It’s 4 O’clock in the afternoon, and I had just wolfed down two eggs, toast and hash browns at the local IHOP. I think I remembered to actually taste the food. My life has been racing by for the past two weeks, and another full day of life — school, chores, work, shopping, family time, etc… is not over yet. My daughter laughs at me – a lot – but I don’t think I am that funny. Being an older parent of a 9 year old is a not only a physical challenge, but a mental challenge as well. Especially, when old habits get in the way of what I consider to be a successful life.
Frequently, I worry that “we won’t finish school in time.” It is true that I imagine there is an evil school mistress over my shoulder waiting to smack me on the knuckles for the slightest infraction. She’s just there waiting for me to mess up. So you can imagine how I felt – for two whole weeks – when I couldn’t deliver on a seemingly easy blog post about success. I mean how hard could it be to write? I could give some examples, a cool definition, a few hacks and boom! Another post bites the dust. And yet here I am – still. What’s my problem, anyway?
But no, I wasn’t satisfied.
Bad Habit #1 – I think I need more information. So I go through a list of all my resources, and decide I need to do more research. I get all of my material, and plow through it. I get more books, and I review all my notes. I am no further along than I was before.
Bad Habit #2 – I think I don’t have enough time to write. It is so true how busy I am. Especially, while I am watching the Voice, happily hitting “Like” to my heart’s content on Facebook, and checking for all of those important emails, etc..
Bad Habit #3 – I rationalize and tell myself that I won’t write until I know I have something really good to share.
So I decided that enough was enough. “I decided” — how interesting? Why couldn’t I “decide” two weeks earlier? So without further a do, here is the post I finally ended up with.
Success is the peace of mind that is a direct result of the self-satisfaction of knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming — John Wooden, Legendary Basketball Coach
Cool definition, no? But is it your definition? Or mine? I have learned that everyone has their own secret sauce about success. In a way, it is a lot like love: you know it when you feel it. Do you know how you define success? Does it have to do with peace of mind, or with some other criterion?
Check out this graphic. So much wisdom there, no?
For me, I found that my own feelings of success were a direct result of my expectations. If I set myself up to focus on daily improvement, I would feel successful most of the time – even when I didn’t follow through, or even if I messed up. I could always point to the fact that I had moved forward in something. Having little wins like that made the bigger wins easier to achieve. So if it was that easy, why was I getting in my own way?
Answer: I was tired, over-scheduled and in physical pain.
Here is what can happen: when time becomes compressed in our lives – when we have too much stuff going on – the energy we have to use becomes limited as well, and the space we have in our brains to link our intentions to our actions decreases. That is when we come up with “good” reasons why we can’t do this or that. We know that there is “time” to do it, but it doesn’t feel like there is “enough” time to do it. Which can then lead to thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?,” or “How come I can never do…?” “What is my problem?” All of which is textbook Needless Suffering 101.
The solutions are pretty easy, and these are only a few of the remedies I came up with:
- Create space or time in your schedule by saying “NO!”
- Let go of judgement
- Make the activation energy lower to do the task
- Make the task easier by breaking it up into smaller steps
- Make it fun
- Eat chocolate – it is true that just a little bit of sugar increases your will power 🙂
Did you also notice that none of the solutions above had to do with judging yourself, or committing emotional battery??
The one thing that stood out for me most during this journey was that the big success we want to feel in life is built on the back bone of the small little daily successes that sometimes we don’t even notice. In those daily wins, we can feel good about where we were, where we are now, and where we are going. Celebrate them! Acknowledge the heck out of them! It feels really good to do that.
So the next time you are feeling less than successful, decide enough is enough, and get to it. You are one thought away from feeling successful, or in my case, a completed blog post.
Until next time,
PS There are several ways you can lower the energy necessary to start a task, and then use the momentum you have created to get you through to task completion. If you need some ideas, comment on this post below or email me. I would be happy to share what I have learned.