Filed this under Personal: Go out and Ask for it
I'm sitting here polishing off my morning coffee and preparing to start brewing my lunchtime coffee because as we all know I exist solely upon the graces of the intravenous caffeine drip that I'm attached to. When I get a sudden burst of frustration, sadness, inspiration and motivation that surely spurred the likes of Tony Robbins to take to his pulpit lecturing people on how to get out of their funks.
It was a combination of things that inspired this sudden burst of creative, inspirational energy including but not limited to my 30th birthday. Which passed and with it any remaining thoughts of childlike youth and juvenile behavior I lived and thrived off of for the past almost 3 decades.
It's also funny to me because lately I've had people come up to me and be wowed at what I have done, am doing and plan on doing with my life. As someone who rarely stops to self-reflect let alone give myself a pat on my back I thought it interesting and something I should look into.
To be honest, most of my life has just been going through the motions and to be fair I think most people exist this way as well. But the one thing that I always had as a kid and still now as an adult was the innate ability to zone out and daydream whenever and wherever I was.
I think a lot of people dream, daydream or fantasize about life and alternate realities, hopes, dreams, goals. But most of us stop right there. At the dreaming stage. We never move forward into the actual planning and action steps it takes to get us into our dream life because we quite frankly have been crushed by the mediocrity of a 9-5 job that we hate, and have been stomped into submission into thinking that we are worth less and deserve only what everyone else around us has.
This limited thinking is literally the difference between people who go out and GET what they dream of and those who continue to dream.
Don't get me wrong, ability, raw talent and intelligence are also MAJOR factors here. But what I see more often than not, is all those traits squandered because of a self-deprecating mentality and that voice in our head that tells us we can't, and we aren't _____ enough.
Do you realize how many idiots are in high positions? How many total goobers are CEOs, managers high up on the totem pole or own their own business? You can literally succeed in spite of yourself and to an extent I'm a perfect example of this.
The American dream is not dead, it's just waiting for someone to come along and give it CPR.
I've known so many insanely talented, smart individuals who settle for a mediocre life and are miserable in their level of comfort because that's what is familiar, safe and comfortable. You know that saying, "a ship at harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for?" (John A. Shedd) as cheesy as motivational posters are, they exist because people often aren't self-inspiring.
TELL THAT VOICE TO STFU
You know that voice. The one that tells you that you aren't cool enough, tall enough, pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, symmetrical enough, rich enough etc. That voice is like the toxic friend that you lug around with you for no other reason other than the fact that she's been with you since birth. This voice that you think is humbling you and keeping you level-headed is actually the voice that will contribute to your downfall or less dramatically the constant state of misery you exist in. It's SO easy to listen to that voice and be in an abusive relationship with ourselves. But that voice limits us way more than what our actual ability does. It's also hard to shut it off, it's like a constant, subliminal loudspeaker that calls out right when we are at the brink of doing something incredible. So how do you tell it the STFU? It's not as easy as SHHing people. And TBH that's a mixed bag depending on context/venue anyway. But little steps along the way can help! One of the things I do that seems really new-agey and a little like something that would be featured on the Goop blog (barf) is starting your morning with a gratitude journal. YES I KNOW it sounds cheesy but hear me out. Keep a notebook next to your bed, this is smart for a number of reasons:
1) Jotting down your dreams before your forget them so you can tell everyone all about how you were married to Justin Trudeau and you woke up every morning to him making you waffles shirtless and and singing The Beatles to you in french. (Or I mean, whatever it is you dream about)
2) Those middle of the night epiphanies/inventions you have that fade away before the morning light (think of how rich you could've been if you had invented the selfie stick!)
3) Writing out your To-Do List before you go to bed so you can physically check it off the next day as you go about your productive way instead of typing it out on your phone and accidentally emailing your grocery list with an embarrassing amount of dairy products to a client. (Summer is ice cream season, get off my back)
But one of my favorite uses for a bedside notebook is to start your day in a positive way with some sort of self affirmations. This can be a combination of things. I, for one, like to write out 3 things i'm grateful for that day/previous day/week. 3 Things I am excited for that week and 3 things I accomplished/kicked ass at. It's a relatively short list, writing out 9 short sentences or phrases or even words that I'm thankful/excited/good at (BEYONCE/BEYONCE/SINGING BEYONCE IN THE CAR TO MYSELF). But it changes your outwards perception and the mentality you begin your day with!
Other things to add/remove from your morning routine-DO NOT check the news, social media and especially your email when you wake up. Stretch for even 5 minutes, just crawl on out onto your bedroom floor and stretch it out, mid-day when you've been sitting in a chair since 100B.C. you will feel so much better. Also, chug a big glass of water. Don't act like you can't chug things, I'm sure there are photos from college to prove it.
While all of these things might not shut that voice up completely, you'll feel better physically, mentally and emotionally and be more inclined to take risks and have your positive mindset shout over the negative one so you can barely hear that voice saying you can't do something as it fades into the background.
GO OUT AND ASK FOR IT
How many times have you asked someone for something and they have literally bitten you? Assaulted you? Cursed your family name? (Besides any times as a dumb teenage kid you asked the weird smelly guy that hung out by 7-11 to buy you booze, that was a different life lesson all together.) The fear of asking someone for something often paralyzes us to the point where we give up all together and convince ourselves we don't really want the thing anymore anyway. HOW STUPID IS THIS?! This is the most self-sabotaging BS that we can tell ourselves. This is like going to Costco and refusing a free sample even if we are hungry because we don't want the perception to be that we are only here for the free sample. Has anyone done this? You can lie to me, but you can't lie to your self. When you gently hint, nudge or barely suggest things that you want how can you expect anyone (including the universe) to give it to you? Also, sneakily going around this by pretending you don't want something and masking it as something else is not only equally as bad BUT REALLY PISSES PEOPLE OFF so just learn how to be direct and up front about the things that you want. I can almost guarantee no one will bite your face off if you just ask (unless you live in Florida..*jk I love you Florida please don't hurt me*) If you're afraid to jump into the big things like that job promotion, asking your hot yoga instructor on a date or for extra hot fudge on your sundae, start small! There are SO many times the people around us are more than willing to help us with what we want but we just don't tell them!!! Here are a few examples:
1. Instead of diving right into ask for that promotion, ask for a performance review. While yes, this is also scary, you will probably receive some constructive criticism (which is necessary for growth) as well as a whole slew of things you're good at so by the time you do work up the courage to ask for a raise, promotion or a change of scenery to a nicer office you are armed with their own words describing how great you are. Plus this gives you a chance to improve upon the things that you needed and present this proof on your improvement and WHY you deserve this! Aside from the fact that people respect others who are self aware and are actively trying to make themselves better-including your boss.
2. Ask your spouse for some "me-time". We are all people, fighting our own internal battles with whatever demons we possess. But sometimes we forget that there is another person in our life that is also doing the same and may be oblivious to our struggle. Instead of getting frustrated when that person doesn't just swoop in with our favorite meal, bottle of wine and foot rub every night, try asking them for the things you want. This could be anything from asking them to take the kids out for ice cream for an hour so you can take a bath or asking them to put the laundry in the dryer or if you can just order takeout because you don't feel like cooking. You have this entire other person that you are in a relationship with, start asking them for the things that you want/need and they might just reciprocate creating a happier life for both of you!
3. Do you see a friend/colleague/family member/neighbor doing something really cool that you want to be a part of? Instead of just sitting idly by, ask how you can get involved. Almost everyone is open to a free hand helping them do something. When you start to ask if you can be a part of things this CRAZY thing starts to happen...you start being a part of things. When I was 17 years old and fired from Best Buy from fighting a mall cop (it's an entirely different blog post) I applied at a random car dealership because, "why not?" and guess what? I got the job. It doesn't seem like that big of an achievement in my life now but back then as a scrappy kid who spent her nights watching Meerkat Manor and driving around a mall parking lot singing "Baby Got Back" to people, it was quite a jump. I had no experience, no training and only a mediocre knowledge of cars. But I asked and I got it. This led to me working at several other positions within the car industry, moving to Annapolis, meeting Shaun and a decade later here I am. While the car business didn't work out for me personally, it opened a door to a room that led me straight into the hallway of my life path and I didn't even see it coming but I never would have known it existed if I didn't just start by trying.
JUST DO IT
Nike, as a brilliant advertising campaign that we were all assaulted with in the early to mid-nineties adapted the slogan "Just do it". And it was brilliant, of course, because that phrase will forever be engrained in our psyches as a Nike slogan*, tied to that big white rounded check for all eternity. Just like how Natalie Coles - This Will be (An Everlasting Love) will forever conjure up images of that old guy from eHarmony. But I digress...
The cycle of being inspired, getting motivated and then getting sh*t done is not linear. It is cyclical. We often think that we have to wait for inspiration to strike us which will then motivate us which will then force into doing something BUT this is a total lie that the voice in our head tells us to keep us boring and sad and miserable. Sometimes the act of DOING the thing even without motivation or inspiration will spur the two things you think you need to get started. Just like with a lot of things, our brain over-complicates the idea of the thing to the point where we throw our hands up, decide it's not possible or worth it and leave exasperated and miserable to instead eat a pint of Tonight Dough on the couch while watching trash tv we don't even care about.
What I'm saying is DO THE THING that you want to do first. For example, back when I used to love painting, there was a "100 Shitty Paintings" challenge that some blogger proposed which entailed painting 1 shitty painting to it's full conclusion every day for 100 days. This meant no matter how much I hated it, no matter how awful it was or how unmotivated and uninspired I HAD to paint 1 thing every day for 100 days. In the process something happened. I found that the more I painted and the more I finished the more inspired I got from my past work. Then because I had to do this thing every day, the habit of doing it turned into motivation and I ended up actually enjoying the process and it spurred other creative activities I had been putting off. Even if I had stoped at 75 or 50 or 10 shitty paintings, it doesn't matter. The act of starting and following through with a thing created this cycle of motivation and determination in myself that allowed me to check the bigger things off my to do list. A few other things that can motivate you but are still just baby steps are below:
1. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier. STOP, before you throw that metaphorical clock at my head, listen to me. 30 minutes of sleep in the long term is NOT that much time. I hear you and your excuses, I hear how tired you are, I'm literally typing this at 10:27pm in between emails, alternate blog posts and managing a social media account so I GET IT. We are all exhausted, tired is the new trend #PostMaloneEyebags. But consider how much you could get done with just thirty additional minutes in your day? That's 30 extra minutes of self care in the morning. 30 minutes to sit and drink your coffee while reading a new book. 30 extra minutes to sit outside after dinner and admire the stars. We all want to add time to our day but we never think to shave it off the top. Waking up at 6:30am instead of 7am sounds like a bummer but once you realize how much more LIFE you're getting out of it, it will spur you to do other great things
2. Place a bet. Yes, I am encouraging your gambling habit (just this once). Money is an excellent motivator. If you really want to follow through with something, bet someone who you know will push your ass to follow through a decent amount of money that you will do the thing. Write a check for $500 or $100 or $1000. Whatever amount HURTS but is still possible. Knowing damn well that the person on the other end will 100% cash that check if you don't follow through. It's amazing how much we limit ourselves by being comfortable and when the stakes aren't high enough. If there is a thing you know deep down you want/should do, write that friend a check for a stinging amount and postmark it to 30 or 60 days out. If you haven't done that thing and have tangible proof, your friend cashes the check. It's much easier to go to the gym every day knowing it will cost you an additional several hundred dollars on top of the membership if you don't
3. Is there a thing you need to do, but first this other thing needs to happen and in order for that thing to happen someone else has to sacrifice a virgin on top of a Mayan pyramid during the full moon during the Victorias Secret semi-annual sale? What I mean is, have you ever said "I'll get to that pile of laundry, but first I need to get new hangers" or "I'll do the dishes, but first I have to wait for the clean dishes to cool off. These are those little excuses we give ourselves that are technically a truth but don't really hold us back from doing the thing, it just is more convenient for us to do it that way. It's also the most convenient way for us to say F*CK it and never do the thing (or do it several weeks later after you realize you have no clothes to wear to a meeting and somehow you don't think your client will appreciate your unicorn onesie as ironic). Stop making stupid excuses. DO THE THING. You can fold you clothes and put them away or hang them on your crappy hangers from the Dry Cleaners. You can pop open that dishwasher and handle those glasses like a hot potato or if you're smarter and less of a troglodyte, wash those dishes by hand while listening to great music or an inspiring podcast. There are so many stupid little excuses we make for ourselves to prevent us from doing something we should be doing. As soon as that voice that says "okay as soon as..." shut that little b*tch right up and do the thing she's telling you that you can't do. After you knock out that tiny little task that takes like 10 minutes (let's be real) you'll tackle the big thing and THEN you can spend your entire afternoon sitting upside down on the sofa eating gummy worms watching Queer Eye until the blood rushes to your head and spurs another brilliant idea.
*we won't go into how the Nike slogan, based on urban lore was apparently inspired by the final words of spree killer Gary Gilmore as he stood in front of the firing range. See? Inspiration can literally come from anywhere.