Do you ever daydream about being something different or better than you are or achieving great dreams? Do you ever wonder how you got where you are? Take a minute to think about it.
Some people will say “I have no idea how I got here”. But the answer is simple, we got where we are today through action. Every past action, fueled by a past decision made us who we are today – both the positive and the negative.
If you feel overweight, unhealthy, lazy or lethargic… it’s all the outcome of past action. Even choosing not to do something, not to exercise is an action in itself. Whether intentional or not, a deliberate decision was made.
Now for the good news. How can you turn your life around and achieve all those dreams, those “stories” running around in your mind? To be slimmer, to be fitter, to be healthier, to have adventures with your kids.
The exact same way you got where you are today is the answer. What you do today, and tomorrow and next week will determine who you are in the future.
What Do You Believe About Yourself?
If you are like most people, you have stories and schemas about yourself. These stories were created over time by our experiences and our beliefs. But the thing about belief is it’s often based on perspective – not facts.
When we experience an event our mind creates an interpretation of the event. Depending on our habitual thinking style, it may be a negative interpretation or a positive interpretation.
If you have certain negative aspects you believe about yourself, your mind will usually grab hold of negative interpretations in order to reinforce those beliefs.
For example, “I am so lazy”. So you didn’t exercise today? There’s another interpretation of the day to reinforce the schema. Never mind the fact that you drove 90 minutes to work and put in a 9 hour day. I am are two very powerful words.
So you can see how we pick and choose close-minded perspective to reinforce our negative schemas. The thing about these schemas is they are what holds us back from taking action. Action to change.
So how do we combat these schemas? We can challenge them, with evidence and examples of why they aren’t true. But the thing is, this can often take more energy and time.
Another option is to use mindfulness and accept the thought for what it is, just a thought… a feeling is just a feeling. We don’t need to judge them as “good” or “bad”. Simply thank the mind, and then take action.
Just like any skill, this takes practice and one of the best ways to practice mindfulness is with a meditation application such as Headspace. Practice for 10 to 20 minutes every day, and pay special attention to the daily Headspace meditations. They are often full of great insight and wisdom.
The Only Way You Can Fail is if You Quit
Here’s the thing about action. Especially new action. It is hard work and there are no shortcuts. But if that sound’s like a bad thing just look at the upside: Doing the work creates growth.
Growth is an essential part of not only being a better person but of living. If all you do is sit around and watch TV all weekend, do you feel fulfilled?
If you strive to never learn anything new do you feel challenged? I know I don’t.
Now another inevitable part of trying new things. Learning new things. Doing new things. You will likely fail. I will fail. Everyone else has failed, too.
But the thing is, the only way you can truly fail is if you quit. Failure is an essential part of growth because failure teaches us what not to do, what doesn’t work.
Failure is success in progress — Albert Einstein
Think back to when you were a baby. We probably can’t remember our first-hand experience, but most of us have seen a baby attempt its first steps. And the baby likely fell back on its ass.
Just like the baby, we failed too… but then we persisted. Essentially, we learned what not to do. It seems so subtle but if you think deeply about everything we learned to do for the first time there are possibly thousands of micro failures until eventually, we succeeded.
Every single thing we take for granted today was built upon failure. The car you drive, the chair you sit in, the electricity you use. If humans didn’t fail, we would be extinct. Embrace your failures and persist.
If you are still reading at this point and feeling inspired you may be thinking “That’s all well and good but how do I get started?” Start by doing the actions of your future self, today.
If you want to be slimmer and healthier, skip a sugary drink today. If you want to be fitter and have more energy, take a walk around the block today.
You don’t need to do everything today. You just need to start today. If you are looking for the elevator the bad news is, there are no shortcuts. The good news is, there are no shortcuts.
You’re going to have to take the stairs one step at a time. The very first step might seem enormous. But over time the steps will get easier and require much less effort.
The only thing you need to remember is to do something and do not quit. There will be times when you feel like quitting, but then you wake up the next day you simply persist. Remember quitting is only quitting if you don’t restart.
So when are you going to start? Today.