When discussing a wildly successful person, I’m sure you’ve heard this:
“He was at the right place and the right time. Sure it was a good idea but it was mostly luck.”
Some negative nabob throws a wet blanket on the idea that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. However, there is an element of truth to this statement. Success does have a large component of luck but there is more to the story.
Was Bill Gates in the right place at the right time with the right idea? Yes. Was that luck? Yes.
Were the Beatles in the right place at the right time with the right music? Yes, and that was luck too.
There are countless stories like these. But there is a missing act to this narrative; all the practice, studying, effort, and failure that led up to that lucky moment.
Writers all start with shitty first drafts, then they rewrite and revise and edit, then they submit it to other writers for criticism, then they rewrite and revise again. After all that work, their first works will face repeated rejection (even the greats like Stephen King). The ‘lucky’ ones will work and fail until they ‘just get lucky.”
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky
If you step onto a golf course having never swung and club, what are the odds of hitting a hole in one – worse than 50,000,000 to 1. How about if you played 36 holes a day, had professional training, and you had achieved a low handicap? Now your odds are 5,000 to 1. Does it still take luck? Yes it does, but your hard work and training has improved you odds by 1,000,000x!
“The harder I work, the luckier I get” – Samuel Goldwyn
But there is more to it than just hard work, it takes accepting failure as the natural path toward your goal.
Accept this: Without failure – you stagnate – improvement ends. Since perfection is unachievable, improvement is all you can work toward.
If you’re feeling unlucky today, pick your head up, puff your chest out little, and take another shot.
A friend pointed out how judgmentalism holds people back. (I know some of you are already thinking ‘judgmentalism…’is that even a word? I don’t care if it is or it isn’t, you know what I mean. So stop being so judgmental 🙂 )
Judgmentalism is just as destructive as all the other -isms.
She told a story about a coworker of hers who was smart, talented, and savvy, seemingly having everything one needed to climb to the next level. So what was holding him back? His judgmental view of others.
He would talk behind other people’s backs and purposely exclude others. When specific names were mentioned his sarcam would drip and he’d hurl snide remarks meant to insult. Nothing angry, it didn’t jump at you, and if you weren’t paying attention you would get a sick feeling and not be sure why. He was clearly trying to separate himself from ‘losers.’
So why does he do this if it isolates him and makes others feel sick? It works for him. It makes him feel safe. He’s built cliques, secret little clubs with only people who are worthy of his inflated sense of self-importance. These cliques attract people with the promise of being part of something that makes you better than others. These cliques attract judgmental people, bullies, and the insecure by definition. It is a passive aggressive social club.
How does it hold him back? It keeps him from connecting with people who are different from him which stifles growth. It blocks him from making deep social connections. It prevents him from developing alliances that he will need when he wants to accomplish his goals. It makes him look immature.
I began to recall the many times I was involved in this judgmental social behavior, either as the judge, the listener, or the judged, and I realized how destructive it was. Each time it felt like it bruised my soul and I vowed to try to never participate in it again.
Does that mean we need to hold back all judgment? No. We need to choose with whom we spend our time. We need to decide who to hire. Almost all great humor requires am element of judgment or stereotyping.
It means we would be better off if we suspend uttering judgments of others when we are speaking about specific people.
…he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her… – Jesus Christ speaking to the scribes and Pharisees who were asking him to condemn a woman accused of adultery.
Having self confidence is one of the biggest keys to your success. If you do not believe in yourself, it is difficult to accomplish any worthwhile mission. Further, if you do not exude a sense of confidence, other people will not have confidence in you. Below you will find five tips for building self confidence. Don’t just think about these tips, give them a try. Allow them to work for you!
1. Start Each Day with a Smile
Don’t ignore this tip because it sounds cheesy. Smiling has a special way of making you feel good about yourself and your life. When you smile, you are accentuating the positive; you are exuding happiness and contentment.
But don’t just smile; think of a reason to smile. You are alive. You are about to start another day. This could be a very special day. A new day means new opportunities. And this means new ways to make yourself happy and get closer to your ultimate goals.
So tomorrow morning, when you wake up, think of all you have in life and smile warmly. Beginning the day on a positive note will set the tone for you to do great things.
2. Dump Your Doubts on Paper
We all have doubts. We all have worries. Some of us just tend to let these things stew in our minds more than others. Don’t let these doubts eat away at you throughout the day. Get them out on paper in the morning. Write out all your doubts, and just keep writing all your thoughts. Don’t even think about what you are doing. A lot of your doubts are subconscious. Simply start your writing with, “I have doubts about myself. They are…” and just keep writing until you are done.
Many times, you’ll find that as you are writing you will discover that a lot of your doubts seem silly. Sometimes you’ll begin to subconsciously start thinking about your strengths. This is because your strengths may lie below your doubts in your brain’s hierarchy right now. Once you dump your doubts from your brain, you will find out what actually you like about yourself.
3. Do Something You Love to Do
It’s no secret that we tend to do best at the things we love to do. This is because we can really put our heart and spirit into it. Take some time out today and do something you really love doing. Immerse yourself in the moment and let go of all your doubts. Have some fun and loosen up. What happens when you do something you really love is you don’t worry about not doing it well. You just focus on having a good time.
Once you’ve done this, take this feeling into other areas of your life. Life isn’t about being perfect; it’s about giving the most of yourself to each moment. Remember the good feelings and let them stream throughout your day.
4. Make a List of Everything You’re Good At
I know you’re good at some things. We all are. This is because we all have special talents and unique skillets. Just because you can’t throw a baseball 90mph or solve quantum physics problems doesn’t mean you aren’t gifted. Even if your special talents aren’t readily apparent to the layperson, this doesn’t mean they aren’t important.
Your talents are important because they are unique to you. Once you’ve discovered your special talents, it is up to you to do something special and meaningful with them.
So make a great list of everything you are good at. No matter how small your talent or skill may be, write it down. You may surprise yourself just how much you have to offer.
5. Face One of Your Biggest Fears
As I like to say, nervousness is often just your brain’s way of telling you that your fears will feel great to conquer. You are nervous because you care. Since you care, you will feel good to have accomplished the feat. Your fears will go away once you face them.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said you should “do one thing everyday that scares you”. Once you have done this thing, you will have conquered a new fear. You will grow your comfort zone. You will gain confidence in your ability to do this thing. You will grow your confidence in your ability to face your fears. Do this on a regular basis and the things that used to scare you will give you some of your happiest moments. You will be stronger and wiser.
The key is to be consistent. At first, facing your fears will make you very uneasy. You are not used to operating out of your comfort zone, but realize that it will only make you a stronger, more confident person. Day by day, it will get easier. And day by day, you will be able to conquer bigger and bigger fears.
Pretty soon, people will be asking you for advice on building self confidence!
About the Author
Matt Maresca is a motivational entertainer who aims to inspire others to take their lives to the next level of personal happiness through self improvement. This growth often begins with building self confidence. For more, check out Matt’s website at MyLifeMotivation.com.
If you find yourself procrastinating, this guide will help you learn why you do it and how to change it. Also, if you have a procrastinator in your life, a child, an employee, a spouse, you can turn to this guide to help you understand why they do it and how you can help. This guide has a host of information on how to overcome procrastination, how to minimize the tendency to procrastinate, the psychological roots of procrastination, and how you can turn procrastination into productivity. Believe it our not, there are times when procrastination is a good thing.
Procrastination is a Complex Phenomenon
There is no silver bullet to the problem. Some of us struggle getting started on things we need to do to improve our careers, our health, our relationships, and our spirit. Some of us start but can’t finish. Why do we procrastinate? There are many reasons and perspectives on that. If you want a comprehensive understanding of procrastination you must tap many resources. There are a lot of smart people who have written about this subject and you’ll find links to many of them here.
This Guide is Structured Into Three Parts:
24 of the Best Articles on Procrastination
4 Videos About Procrastination
My Take on Procrastination
3 Must Read Books About Procrastination
The Best Articles on Procrastination
Structured Procrastination – If you’re a procrastinator, this is by far the best essay I’ve read on harnessing procrastination as a gift. John Perry is a successful academic and chronic procrastinator. He’s learned to turn his procrastination into a productivity hack.
Chronic Time Abuse – This pdf file is from the Harvard Business Review and written by Steven Berglas. It explains why ordinary time-management techniques don’t work for some people, the childhood roots of time abuse, how to understand the four distinct time abusers, and how to make them more productive.
Good and Bad Procrastination – Paul Graham founder of Y-combinator and Hacker News and prolific internet essayist, makes a strong case that impressive people are terrible procrastinators and trying to “beat” procrastination is impossible. Paul describes three types of procrastination and that we should strive to be a Type-C procrastinator. What does that mean? In a nutshell it means, “Good procrastination is avoiding errands to do real work.”
Fight Procrastination! – David Cheong shows us via illustration how to understand Procrastination vs. Pain and Payoff. He shows where we want be and how to get there.
50 Strategies For Making Yourself Work – Jerry Oltion at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America writes about the major paradox of the writing profession – work avoidance. Why as writers do we find ourselves doing ANYTHING but writing? Since no single solution works for everyone, Jerry gives you 50 strategies to try.
An Unexpected Lesson About Procrastination – Penelope Trunk tells us what she learned about procrastination from her experience having a baby with a birth defect and how she discovered procrastination is one of the best tools we have for taking care or ourselves.
Procrastination: Ten Things To Know – This list shows us that bad procrastination can be the result of authoritarian parenting/schooling, the child never discovers self-regulation, and/or uses procrastination as a coping mechanism or a passive-aggressive form of rebellion which then leads to issues like substance abuse.
Procrastination – This is a fascinating post citing multiple scientific studies that show procrastination is not the result of laziness, but instead a result of meta-cognition. To get past your tendency to procrastinate you need to find ways to trick yourself in to thinking differently about thinking.
From Procrastination to Motivation – This is an A to Z reference guide about why we procrastinate and how to beat it. It explains the many reasons why we procrastinate, offers full color illustrations and flow charts, and a guide to motivating yourself past your blocks.
Overcoming Procrastination Instantly Using Self Talk – At litemind we get solid practical advice on how to re-frame the language you use in your thoughts. When you re-frame your thoughts you’ll produce different actions with different results. With a little training anyone can change their thoughts.
Letter to a Young Procrastinator – This is a well written letter that Seth Stevenson appears to be writing to his younger self – “Stop resisting and embrace your procrastination.” If you’re going to procrastinate stop agonizing over it and have fun with the time you are wasting.
7 Ways to Move Beyond Procrastination – Henrik Edberg at the Positivity Blog puts together another list of 7. He leads with the advice that procrastination is more painful than work. Yes sometimes it is.
Procrastination by John Kelly – This is a creative description of procrastination. Most of us will find our our own methods of procrastination in this video.
Author and Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely on Procrastination
A Humorous Look at Procrastination – “Procrastination” Tales of Mere Existence:
Ellen DeGeneres will make you laugh as she explores her own procrastination:
My Take on Procrastination
As long as I can recall I’ve struggled with procrastination. I am sure I started procrastinating even before I can remember. I rarely if ever turned in assignments in school that I wasn’t interested in. Over 30 years ago I recall a teacher assigning me a report on the composer Rossini. I checked out one book about him in the library, never read it, and never even started the report. I wasn’t interested. Did it hurt me? I doubt it, but I still think about it today and it became a common issue during my schooling. I procrastinated and failed to start/finish many assignments.
I can see the seeds of procrastination in my sons. They naturally avoid doing things that need to be done. They love to start a craft project, or take out the legos, or set up a board game, but they NEVER want to clean up the mess and put things back where they got them. It’s more fun to take out another item and another item and another item. When you ask them to put something away the excuses flow as naturally as water seeks a river, “I am still playing with it, I was putting it away, I’ll do it in a minute, I was playing with both of them.” When you press them, feet stomp, followed by yelling, screaming, and sometimes worse.
This manifestation of procrastination seems to be selfishness/immuturity or an inability to understand how your own inaction affects others. I’m certain it isn’t about perfectionism. They expect someone else to clean up their messes and would rather do something fun.
But as a parent you shouldn’t try to kill this innate tendency to procrastinate, just redirect it a little. Sometimes you shouldn’t do what others tell you. Instead you should do what you love. Why should you do busy work instead of real learning? Why should you accept monotonous boring work instead of creative work? You shouldn’t! To be happy productive people, we need to understand the difference between being responsible and using others to justify yet another form of procrastination – failing to live up to our potential. As a father it is my job to teach that distinction to my sons. The best way (and most difficult) is to live it by example.
Procrastination is good when it keeps you from wasting your time and money. I’ve found, if you put some things off, you’ll find later that they didn’t need to be done. The trick is knowing what those things are, and they are different for all of us.
Procrastination is bad when you fail to take care of yourself, when you fail to grow, when you fail to learn, when you fail to create.
So the key is… overcoming bad procrastination, maximizing good procrastination, and learning to identify the difference.
3 Must Read Books on Procrastination:
I recommend the following books on procrastination. In this section, I won’t review each book. Just click through to Amazon and read the reviews there. All three are dyno-mite!
P.S. I have some friends who say they want to write. If any of you are reading this, my advice is… Then write! Start a blog! It’s never been easier to write! Most obstacles are in your mind. Clear your mind and just do it. Stop Procrastinating Now!
Just a reminder… In case you’ve forgotten who you are and what life is about…
To live a great life is to live boldly with courage and strength. Do not try to be fearless, just be aware of your fear and act in spite of it. Tell the bullies, worriers, and fear-mongers both inside and outside your head, to go to hell. Submit them with mental Jiu Jitsu. Choke them out of your mind. Remember that life is short, and that you need to live a confident, humor filled life. Not a life of anxiety and worry, but a life of action, fun, freedom, and intelligent creativity.
Don’t mistake any of this for recklessness. Recklessness leads to fear, anxiety, poor health, poor finances, poor relationships, and lost freedom. The bully, the worrier, and the fear-monger are the animals that try to trick you into reckless behaviors. Learn to hear them, identify them, and then crush them before their lies and tricks take root.
Live intelligently. When the bully in your head shows you a scene or hands you a feeling of shame, guilt, worthlessness, or fear. Shout it down. Clog the pit from which it rears its head. It doesn’t matter if the scenes and feelings were real in the past. Your past is gone. It is over. It is unchangeable. The only thing that is changeable is the decision you face right now, in this moment. Are you going to choose to live in fear and guilt and shame and anger or will you choose to live with courage and confidence in everything you do next? Your choice will determine your future. Your choice will determine how you feel, what you do, and the impact you have on others.
Don’t try to live in the past. The past is an imaginary place full of nightmares and fairy tales. Forget the past, and forget the people who remind you of it. Reminiscing is a fools game.
So right now, in this moment, let me tell you who you really are…
You are strong
You are loving
You are creative
You are intelligent
You are confident
You are capable of anything
You have honor
You have credibility
You are healthy
You are honest
You are wealthy (wealth is more than money)
You are fun
People respect you
People follow you
People love you as you are right now
People need you
You are a leader
Anger is a negative emotion with a positive side. It makes you vulnerable, but it reveals passion. It can result from a deep sense of justice and honesty. The best way to reduce anger is to become pragmatic and practical. But pragmatism kills passion. I wonder where we’d be today if Churchill had been a pragmatist instead of a stubborn visionary.
I’ve never had a lot of time for pragmatism.
To me, Pragmatism means – doing what works instead of doing the right thing. The problem with a pragmatic approach to life… is…
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL WORK AND WHAT WON’T, UNTIL YOU TRY!
If you fail, so what? Get up, modify your plan, and try again.
In general, the only reason something is impossible is because someone has decided it is impossible.
Pragmatism is a common tactic to dismiss dreams, to stifle innovation, and to crush creativity.
Need a place to find the best self-improvement blog posts ever? One big list of inspiring geniuses? Well, here it is… my list of the best self-improvement posts ever:
1. – How to be Creative – Originally published in 2004 by Hugh Macleod at the Gaping Void. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing some of the best advice ever given freely over the internet. If you have read it, read it again…
2. – How to Make Money From Your Blog – If I had a dollar for every person who started blogging after reading this post… well… I could quit my job. This post motivated untold numbers of people to start blogging for money. Some of them have quit their jobs and rose to internet fame, others are squeaking out a modest income, and others gave up. This post tells you in specific detail how to get a blog off the ground and turn it into a business. But beware, Steve is brutally honest in this post.
3. – Zen To Done (ZTD): The Ultimate Simple Productivity System – This is a post you can put to use to improve you life immediately. In fact it is the beginning of a series of posts. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits lays out a productivity system that focuses on habits, action, structure, simplification, and goals. This post starts with 10 essential habits. At the end of the post you’ll see another post for the next entry in ZTD system. Or you could just click the link at the bottom and buy the eBook.
5. – The Art of the Finish: How to Go From Busy to Accomplished – This post was written about three years ago on Scott H Young’s blog. It was written by Cal Newport who was a PhD student at MIT. He made the observation that many highly accomplished people did not have good productivity habits. What they did have is a common trait – they completed projects. They are compulsive finishers. That habit of finishing then unlocks opportunities and big scores. Cal gives us detail on completetion centric planning.
6. – 50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do – Marc and Angel give us a comprehensive guide to self reliance and self-education. This huge list states a thing we should know how to do, tells us why we should know it, and then supplies us with the information to learn it. Man this must have taken Marc and Angel a long time to put together. Thanks, Marc and Angel!
7. – Do You Have Weirdo Syndrome? – I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt like a weirdo. Like I never quite fit in. I think about weird things, sometimes I wear the wrong clothes, and I have weird ideas. And when I try to fit in, I give up a part of myself and I still don’t fit in. Charlie Gilkey addresses this in a wonderful way – “You can’t be remarkable and fit in at the same time.”
8. – 120 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power – Luciano Passuello supplies us with a list of 120 things we can do starting today to help us think faster, improve memory, comprehend information better and unleash our brain’s full potential. Luciano also adds 35 more ideas from his readers.
9. – 279 Days to Overnight Success – This isn’t a blog post. It’s a 79 page pdf written by Chris Guillebeau about how he became a full-time writer and professional blogger in 279 days.
10. – 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job – This is by far one of the most visited blog posts ever written. Ever wonder why you should start a business? This advice isn’t for everyone, but it might be for you. If you are interested in working for yourself. This is a must read.
12. – The 99 Best Business Books: The Personal MBA Recommended Reading List – From the site: “MBA programs don’t have a monopoly on business knowledge: you can teach yourself everything you need to know to succeed in life and at work.” If you follow Josh Kaufman’s Personal MBA program you can skip b-school and $150,000 loan; and get a world-class business education just by reading these books.
13. – Top 5 Ways to Build a Wonderful Life – I recall the day this post made the front page of Digg and Delicious. What a fantastic piece of writing. John Wesley wrote this back when he owned Pick the Brain. It’s short and simple and to the point.
14. – Fifty Success Habits – Craig Harper will tell you the hard core truth about self-improvement. It takes courage and work and sweat. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. This is one of his best posts, ever.
14. – Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life – Henrik Edberg publishes the Positivity Blog, and this is one of his best posts ever. Why? You’ll have to read it. He combines a series of quotes from the famous American writer Mark Twain, with 9 tips for living. Mark Twain was an odd duck and did things differently than others. That combined with his genius mind is what makes his advice so powerful. Mark Twain’s insight combined with Henrik’s commentary, gives us a real sense of what it takes to develop our potential.
15. – A Devious Trick to Handle Chronic Complainers – This is one of those simple pieces of advice I had known about years ago. It’s so simple it makes me laugh out loud. Complaining drives me nuts! Especially when there is nothing you can say or do to help the person complaining. They shoot down everything you suggest. No doubt, this piece of advice from Alexander Kjerulf AKA The Chief Happiness Officer, is golden.
16. – Relationships: 8 tips for finding the right thing to say in a difficult situation – The quality of our life is only as good as the quality of our relationships. Communication is key to creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Gretchen Rubin from the Happiness Project gives us 8 tips on communicating in difficult situations. It isn’t the easy situations that make or break us, but what we say and do when the situation is challenging.
17. – 106 Tips to Become a Master Connector – Donald Latumahina put together this list on his Life Optimizer blog. Donald summarized the best information he gleaned from the book Never Eat Alone and put them into 106 easily digestible tips. Relationship building is one of the critical components to success in business, success in life, and self-improvement. This is straight forward advice for the 21st century.
18. – How to Defrag Your Mind In 5 Easy Steps – I know one of my biggest problems is I have too much crap in my head competing for my attention – too many ideas. To move forward we’ve got to focus on the important stuff and follow through. Dragos Roua gives us a simple formula he uses to prioritize and move forward.
19. – How to Make Friends and Get a Social Life – To some people this stuff might seem obvious. But to many of us geeks with social anxiety we need this advice. Solid social skills are more important to happiness, financial success, and longevity than any other skill you can acquire. Chris at SucceedSocially.com offers critical advice for the shy, anxious, and awkward.
20. – Connect with Your Creative Writer – This one from Tina Su at Think Simple Now made the front page of Digg. She explains creativity and mental blocks, offers her 8 step plan to overcoming writers block, and finishes up by offering 13 tips to unlocking your creativity. Tina had a baby boy this year. Congrats Tina and good luck to you and your family.
21. – How to Travel Full-Time For Less Than $14,000 Per Year – No doubt travel is a key ingedients to self-improvement. Travel opens your eyes to opportunity, ideas, culture, diversity, and knowledge. This guest post by Nora Dunn on I Will Teach You to Be Rich, is a long, detailed, comprehensive guide to cheap travel. She tells us how to save 80% on airfare, how to get free accommodations, how to work while travelling, and a host of other tips for cheap travel.
23. – 8 Harsh Truths that Will Improve Your Life – This is a guest post by Glen Allsop on Dumb Little Man that takes an original angle on the personal development subject. He takes a series of apparently negative truths about life, and draws lessons from them, positive lessons.
24. – The Best Way to Solve a Problem: Give Up – Seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? I’m not giving it away, but this post is right on, sometimes you have to quit. It’s the only was to improve. Johnathan at the Illuminated Mind does a lot of posts that seem to offer counterintuitive advice, and in each case the advice is good.
25. – Six Conversational Habits to Ditch Today – These six tips are obvious, but very few of us have mastered them. They are bad habit we all need to break if we want quality communication and quality relationships. My favorite is – stop seeking attention by complaining. Thanks Sara!
26. – Seven Can’t Miss Ways to Kick-Start the Writing Habit – This is simple and actionable advice on writing. Part of the writing process is simply sitting down and writing something… anything… this post will leave you with no excuse not to start writing now. Don’t forget to check the reader tips too.
Do you have enough to read now? No? Okay then, I also want to share a few of my favorite self-improvement books:
A friend and blogger ApplePieMom brought an idea to my attention yesterday in her post Living Dangerously.
The idea that living dangerously enhances life is a conundrum that rolls around in my head frequently.
I understand AppliePieMom’s point that simply taking a few economic risks isn’t the same fighting in a war zone. No doubt. The difference is one of degree. Are you risking your life, your job, your money, your marriage, your freedom, your health, or your reputation? We clearly put different values on each of these things.
But that doesn’t get at the fundamental question…
Is Living Dangerously and Risk Taking Critical to Your Happiness and Success?
It is to me, but it is nuanced and complex.
Almost everything worth doing is risky.
I was driving down the freeway and my son yelled, “Dad the speed limit is 70 and you’re going 78. The policeman is going to take you to jail.”
I thought about it a minute and I said this to my son…
“First, no one is going to take me to jail. If I get caught I’ll have to pay fine. Second do you notice how everyone else is going even faster? If I drive slower we will be in more danger than if I keep up with the flow of traffic.
One of the most important things to learn about life isn’t to obey all the rules. It’s to learn the rules, know when you’re breaking them, and what the consequences are if you get caught.”
Risk taking and danger doesn’t always involve breaking the rules, but more often than not it does.
The need for risk and challenge can manifest itself in harmless ways…
When a golfer first plays a clean round of golf, they can find it isn’t what they thought it’d be. They thought it’d be exhilarating but instead it was boring. Why? It is more interesting to get yourself into a mess and get yourself out than it is to execute near perfection.
Or manifest itself in incredibly destructive ways…
Claude Steiner writes about this in The Games Alcoholics Play. He states alcoholics and addicts don’t find “normal” life interesting. They are caught in an destructive obsessive form of risk taking, consistently digging themselves into a hole and recovering. This is why they are more likely to relapse when life is going well than when they are having problems. They crave not only alcohol but the risk that goes with it.
Some people climb mountains, others jump from airplanes, and some put their life savings down on a startup. These activities make them feel alive.
What do you think? Is living dangerously critical to your hapiness and success?
For me it is. Too much safety and comfort bore me and lead to apathy. But there are a couple of caveats…
The risk must be calculated and intelligent, not a blind gamble or reckless endangerment.
The likely result of my risk taking should be constructive and positive.
For the first 30 years of my life I viewed myself this way:
I grew up in an ordinary family, in an ordinary middle-American city. My dad had an ordinary job. Just like every other boy I knew, I did shitty in school and I hated it. I was told by authorities that I’d never amount to anything, that I’d be lucky to get a job that could pay the bills, and that my generation was the first generation who would have it worse than their parents. I worked jobs I hated so I could come home, sit on the couch, drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and watch TV. I wasted my weekends watching televised sports. I was in debt and I couldn’t see myself getting out.
I was told that without a higher education I would never amount to anything. I saw myself as working class. I accepted the social sorting our schools and institutions had applied to me. I became what I believed I was. I felt like I was an ordinary working class guy and that’s all I would ever be.
I felt guilty when I wanted more. I should be happy, right? At least I had a job. I had a cracker box to live in. I had a wife who loved me unconditionally. I had so much food I was getting fat. When I’d dream for more, I’d hear a demon in my head shouting “What do you want more for? You ungrateful little bastard, you’ve got everything you need. Quit feeling sorry for yourself.”
Was I ordinary? Yes, I was ordinary because I thought I was ordinary. Who am I to presume I am extraordinary?
If you listen to the news and the lessons taught in our schools you’ll hear the same message again and again. Ordinary people are helpless victims.
Do you want to know the truth?
It’s a lie. There are no ordinary people. You are all extraordinary. You are all gifted creators. Everyone of you has amazing things to offer.
I’m a slow learner. It took me almost 30 years to learn this.
It is my story and I am compelled to share it with you in the hope that it won’t take you 30 years to figure this out.
I was what I thought I was. And now I am what I think I am. And that’s what you are too.
Stress the importance of action, regardless of inspiration
This post doesn’t address all the complexities involved in procrastination, but it does get to the root of one major cause.
Tell me if this story sounds familiar to you:
You need to work on a project. It could be any project, for school, for a customer, for an employer, for your spouse, or for yourself. Maybe it’s new software, a blog post, negotiating a lease, developing a brand, or getting in shape.
Your logical mind knows the project is within your abilities, that working on the project will be interesting and rewarding, and that you’ll find satisfaction upon completing your project.
But knowing the above doesn’t matter—you procrastinate anyway.
Why do you procrastinate even when you know taking action will be rewarding?
You have an emotional hang-up. It feels like a tightness in your chest—like a cross between fear and guilt. It’s an emotional dam in your creative stream. You want to bust that dam and get the stream flowing before you act.
So you tell yourself, “I don’t feel like doing this right now.” You aren’t lying to yourself—you feel sick about it, so you blow it off until you feel better. You find a distraction that gives you immediate relief, a video game, a night out, food, television, surfing nonsense on the internet, or even drugs and alcohol.
You’re hoped “a little fun” will make you feel better so you can get motivated. But now you’ve taken a night off, and when you face your project, that same ugly feeling returns, only more intense this time, and you escape into another distraction.
But you remember working on projects in the past, and it wasn’t bad. In reality, working on the project made you feel great. So why don’t you do it?
It comes from years of mental programming. As a child you started saying “I don’t feel like it” to your parents, other kids, and your teachers.
You’ve made it a habit to avoid things you don’t feel like doing.
You came to believe you had to feel a certain way in order to take action. Somehow your learning process was interrupted. You began to look for stuff “you felt like doing” and did only that.
But you got it wrong. You judged the worthiness of an activity based on the feelings you had before you acted. Emotional health is developed by acting and thinking in a way that is likely to result in a positive emotional state despite your feelings at the moment.
How you feel right now doesn’t matter. If you want to feel happy and free…
All that matters is the likely result of the next action you take.
I am not asking, “Is it likely to make you feel good for the next five minutes?”
I am asking, “Is the next action you take likely to result in confidence, pride, esteem, and happiness in the long term?”
Live in the now. It is the only place you can live. But use your thoughts and actions to build a better tomorrow. You were born to create tomorrow. Don’t leave it to chance.
One more time…
If you feel unmotivated and uninspired, act anyway. Get moving and motivation and inspiration will follow.