I finished an email today that was probably THE most fear-inducing, resistance-provoking, anxiety-producing email I have ever spent time on.
It was the email that would decide the future of the dreams I talked about in I’m Not Dreaming Big Enough.
A curious thing happened while I was working on this email.
Every time I would open the draft in google docs, I would literally, physically react. My body would clench. My heart would start beating faster. And in more cases than not, I would immediately navigate to a calming, safe site instead like Facebook or Pinterest.
Chances are, you’ve encountered this before, even if it wasn’t as extreme.
Resistance and the avoidance we use to put those tough tasks off threaten to keep us from growing or accomplishing anything.
We get “stuck” in the fearful state. But those fears need to be faced and conquered in order to move past them.
The thing was, this email needed to be sent in order for me to move forward with these plans. (I promise I’ll tell you more when I receive word back :))
I didn’t want to be like so many people, who talk themselves up so much that they never get around to getting anything done.
When it comes to big-deal tasks that take effort, doing can be harder than talking about it… which is why I’ve chosen not to speak openly about these dreams in detail yet. I don’t want to rely on the “social reality” without having accomplished anything.
Let me explain what that means…
As I mention in Make This Your Moment, recent research shows that those who tell people their goals are less likely to achieve them.
This is big news to the personal development world. For years, we’ve been touting the benefits of telling people about your goals in order to stay accountable. Now we’re being told that we’ve been wrong this whole time!
It makes a lot of sense, actually.
The tests identified that the feeling of telling someone what you’re trying to accomplish creates a “social reality.” Your mind thinks that you’ve already accomplished what you’re telling people about.
But how far do we really get talking the talk without walking the walk?
If I don’t exercise, I don’t stay in shape.
If I don’t practice mindfulness and positivity, I don’t feel happy.
If I don’t eat right, I don’t stay lean.
If I don’t write, Strong Inside Out goes nowhere.
So this feeling of accomplishment isn’t backed up by anything. I have a sneaky suspicion that once that initial feeling wears off, you’re gonna feel a lot of regret for not taking action.
I like to live a life of no regrets.
So I had to find a way to face the resistance around finishing that email and work through it, in order to take this necessary step. I had to become aware of my resistance, face my avoidance tactics and force myself to deal.
I faced a lot of fear. I took a lot of deep breaths. I even reached out to some of my most trusted friends for guidance.
And I sent it.
I’m experiencing so many feelings: scared, hopeful, excited, relieved… and accomplished.
This sense of accomplishment, however, is not the kind that will keep me from taking further steps. This is the one that drives me to grow.
The kind that drives me to write even when my eyes hurt and twitch from long hours at the computer. The kind that makes me feel like I’m doing something bigger than just myself.
What I want for you is this same motivating accomplishment. I want you to feel that drive from taking action, from doing those big things you keep talking about doing.
But we need to deal with resistance first. We need to find out what it is, and deal with it so that it loses power over us.
I want you to stop talking yourself up, and instead, start creating your life through actions. You can think as positively as you want and talk forever about everything you want to accomplish, but you know where that will get you? Into a life of regret and stagnation.
If you want to take your life past words and into experience, start here:
1. Become Aware of Resistance
The first step of this equation is becoming aware of what’s holding you back from taking action at all.
Those things that matter most to you that you keep putting off are going on your back burner for a reason.
If you went through last week’s post and did the exercise, you realize that the benefits of taking action far outweigh your excuses not to.
But what if you’re coming up against something bigger, like I did this week? What if it’s not just laziness or excuses, but a deep-seated fear of failure or rejection?
Well, identifying that resistance is what this step is all about.
When you start thinking about doing this big task, what thoughts do you start having, or do you have a physical reaction?
I listed what happened to me in the beginning of this post, and it could be similar for you. Other common reactions could include anxiety, hyperventilation, dreading spending time/effort, fear of judgment, shaking, loneliness or even embarrassment.
List them out if even in your head, just so you can identify what you’re up against.
2. Face Avoidance Tactics
These are the things you choose to do instead of getting the important thing done.
The list goes on and could include different things for you.
Identify the avoidance tactics you go to and why.
Is it mindless Pinterest-surfing, serving to get your brain to stop thinking/fearing/catastrophizing?
Is the feeling of loneliness causing you to turn to Facebook or Twitter?
Do you revel in other people’s accomplishments as they get posted on social media, rather than trying to build your own?
Tough questions here, I know, but we want to get to the bottom of this so that we can grow to the top.
Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself. You must face the hard stuff so you can break through to the other side of it.
Ok, you’ve identified your resistance and your avoidance tactics. Now what?
Time to walk through the fire, my friends.
Now that we know what we’re dealing with, it will be much easier to set up a “deal checklist.”
In order to deal, we’re gonna make a deal with ourselves.
Set up rules for yourself. I know, I know, I’m not a fan of rules either, but these can be really helpful when dealing with a lot of resistance.
For me, I would make myself focus and work on that email for 30 straight minutes at a time, no social media interspersed in there.
Yours might be turning off the phone for an hour at a time as you jam through a chapter in the book you’re working on.
Or you could force yourself to shut off the TV or put in headphones while you edit those photos you’ve been holding onto for so long.
Maybe even consider *gasp* shutting your phone off until you complete a specified chunk of work!
There are a lot of other things you can do to help motivate you to get this thing done. Here are some ideas:
Come up with a mantra
Ok, as hippie-dippy as it may sound, mantras are incredibly helpful if you can repeat them without self-judgment.
The cool thing? No one has to know that’s what you’re doing. ;)
These are some that have helped me along the way:
This will take time, but every minute I put in is a minute less I need to spend on it.
This is tough, but the harder I work on it, the better it will turn out in the end.
This work matters, and it’s all worth it.
Find dealing music
I turn to Spotify or Pandora when I need to focus focus focus. My favorite working music is a starred playlist I’ve compiled on Spotify of some random awesomeness: Yeasayer, Fun., Imagine Dragons, and yes, even some Phil Collins are just some of my recent favorites. Find what encourages you to do good work.
Now, this may be different from the mixes you play in the gym or in your car. We want music that motivates you to get sh** done, not to relax and do nothing to. Sooo, your bedside mix probably won’t fly here.
I know a lot of people that work best to classical music because they don’t get caught up in the lyrics. There are other more contemporary music options that don’t have lyrics, like The XX and Explosions In The Sky.
Play around a little and find what works for you.
I’m still in a state of numerous emotions. But I’m finally free of that nagging pit in my stomach that’s been around for the last month.
Do you have something important to do?
Trick question. We all do.
You are here for a reason. What’s yours?
I would normally ask you to share it in the comments below, but given the recent research, I’m going to advise you to keep it to yourself for now. :)
If you have any questions or concerns, however, don’t hesitate to post them below!
Anxiously, excitedly, fearfully, victoriously,