to cause a lot of people to never take the action necessary to achieve their goal. Things can always be better, but that does not mean you cannot start. That is one of the reasons I have committed to putting out content every day. I know I can convince myself in a moment that my content is not worth putting out and I will make the changes tomorrow. By giving myself a tight deadline, there is no longer an ability to put off today’s concerns another day. Tomorrow has enough issues of its own.
Everyone is seeking happiness. Happiness for most is the feeling of being accepted. By acceptance, we are not talking about bending to whatever society is asking of you, but that you are accepted for who you are. This starts with you accepting yourself enough to be transparent about whom you are. Happiness starts from within and the 70% of people who are not happy with their life is because they are not allowing their true feelings to be expressed.
3. Focus on the things you can control
Have you ever noticed the commercials where 4 out of 5 doctors recommend the product? It doesn’t seem to matter what the designer does, they are never able to get 5 out of 5 to recommend their product. Now imagine if you spend all of your time attempting to get 5 out of 5 people to like an idea of yours?
I use to spend so much preparing for a call or presentation because I wanted to get the sale. I was trying to find a way to guarantee I would get a “yes”. Now if you have ever asked anyone anything, you cannot guarantee a yes or a no. There are going to be times you have the worst presentation of your life and the person still buys and there are going to be times where have your best presentation and the person says no.
What you learn is the reaction of the person has less to do with that you are saying and more to do with the things going on in their life.
Reward yourself along the way
As you live your achojah life and rise to the challenge, you need to reward yourself from time to time. Do not wait until the journey is over to celebrate. Studies show whenever you reward yourself, your mind will start to link positive emotions with that action.
Another way to look at this is like potty training your kid. When my wife and I potty trained Alek, we would give her a treat every time she went to the bathroom on the toilet. Well it didn’t take her long to realize the more she went to the bathroom the more treats she received. So to increase her rewards, she would only go to the bathroom a little bit each time. As a result, she was going to the bathroom twenty times a day because she wanted her reward. Now while she took advantage of the system, it shows that our mind likes rewards.
By you rewarding yourself for taking even the smallest action, it is only going to increase the likelihood of you taking action again. Before you know it, you will be like Alek and taking more action than ever before.
Take time off
The goal is to build habits that allow you to build a consistent lifestyle. With that in mind, you don’t need to change your life in a day, a week or even a month. Instead, if you focus on creating daily habits first with small easy steps, then when you have the habit you can start to increase the intensity.
For example, if you want to train for a marathon. Instead of running a mile a day, start with a short walk. As your cardio increases, you can increase the effort you exert on your walk. By taking it easy, you increase the change of you solidifying the habit before you start running. The mistake most people make is they start running, then their body is worn and they can barely move the next day. Then you find yourself taking off a couple days to recover and you lost your habit before it even started. Start by walking, then work into a walk/run, and then start running. Darren Hardy in his book, the Compound Effect has a great illustration on how he trained someone for a marathon over several months with a slow methodical approach.
Remember happiness is internal. It is and has always been what is inside you. My focus is to help you discover ways to hear the message of your inner drum. The external stuff is nice, but it is not really going to move the needle. It is a reminder of the passage that asks the question, what good is it to gain the whole and lose your soul? Another way to look at it is to ask yourself, ‘am I willing to give my soul in exchange for the world’?
Spoiler-alert, the answer should be no. Your soul is priceless and if you really think about it, the 70% of people who are not happy are likely living a life that compromises their soul. Don’t live a life that has you wondering if you can give all the stuff back to get your soul back. Learn to be happy every day regardless of the situation.
Until next time,
Dre ‘Living the achojah life‘ Griggs