Do you ever feel like it is WAY too easy to feel drained, deflated, defeated, and/or discouraged when you’re trying to make progress in your life?
I remember going on walks around our hilly neighborhood back in 2008 when Spencer and Ethan were in the jogging stroller, Grace was on a scooter next to us, and Alia was riding her two-wheeler. There was one hill in particular that was too steep for Alia to pedal, so I would tie the long wrist strap from the jogger to the front of her handlebars and pull her up the hill while she pedaled as well as she could.
My steps were laborious, and sometimes I would look at the other joggers (who were sprinting along, listening to music), and I felt like my situation was dooming me to a slow, unproductive workout.
In hindsight, however, I can see what you can probably see. Even though I was walking slowly, I was building strength as I worked against resistance, and that’s what all of us are doing in our lives, in one way or another.
Maybe you’re trying to get organized, but your family is making piles of clutter faster than you can combat them.
Maybe you’re trying to improve a relationship, but you’re met with grumpiness, complaining, and negativity with pretty much every interaction.
Maybe you’re building a business or getting a certification or trying to complete a big project, and it feels like there’s one delay or cancellation or setback after another.
So today I’m inviting all of us to get past the normal entropy that’s typical of life–and strengthen our mindsets with 10 thoughts and quotes that have given me a boost this past week.
***And just a quick request…. If these ideas strengthen you today, please consider sharing them with a friend who could also use a lift. You could email or text this post to a friend, share it on social media, or even write us a review on Apple podcasts so more people can learn about LearnDoBecome. Thank you!!
All right, on to the 10 ideas for today:
(1) “It’s easier to act your way into new ways of thinking than to think your way into new ways of acting.” – J. P. Allen
Something special happens when we start to move. Microbursts, for example, are a great way to do so. Ten minutes of tidying an area in your home, making that necessary phone call, doing something to move a project forward, etc. can build valuable momentum.
It’s tempting to think, “I’ll just rest here until I feel like doing something.” But that feeling rarely comes. Little steps. Little bursts of progress. A simple act of kindness. A few minutes doing something that feels hard. Action is powerful.
(2) “No challenge in your life is there to tear you down.” – Alex, a Community Member
This was a great reminder that “the world isn’t out to get us.” For those of you who believe in a higher power, you could also couple this with, “God wants to build us up.”
We can get cranky sometimes when we put ourselves into a victim mentality, but an awesome, subtle shift happens when we go from “Why do I always have to deal with frustrating people/situations?” to “How can I become a stronger, more capable person as a result of handling this situation with calmness and courage?”
(3) When you put healthy catalysts into your life, great things happen with less energy needed from YOU.
This was shared by our friend Doug. He’s in a chemistry class at our local university, and he told us that a catalyst lowers the “activation energy” needed to make something happen. For example, he’d been wanting to buy a nice pair of sunglasses, but he kept putting it off. Then he saw a cool movie where the characters were wearing those exact glasses, and he was so inspired that he went and bought them right away. He said the activation energy was reduced. 🙂 He then went on to share how encouragement from friends helps him to make good choices throughout the week.
In our ARISE membership this month, we’ve been talking about reducing our cognitive load, and the principle is very similar. When things aren’t draining us–and when we come up with solutions in our lives that act as catalysts, it feels so much easier to move toward our goals.
(The book “Effortless” by Greg McKeown also discusses this idea powerfully.)
In my life, a weekly sticker chart where I earn stickers when I go outside my comfort zone has motivated me to push myself in good directions.
A posted workout schedule with all the exercises pre-defined and assigned to specific days of the week–and workouts added to my calendar–have made it fun to wake up and get moving early each day. Inspiring podcasts that remind me that I have something important to do in this world and that I don’t need to be afraid have been hugely helpful to keep me from shrinking back in fear or apathy.
What kinds of catalysts have worked for you? Or where do you need a catalyst in your life?
(4) “When you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them. When you argue for your possibilities, you get to create them.” -Kelly Lee Phipps
Ahhhh, so good. About 20 years ago, I had an “early-life crisis.” I was home all day with our first baby–with no TV, Internet, car, or budget, and I felt pretty depressed from the isolation and monotonous schedule. I remember talking with several family members and friends and telling them how sad I was, and they kept making suggestions about things I could do.
- How about volunteering for an organization?
- Learning how to cook?
- Taking a class at a local college?
But no matter what they said, I had an excuse at the ready.
- My baby is fussy and unpredictable, and I don’t need more things to “do.”
- I don’t have money to buy ingredients, and the baby would probably be crying the whole time I tried to cook.
- It would be too hard to get a sitter, and I just finished school. I don’t even know what I would do with the extra education.
I was committed to those limitations.
Sometimes I still find myself doing this, but I’m trying to stop the excuses, listen more openly to suggestions, and argue for the possibilities.
(5) “I never LOSE, I either WIN or LEARN.” – Nelson Mandela
In cognitive behavioral therapy, two common distortions are “labeling” and “all-or-nothing thinking.”
Whenever I do my mood logs (if I’m having a down day), I find that I am guilty of both. I’ll have thoughts like, “I’m a failure” or “I’m failing at (fill in the blank).”
This quote pretty much eliminates the possibility of failure in our lives.
Running LearnDoBecome, for example, is a huge joy in my life, but it’s also a heavy responsibility. I could make a huge list of things that have gone wrong with the technology behind the scenes, desires I’ve had to put on hold for one reason or another, efforts I thought would make an impact, but ended up falling kind of flat, and unhelpful ways I’ve compared myself to other people online.
But in a lot of ways, we’ve had huge “wins.” YOUR huge wins, in particular, are what inspire us. And when I even start to think about everything I’ve learned over the last 7 years, I feel my heart fill with gratitude for the opportunities.
If you set up a new routine for your Weekly Review, but you haven’t done a single one yet, that’s okay. You’ve learned at least one method that doesn’t work for you.
If you put a bunch of projects on your list and then felt overwhelmed and didn’t want to do any of them, you’ve learned that you need to adjust the expectations you have for yourself. (I’m going through a little of that right now…)
“Winning” and “learning” are both winning in my book.
(6) Own the things you’re passionate about.
Eric and I took our boys to a young entrepreneurs’ conference, and during one session, they asked some teenagers to give really bad advice to their peers about business or marketing. (It’s kind of a long story as to why they did that, but I’ll just get to the point.)
One girl said, “Pursue things you’re not passionate about.”
The interviewer responded with, “And what about the things you are passionate about?”
The girl answered, “Let other people do them.”
Okay, I can’t really explain what happened inside me, but I had a visceral, almost angry response. There are a few things I am VERY passionate about, but I haven’t been pursuing them as actively as I’d like because I’ve been letting other obligations/responsibilities get in the way. I could build my schedule more closely around my passions, but I’ve still got some limiting beliefs standing in the way.
However, as I pictured someone else doing the things that I feel I’m meant to do, that inner/true “April” said, “Oh no–please give the opportunity to me.”
I’m not sure if you have something similar going on inside you–maybe some inner turmoil between who you feel you’re meant to be and who you are actually being?
But I think it’s time we listen to that deeper voice.
(7) You don’t attract who you want–you attract who you are.
Not sure I have much to add on this, but I want to become the person who naturally experiences those dreams that are buried deep inside me. It’s requiring some daily shifts in my thought processes, and it’s forcing me to evaluate each day and make course-corrections for the next day, but it also feels really exciting.
(8) Don’t focus on what you don’t have. Focus on what you do have. -Kristine Mirelle
Kristine was one of the speakers at the entrepreneurial conference we attended. She shared a story from a few years ago when she was a single mom, trying to earn an income to support herself and her son, and she was living with her parents in New Mexico–hoping to sell an ebook to help singers, but she didn’t have Wi-Fi or a big budget or a recording studio or anything like that to help her start her business.
Instead, she came up with really funny advertisements using props around her house, and then she would drive into town later in the day and upload them from there.
She had all the reasons in the world to feel discouraged, but she moved forward with her creativity, and that creativity has put her in an amazing position to provide for herself and her son–and to make a difference for others.
(9) Nobody is successful until they are. – Zach Pincince
This thought made me laugh because it’s essentially stating the obvious, but think about it a second.
Nobody is “organized” until they are.
Nobody has a strong marriage until they build one.
Nobody heals from trauma until they do.
All those people out there who seem like they have it together had to start somewhere–just like we do.
That makes me smile. 🙂
(10) If the words “go faster” keep racing through my mind, it is definitely time to slow down.
This is an aha that I had while Eric and I were driving out to his sister’s wedding a couple of weeks ago. I had a list of computer projects I’d planned to work on during the 14-hour drive there, but the roads were fulls of twists, turns, and hills, during some parts, we were driving late at night when I was tired, and I kept getting car sick whenever I opened my computer.
I have a habit of telling myself, “April, you’re not going fast enough. You should be getting more done. More projects. More deliverables. More to show for your life.” And if you do that, too, you know how unhealthy that is.
I finally sat down and made a chart of things I keep telling myself (subconsciously) and what hidden beliefs they represent.
For that statement that “I always need to go faster,” I think it’s secretly saying, “God expects more of you than you can physically accomplish.”
Now when I write that down, it obviously looks ridiculous, but I have to find some way to turn that idea permanently off. (Eric says it’s a switch I need to flip, but I feel like it keeps turning back on…)
I love the work that I do, and the more I learn and grow, the bigger my vision grows. You’ve probably noticed that in your life, too. But consistency, sustainability, and grace with myself works so much better in the end. When I prioritize people, health, rest, and impressions that come to me during the day, I still make quite a bit of progress, but it leaves me feeling happy, supported, light, and focused. Whenever I force myself to “sprint” in order to achieve some random level of success that has either been defined by me or someone else, I feel depleted, behind, cranky, and panicked.
We often hear how “massive action” and “knocking our goals out of the park” are the keys to success, but the farther along I get in this life journey, the more I define success as “moving forward on my purpose in sustainable, healthy ways.”
All right, that’s all for today! In my heart, I would be doing so much more for you…every day. But my hope is that by sharing where I’m weak–and talking through what’s going on in my head–you can know that you’re not alone. And I hope that as you see me moving forward at a sustainable pace that keeps me and my family healthy, you can increase your confidence in yourself to do the same.
ARISE Membership – Have you joined yet? There’s a 7-day free trial, and this is the BEST way to connect with me, Eric, and Team LearnDoBecome in a small(er) group setting as you create a life you can’t wait to wake up and live.
Effortless by Greg McKeown (Amazon Affiliate Store)
When Panic Attacks by David Burns (Amazon Affiliate Store)