We might not all be great fiction writers but we certainly have the capacity to make up many stories, in our heads, of events that haven’t happened yet.
We can create some amazing stories on where things might go with a particular situation, what other people do or think, and what happens next based on that.
We spend sleepless nights working through the scenarios. But in our “choose your own adventure” story, how many times does it really come true? How many times do we get the outcome we’ve spent time worrying about?
We get sucked into these rabbit holes for many reasons but one critical factor we often miss is the gap in information.
We fail to ask questions to inform us. The questions might be too difficult or awkward so we avoid them.
Instead of knowing the answers upfront, we defer to waiting, hoping, and fantasizing.
We go into story mode.
That’s easier than the alternative. But harder on us, mentally.
Remove the worrying. Remove the doubt. Remove the 20 questions inside our heads.
Ask that upfront. Be direct. Be transparent.
Whatever is going to happen is going to happen anyway.
Instead of waiting until the cliffhanger at the end of this story, we might as well change the narrative starting out.
We have to recognize that, at times, other people will be an impairment to our positive psyche. We yearn so much for their approval and want to be looked at as worthy in their eyes.
Whether they are stories we make up in our heads or actual feedback, we care what others think of us and we let it affect our mood and shape our reactions.
This is where having a core group of trusted peers and mentors becomes monumental. They become our sounding board for ideas, inspiration, and direction. This allows us to block out the other noise and focus on the opinions of those we trust, respect, and care about.
Progress can happen when we trust our judgement with the path we want to venture down but have trusted guides for when we happen to veer off it. When we stay focused on the steps ahead, the noise of the naysayers becomes muted.
The path forward becomes much clearer and quieter.
Decisions are made through a mix of past experiences, current conditions, others’ judgment, fear, etc.
Being decisive is a key element to knowing if we are on the right path toward understanding who we are and what makes us happy.
Because indecision comes from our inability to make clear choices.
We want everything.
We feel we are missing out if we choose one thing over another.
We get stuck.
When we continually question ourselves and our decisions it shows a lack of focus on a vision for our future. We have no idea what we actually want and therefore will get paralyzed with fear and anxiety when having to make decisions, especially ones that appear difficult.
We can’t let ourselves go down this path. We have to be willing to stand our ground and be comfortable and confident with who we are and what we believe in. If we aren’t there yet then we have to be willing to put in the work to understand why.
It’s okay if we are different from everyone else in the room.
Have we ever considered, that maybe we are in the wrong room?
Be okay with making the decision to walk out and find a better one that fits the life we want.
Cats and Dogs rarely play with the same toy again and again. Sure, they have their favorites they’ll pick up every now and then but they will typically bounce around to different ones or lose interest all together.
However, what do they yearn for? Sleep, Exercise, Companionship, and Belonging.
Somehow, they’ve figured out that, “Whoever dies with the most toys doesn’t win.”
Although we might be the “smartest” species in the room, we could learn something from them if we were open to it.
The Truth About Cats And DogsBrian Ondrako2022-05-02T08:43:51-04:00
A big difference between kids and adults is that kids are willing to be silly and carefree with a very short view into the future. They aren’t thinking too far ahead which allows them to live in the moment.
Adults are always looking around and wondering who is watching before they can normally let go and be themselves. We get crippled by a cloud of fear that we create over ourselves.
Instead of telling our kids what to do maybe, we should take a page out of their playbook and just throw the whole playbook out.
I remember walking my son to kindergarten and being amazed at how much he’d grown and how fast those first few years of his life went by.
It reminded me of when I was in kindergarten, over 30 years ago, and how quickly the time seemed to pass. I still remember the fifth-grade classes being on the third floor and thinking, “I’m never going to get up to fifth grade. It’s going to take so long. I have so many years ahead of me.”
As I write this, my son isn’t in Kindergarten anymore. He will be heading into fifth grade next fall.
How quickly time passes us by.
How precious our time is.
How easily we dismiss it.
The game clock is continually running and there are no timeouts. This moment is fleeing just like the last.
We are either a part of that change or we are fighting against it.
Our body changes as we age but if we’ve been focusing on fitness and healthy eating, that change is quite delayed. If we haven’t, we start to feel those effects compound over time. Building healthy habits early on and sticking with them help form a foundation for us to live each day by.
When we go through a breakup or loss, that change is hard, but if we’ve been focusing on our self-reflection inward then we gain a different perspective on the situation. We start to be comfortable with who we are and that others compliment us. They do not define us. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck. It can just suck much less.
When we lose a job, the same thing happens. If we rely on this job so much to keep up our lifestyle and identity then when it ends we are broken. It’s because we haven’t put in the work to recognize our strengths and give ourselves room to maneuver if need be.
We may not always be in control. We can’t control aging, we can’t control if someone breaks up with us, and we can’t control a job loss or a myriad of other life events.
But we can control if we are prepared for them.
We can control if we’ve taken proper measures to mitigate increased risk or pain.
We can control if we are willing to learn from each experience.
It starts by gaining better self-awareness. It starts by asking ourselves simple questions.
What really makes us happy?
Is this the right “fit”?
Do we need that new “toy”?
Are we okay if this doesn’t go our way?
Do we feel we have a great support system?
Asking simple questions about the foundations of our life offers a glimpse into the crystal ball and whether those will crack under more pressure or hold us upright to weather the storm.
Strong foundations lay the groundwork to build upon and allow us to take chances and be okay if it doesn’t work out.
We need to ask ourselves, today, what is our foundation built on, and are we confident it can hold up to the fiercest storm we might encounter?
A coffee cup can be used for:
Tea and other drinks
As a measuring cup
To rinse your mouth while brushing
To hold pens and pencils
To trace a circle
To fill with loose change
We can keep going but the point is that just because a tool was intended for one purpose it doesn’t mean it can’t be used for many others.
Before we go and buy the latest widget to solve a problem we should look around and see if we can create a solution. We get to use our creativity and imagination like we’re kids again. We get to solve a puzzle.
It pushes us a bit outside our comfort zone and we get to take agency over the decision. It could be small but it will help us grow. It helps us think outside the box. It lets us question what can be possible if this is possible.
Sometimes a coffee cup is for coffee. Until it’s not.
One of the more interesting things about social media is that we can get judged very often, both directly and indirectly. Comments and likes and DMs and even a “non-response” could be perceived a certain way.
But then there’s the “unfollow”. Someone took the time to follow and look at your stuff and then at some point realized it’s not for them.
We have to get comfortable with this. Rejection is a part of life. People will come and go. This happens on social media and in “real life” outside of it.
People don’t respond. People ghost us. People don’t make the effort. As Abraham Lincoln quote says, “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”
Not everyone will like us. In fact, most won’t.
The ones who do are in it with us.
Those people. Those are our tribe.
Those are the ones we need to cherish and take time for. Those are the ones we need to recognize and reciprocate.
It can’t be one-sided. A relationship works both ways. We need to give more than we take. We need to be empathetic. We need to be encouraging.
Otherwise, we might just get another “unfollow” and this time it might hurt a little bit more.
It takes us until we become adults to realize just how hard it is to be a kid.
Kids rarely have free choice.
They have to go to school.
They have a specific bedtime.
They may have to eat their veggies.
They may have to play a sport they don’t like.
Rarely can they buy things that make them happy without approval.
The list goes on.
It should make us wonder then, why we complain so much as adults.
We can choose where we work and what we do
We can determine who we want to be around
We can choose the activities that excite us
We can choose what we eat and when we eat it.
We can choose a lot of things. We can choose to complain or choose to be happy.
It doesn’t switch overnight but we can make decisions to lead us in either direction.
The significant part about being an adult is that we have the choice.
We all have things in the category of “easy to do” but we choose not to do them. It’s not that we don’t want to do them, what it comes down to is the priority assignment we put on that thing to actually do it.
Whether that is to take 10 minutes to go for a walk, read a book, meditate, sit in thought, etc, or other things like; sitting and talking with your spouse in the morning, reading a book to your child before bed, sending a note to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, etc.
It’s not that it isn’t easy. It is extremely easy. What is difficult is putting it ahead of other “time wasters” that are urgent but not important. What is difficult is creating a daily habit. What is difficult is changing who we are now with who we want to become.
Those are the things that are difficult.
If we can put all the things we do up for debate on their priority level we might be able to better filter out the urgent and not important and sprinkle in the more fulfilling and long-lasting.
It might not be easy but we can be damn sure it is worth it.
If you’ve come across this blog then chances are with all the hardships in life yours isn’t that bad.
Chances are you have access to high-speed internet or 5G.
Chances are your phone was made sometime in the last handful of years and would be considered “smart”.
Chances are you have warm clothes on if there is a hint of a crisp morning outside.
Chances are when you arrive at work today it’ll be in the car you drove in or just a short few steps away from where you rolled out of bed.
Chances are, if you have kids, when you drop them off at school you are almost certain without worry you’ll pick them up safe and sound in the afternoon.
There is a good chance that your life (and mine) is a heck of a lot easier and more comfortable than a large majority of the world’s population. Probably 99% of it.
Yet, with that comfort also comes a barrier.
A barrier to let things go, seemingly meaningless things, that have almost zero effect on our lives.
A barrier to be patient and wait our turn instead of getting frustrated and causing a scene.
A barrier to thinking about how lucky we are to be in this position in the first place and cherish the hand we were dealt.
A barrier to enduring discomfort. Something the majority of the world has to live with every day.
We are fortunate for the opportunities we have and it’s important from time to time to call those out, head-on, in order to help us lead lives worth meaning and purpose instead of complaining and finger-pointing.
There are greater tragedies in life and many of them we are grateful to never have to think about.
Water is just water. Until it gets hot enough and starts to boil. It’s still water but now it’s boiling hot and creating a new, gaseous state that wasn’t there before.
We don’t know exactly when because there are many factors to get it to the exact temperature. It depends on the amount of water, the consistency of the heat applied, and outside factors (like salt).
But, at some point, when the conditions are right, it boils.
The same can be true for the work we want to put out in the world. It never gets noticed, picked up, or becomes helpful to us or others until we actually create it, consistently, over time and put energy or “heat” into the process.
We have to be willing to endure the long arduous process of creating with nothing happening. Sometimes, it can be like watching water boil.
But, like the water, we have to be willing to stay consistent and wait it out. We have to be willing to believe that the generous work we are giving to the world will be noticed and appreciated.
When the conditions are right, our time will come.
We may not know the exact time but we’ll be ready.
Failing takes up such a small finite space in time. It exists only to be a placeholder for the next achievement, one that wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the failure that preceded it.
It begs to reason, then, that we should welcome failure with warmth and kindness.
“Playing it safe” actually becomes a fools’ errand. It makes us believe that we are working in our best interest to protect ourselves from harm. In reality, we are starving ourselves of exactly what we need to achieve greater happiness; facing failure head-on and coming out stronger.
Like a long-lost friend that showed up unexpectedly, we should welcome the failures with open arms.
We are told growing up that we have to cut the paper neatly without making a mistake or that we need to be sure to take our time and color between the lines. “That’ll look the best”, we were told and we were compared to others in our class who appeared much better and more skilled than us.
But that’s one skill. One small area of expertise. In a vacuum, sure, maybe that’s relevant but we shouldn’t crush our confidence over something so meaningless.
We are great at a lot of things and if we aren’t great then maybe we try hard and enjoy the chance of improving. We don’t have to be an expert, a guru, or savants just to take on a specific project.
That’s the fun of it altogether. Messing up. Trying and crumpling up the paper. Not caring if it takes another try.
That’s when this magic of two colliding things happens. There is this thing that many before us have completed, accomplished, and tackled in their own way. Now we get to come in, with our unique perspective and experience on it all and create something incredibly different.
It may not even be recognizable and that’s quite alright. That’s when we create things that are truly original.
But we won’t know until we try. And we have to get out of our head that it needs to be some level of perfection.
Anxiety is a real thing. We should accept it as such and understand that it will happen to us over and over again.
There may be many causes but one that surfaces most often is our ability, or lack thereof, to control an outcome.
When we are waiting we are anxious. Because we want the answer to go one way but know there is some level of probability it won’t. So we have doubts. Which causes anxiety to flood our bodies.
This is where we can use questions to calm ourselves.
What do we want the outcome to be?
Why do we want it that way?
What’s the worse that happens if it doesn’t go that way?
How will we react given unfavorable news?
What are the alternatives we haven’t considered?
By preparing mentally for answers or outcomes that we might not be able to control, comfort comes with internal understanding. It comes with acceptance.
It’s not that we don’t want certain things to happen but it’s accepting that they might not and being okay with that outcome. It doesn’t happen randomly. We have to invest the time in surfacing these feelings in order to face them head-on.
We might be anxiously awaiting an outcome but we can help ourselves by understanding why we are even anxious in the first place.
We can create a space of patience and calmness that ends up helping us well after this specific event passes by.
Because the next anxious moment is right around the corner and it would serve us well to learn how to handle it.
I enjoyed writing for many years and would normally write in journals or random blog articles from time to time. The content structure and topics changed over time but similar messaging was at its core.
Positive Mindset. Consistency. Action. Progress.
A little over a year ago, leading into April 2021, I made a decision. I was a few years into my Just Get Started Podcast and loved doing the show and wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. But those are longer-form interviews. I wanted another medium to share my thoughts, my voice, and my perspective. Blogging, and really “micro-blogs”, were something I enjoyed. Something about dispelling a message into as few words as possible and making it relatable and enjoyable (and a little vulnerable) was intriguing to me.
So I made a commitment.
Launch a blog article every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. I knew it was going to add some more time to my plate but it was important for me with where I wanted to go and the message I wanted to share with the world.
The message above all else is to Just Get Started.
I’m proud to say that after 12 months and over 140 blog articles later we are back in the month of April, a full year after beginning this project. I am more excited than ever to keep writing and sharing these stories and observations and I hope they have been valuable to you.
We don’t know what will happen or how it might impact us but if we believe in something or find a purpose in pursuing a meaningful project then we have to take the steps to get started and keep moving forward. Consistent action over and over again works.
Too many times I’ve sat on the sidelines and wondered and wished and never just did.
It may not work out as we want it to or we might pivot to something else but we don’t know that at first. All we know is that we want to do it.
So go do it. The only thing holding us back is ourselves.
I’ve been in the position where I sat on the sidelines because I was scared to get in the game. I didn’t believe I could do it. We all feel that from time to time. It’s when we realize that it doesn’t actually matter if we believe we can do it or not and what matters is that we try and we build on it from there. We take a leap of faith. We become brave.
Confidence breeds confidence. You only get that from being in the game and being a part of the action.
So, go do it. Whatever it is that you want to do. Start small if you want. But just start.
Whether you succeed or fail never matters, it’s that you can look back at some distant point from the future and be proud of yourself that when your number was called you suited up and checked into the game.
You weren’t going to miss this opportunity.
A Full Revolution Begins with One MotionBrian Ondrako2022-07-29T17:26:12-04:00
As we think back about our best memories, they are always simple and we are normally surrounded by others.
I think about the moment I found out we were having a baby.
I think about the first moment I held him.
I think about playing golf with my son.
I think about falling in love.
I think about pick-up football games with my friends.
I think about sitting in my grandmother’s dining area and having a conversation with her.
I think about playing video games with my brother.
I think about my first CrossFit competition and being around my team.
I think about all of these memories and so many more and what they might have in common.
We need to go back to 1st Principles thinking. Break down our finest memories and happiest moments. What are the simple building blocks that made them what they are?
These are some things that come to mind.
If we can do things that hit one or more of these buckets then we are going to have the opportunity to create many happy memories and build an unbelievable life for ourselves and the people around us.
Seek to do more of those things and happiness will inevitably follow.
The Happiest Place On EarthBrian Ondrako2022-07-17T09:09:34-04:00
Positivity and optimism are central themes to a life of happiness. Putting our best work out there, being generous with our time, and taking care of others are all things we want to do because we know it helps the world become better and we feel better because of it.
But, sometimes we break down. We stumble. We fall. We don’t feel worthy enough and we want to hide.
It’s okay. Go hide, go cry, go shout, go punch a wall. Whatever we have to do to cope with life sometimes we have to do it. Sometimes that is leaning on others but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s being by ourselves and wallowing for a night or two or many.
But, then, we have to endure.
We have to build back stronger.
We have to be aware that whatever we may have gone through; the pain, the sorrow, the tragedy, it all makes us stronger. Enduring the pain and then rising up from it makes us know we can be whole again.
We now know what it’s like to hit rock bottom and resurface. We know what it’s like to feel like we have no way out. But, we found a way.
Or we will find a way. We have to.
Because that courage to fight another day is a gift to the world. It’s an offering to those that haven’t gotten to the level of our despair before and may need to be shone the light when they get into the depths of hell. When they feel there is no way out. When they don’t have the courage we might have.
Use that energy and shine a beam of light forward for others to follow.
We’ve learned the lessons. We’ve earned the courage. Now it’s time for us to create some action and do good with it. For others and for ourselves.
I used to never want to celebrate my birthday. I was shy and didn’t like the attention. Part of it was growing up a middle child and never feeling like I fit in. Part of it was that I felt awkward and uncomfortable in the limelight.
But there was a part of me that wanted the attention, that craved it because I never felt I had any. It’s a weird paradox.
I was introverted and scared to have attention called upon me in almost any situation but yet I yearned to be heard and for my voice to matter.
But what I didn’t realize back all those years ago (and even until just recently) is that I didn’t need to be heard by others to make me happy. What I actually discovered is that I needed to listen to myself. My innermost thoughts were the voice that was being suppressed all along.
I wasn’t looking for approval from the outside. That’s where I was mistaken. I needed approval internally. Approval that the decisions I was making, the things I wanted to do, and the people I wanted to be around were all my decisions if I just listened to myself.
What I have come to realize and respect is that the only way to discover happiness is we must first discover ourselves. We must be willing to gain acceptance from within before ever looking for outside validation.
We know what we want. We do. We’ve just let “society” do the play calling for us instead of being in the center of the huddle and scripting our own plays.
That’s where the game can change. We are in control of our happiness if we want to be. What we spend time doing, who we spend time with, how our attitude is every day, where we put our energy, and what we know is our “why”.
It’s in our control if we take the time to block out the noise around us and listen inward.
We don’t have to fear the limelight as long as we show up as our true authentic selves and put into the world what is deep inside us and makes us energized and driven toward a life full of happiness.
What we should all fear is suppressing that voice and following the direction of what others think we should do. What others care about. What others are doing.
Because their decisions don’t affect us.
The people who we want to be around the most and who love, support, and respect us are never making it about them. They are only asking us one question, “What do you want?”
Are we prepared to trust our inner voice and answer?
We actually don’t need to make monumental big changes. That’s a common misconception.
It’s the small changes that matter. The ones that are incremental and barely even scratch the surface. The ones that almost no one would notice if they looked at us or our work.
The ironic thing is that’s how big moments happen. From very small, microscopic adjustments over a long period of time.
That’s the only way true change can happen. It has to become part of us. We have to rewrite our DNA, in a way.
That takes time. It’s okay that it takes time. We just have to be prepared for the long haul. We may not be able to see the impact early on but we have to trust it’ll have a monumental effect on our life.
We have to believe it to be true and keep progressing one small step at a time.
It means we were unprepared. We failed to anticipate obstacles and we had to rush to hopefully make up for those pitfalls. Potentially, that enters in more new obstacles or mistakes.
When we are always finding ourselves in a hurry, rushing to finish things, putting out fires, or “busy”, we must first have the awareness to look within at what we can control.
Although it’s easy to blame the outside world for meetings, extra work, or the lights that keep turning red it becomes much more powerful to recognize the control we have well before these even enter into reality.
Creating systems and rules to be better-prepared upfront can eliminate the need for countless “on the fly” decisions when we are behind.
Preparation can become one of the sharpest tools in your arsenal.
What happens to our imagination as we grow older? I’m sure scientific discoveries may point to a particular time in our brain’s development but I’m always curious how much our society has to play in this.
Is it parenting? Our education systems? Or nutrition? Or other factors?
Why do some of us continue to have our imagination and our sheer wonder of things well into adulthood when many others block it out and rarely recreate those childhood feelings?
Having a vivid and wild imagination can create some of the most ingenious things and help our world progress further ahead, in a positive direction, for generations to come. It can make us more creative and unlock the potential for happiness. It can help us question our surroundings and develop our purpose.
I’m wondering how we could tap into that more often and have it “on-demand” versus locking it away for only special occasions.
I’m just curious.
Our imaginations can be a wild and freeing thing.
I thought it might be something we could all ponder for a bit today.
One of the perks of a good life is to be pampered. Have the red carpet rolled out for us and let us enjoy the fruits of our success.
AC and Heating units, warm baths, packages delivered right to our doorstep, internet, and streaming services. It’s all really comfy.
Comfy is an advantage of the “luck of the draw” living in a first-world country.
But comfy can turn into complacency quickly. Getting too comfortable can make us more fearful of things “out there” we hear about. It can make us be settled with what we have now in order to not rock the boat and potentially harm our “status”. It can help us avoid any risk because when we think of risk we think of failure.
Comfortable is a luxury we have but we have to decide if that’s what we want.
There is no right or wrong answer as it’s up to each of us to forge our own paths but it is interesting to consider what happens when we push past being comfy and get a little (or a lot) uncomfortable.
What can we achieve?
What can we progress?
What can we endure?
Innovation and advancement come from being uncomfortable, both inside and out, to go where we’ve never been before.
James Dyson took over 5000 tries to “perfect” his Dyson vacuums before he saw traction. We can all be grateful he put that level of determination into his work or we’d still be emptying vacuum bags to this day.
We may be discouraged because of failures of the past but we also have to have a perspective that the future is unwritten. We don’t know what will happen. We have to be willing to give the door one more knock and see if it opens.
Give your project an attempt. Go ask them out. Sign-up for that race.
The hard part isn’t what happens on the other side of the door, it’s having the courage to turn the handle and live with the result that it may not open at all.
What we find out through failing is that we rarely remember the failure. We are proud that we tried.
Sadly, what we remember most often is not making the attempt at all.
That should be a much greater fear than failing; having to live with the feeling of not having enough courage to try in the first place.
We will continue to be pressed with tough situations, unsolicited advice, less than favorable reviews, and chatter from the people in the stands.
We must always remember that if we are willing to take the risk of being ourselves and putting it out into the world then this will be part of the process. We have to weather the cloud of negativity and judgment that can often hang over us.
As Teddy Roosevelt said. “…if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Read the full Main in the Arena speech here)
In a way, we need that storm to come. It proves to us the importance of our mission and nothing will stop us. It gives us the chance to believe in a better tomorrow and gives us hope. It lets us know that not everyone is willing to make the sacrifice and our mission is worthy.
Be brave. Be bold. Believe in the good we can put out in the world.
In the end, there will be people looking out the window and cursing the storm and others who are out there splashing in the puddles.
We have to ask ourselves, “Which person do we want to become?”
We live in a world where we are told that quicker is better. Faster, faster, faster.
The “hot” take
Someone is going to catch us if we slow down. Keep pressing down the accelerator.
But are they? Or is that a story we are making up in our heads?
It doesn’t mean that we have to believe that.
It’s easy to look at examples of businesses or people moving quickly but we have to ask ourselves, “Have they always been moving at “this speed” or are we just watching what happens after momentum takes over after a long winding patient process of action?”
Be intentional about what you are doing. The accelerator doesn’t always have to be pushed to the floor.
The journey will take many unexpected turns. Relish those. Learn. Adapt. But don’t rush.
Things happen when they happen.
But sometimes it’s not as fast as we may want. And we may not be able to control it.
So why get flustered?
Keep chopping wood. Keep progressing forward. Keep living your purpose.
The need for patience always comes at the most difficult times. The times when we need to take a deep breath or a “chill pill” we are normally racing around a mile a minute and worrying.
That’s where the practice of patience becomes an important part of our accessory work.
Sitting in thought. Or silence. Or going through past scenarios and how we could’ve handled them differently are all necessary practices to learn more patience.
It’s hard work. It’s uncomfortable work.
But it’s powerful.
Even sitting with our eyes closed for 5 minutes a day will bring us the mindfulness to exercise patience when we need it most. Maybe some days we might need more time, too. That’s okay and we should reward ourselves with it.
We’ll only know if we put in the work in the first place and see how we feel.
Let’s become prepared for those future moments by getting uncomfortable now and learning how to deal with them.
Patience becomes a great ally we want on our side.
Chillin’ Out, Maxin’, Relaxin’ All CoolBrian Ondrako2022-07-07T20:49:21-04:00
When we live in our bubble the things we know and feel become very familiar. Our senses are dulled because we can already anticipate what is going to happen. We see it often. It’s comfortable.
The only way to actually grow, or see if we are growing, is through exploration. Visiting a new scene, a new area, a new world.
Traveling outside our bubble can unlock many “spidey senses” that live deep down but don’t get to come out often. We get to have our guard up and make choices. We get to paint a portrait of a new landscape we’ve never seen before.
It can make us alive again. It gives us a perspective that the world is much bigger than our bubble and it rattles our thinking a bit. It makes us question what we believe at this moment.
That’s a good thing.
Because that’s how growth happens, through challenging our thinking, expanding our experiences, and exploring a whole new world we’ve never seen before.
It’s been 3 years since my wife and I got divorced. Funny how that much time has passed. Funny to think what we could’ve changed to make it work.
A lot of things for sure.
But, then again, it was probably the right decision. We were both unhappy.
Why stay in something that you are “lukewarm” about, at best?
But that’s what we do as humans. We sort of just settle in for what feels comfortable. We do whatever we can to hold the walls up around us in order to eliminate the abrupt pain of it all caving in at once.
We fail to recognize that having the walls cave in can allow us to rebuild a stronger foundation from the ground up. We can create a more solid structure that is long-lasting.
It doesn’t mean we have to run from every bad situation but it could mean that we have to take a hard look inward on why this is happening in the first place.
What have we done to get here? What have we done to cause this situation? What has been out of our control? How can we change for the better?
Change is really hard. I remember the time between getting “separated” and then actually leaving the house we built together. Those 5 weeks transitioning to leave the house and officially, by legal standards, become separated were brutal.
I cried a lot.
I was heartbroken.
I was depressed.
I was sad.
But then, I wasn’t.
Sure, I can be sad that we weren’t madly in love like many years prior. I can be sad that our son has to be a part of a co-parenting situation. I can be sad that the happy moments we had together would be clouded by this decision we made.
But that’s all a matter of perspective. I had the choice to be happy or sad.
So I chose to be happy.
Everything ends at some point. That’s the rub of life. It all eventually ends. Our situation ended just a bit more abruptly than originally planned. Our story just took a different direction down the wandering path.
But, I’m happy I had those moments with her. I was madly in love, and I know she was, too.
I’m happy my son gets to spend time with each of us individually and grow a stronger bond. He gets to grow up going through some shit. That’s only going to make him more resilient.
I’m happy with all those moments of happiness, laughter, and fun we had together. We had some great times. But I’m also happy for the less-than-desirable moments, too. Because, as I reflect, it’s made me grow as a person and be a better version of myself. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to go through hard times to figure that stuff out.
Life is never easy but if I’ve learned anything it’s that negativity and pessimism almost get you nowhere. I’m sure someone can tell me there is some utility to it but not much that I’ve seen.
If we can take every situation, no matter how dire, and work our way to see the sunshine and rainbows then we have a much better chance of finding the happiness inside ourselves and using that as fuel to power us forward.
It’s hard to get there when we think the world is always giving us a bad hand to play.
Once we accept that we may not have played the hand correctly then it can make it much easier to respect the outcome and move on.
It doesn’t mean we forget about the past as those moments and experiences helped define who we are, good or bad. But it gives us the opportunity to use those moments and learn from them.
We have the opportunity to start anew. Not from square one but from much farther ahead because of the wealth of knowledge we’ve gained through all of it.
Be open to change. Be receptive to it. Embrace it.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words but it’s also worth a time stamp. It’s an imprinted memory with a date circled.
It gives us a wormhole, of sorts, to the past.
How were we feeling at that moment?
Where was our life at?
What was happening to us?
Who were we becoming?
A single picture, a snapshot, can open up a wave of thoughts and emotions about life already lived.
How does that make us feel?
Are we sad that the moment is gone or grateful we had the opportunity in the first place?
Pictures capture moments. Moments become memories. Memories give us a view, although distorted, of our past.
It provides the perspective to live in the moment and not waste any of it because eventually, the present moments will become memories that we either capture with a picture or, more importantly, keep close by in our hearts.
Serendipity is all around us and when we embrace it great things can start to form. I’ve met many influential people in my life by chance. But it doesn’t happen magically by sitting around, we have to create some spark through action.
Go to that new coffee shop
Attend that event
Message that person
Join that new fitness challenge
Go do that open mic
Go run in the park
Ask someone out
Sometimes it’s nothing. But sometimes it’s everything.
Life is serendipitous.
One day you’re going along just fine and then, boom, you meet someone you weren’t sure how you lived a life without for this long.
Going into this past year the main storyline had been that Jimmy Garoppolo was probably in his last season as the 49ers starting quarterback. They drafted his replacement. Trey Lance was eager. They were just waiting things out.
Despite all of that distraction, his perseverance to stay focused has been something to admire. Even as they were going into must-win games over the past three weeks of the regular season, one to make the playoffs and the last two to stay alive, the main storyline that remained was “could this be Jimmy Gs final time suiting up in a 49er uniform”.
It had to be on his mind. It had to have been asked in every interview. The pressure to perform was at an all-time high.
And he rose to the occasion.
Did he play his best game against the Packers in the divisional round? Absolutely not. He struggled at times. He made errant throws. But he never lost focus.
When the pressure was at its highest he made several elite-level throws to help the team to victory.
He could’ve been thinking about the off-season and his next team, his shoulder injury, his thumb injury, or a myriad of other things. He could’ve been distracted.
But he wasn’t.
He was focused solely on the game and even more sharply on each play.
That’s what can happen when you focus and live in the present. You aren’t worried about the next play, the next drive, the next game. You are solely focused on the task at hand. Playing this play like it’s the only one that exists.
Because it is.
We don’t know what the next hours or weeks or months have in store so why worry or why let others’ loss of focus and dreaming of the future get in our way?
We can’t. We must stay tuned to our process. To our own cadence.
Life is random and unexpected. Things happen that can be extremely magical at times and can make us more fulfilled than we ever expected.
But we can’t take those moments for granted.
We have to be grateful for the entire path of uncertainty that led us to this point. We have to drop the ego.
If we believe we are the sole contributor to this “success” then we become shortsighted with how much luck was involved. We, therefore, miss out on the golden opportunity to gain perspective that we are incredibly lucky to even be in this position in the first place.
Being in the right place at the right time. Other decisions in the past led us down this path (a breakup, getting laid off, etc). Swiping in the right direction.
Most of it is luck.
The timing is lucky.
Serendipity plays a big part in our journey.
By using gratitude as a tool to open up opportunities, we start building a great foundation to base decisions on knowing that inevitably a “roll of the dice” will come into play.
If it’s in our favor, we can be thankful for the opportunity. If it’s not, we can recognize that not everything will go our way and there will be many times we can’t control the outcome.
We must stay positive for the future and await the next spin of the wheel.
We can have all of the tools in the world but they are only good if we choose to use them.
Constantly, we make excuses or reasons why we can’t get certain things done. “I don’t have the time”, we tend to say.
Here’s a suggestion. Go to your Settings on your phone and check your screen time and usage for apps. (On iPhone go to >> Settings > Screen Time). Let’s bundle the social media apps…How long did you spend the last week?
If you’re struggling to “find time” then help yourself by making time.
Did you know you can set time limits on apps to help you manage overconsumption (I have a 30-minute daily timer on my social media apps)? This is one example of dozens of reminders, notifications, alarms, timers, etc that can help you manage your time, avoid distractions, commit to a project, etc.
If you are looking to become more efficient with your time, start looking at what you can take away versus looking at what you can add.
The tools are out there to help us. The question then becomes, “Are we willing to choose to use them?”
We must be thoughtful about where we want to go as that will help plot the next few steps down the path. The direction is much more important than the speed at which we arrive.
If we don’t know where we are going, it’ll be hard to pack our bags and be prepared properly for the journey ahead. Although drifting slightly of course can be corrected, the further we go down the wrong path the harder it’ll be to turn back.
Stay focused on our desired outcome and where we truly want our life to go.
If we’re not getting the results we want we could consider a few things:
It’s too early, we haven’t given ourselves enough time
We’re wrong – what we thought would work wasn’t correct and it’s time to pivot
We’re asking the wrong people – Audit your group that is sharing advice
We’re not talking to the right audience – We might have something magical but it’s not the right group of people who would benefit from it.
We overthink why things aren’t happening to us at the rate we feel they should be happening and start to think the world is out to get us. In the back of our minds, we know this isn’t really true.
If we focus from within and leverage deep self-awareness we might uncover that we are the stubborn ones who are getting in the way.
Growth happens when we are willing to admit we were wrong in the first place, put the ego aside, and move forward in a positive direction.
That positive mindset can allow us to progress with an optimistic view of the world; something that is vital to visualizing success and then staying hyper-focused to get there, no matter how long it might take.
Precious metals and jewels are generally not found on the surface. There is a lot of digging and excavation that has to happen to get to them. Then, there is additional shaving and cleaning and sifting that happens to finally get to a clear piece of material. It can be exhausting and excruciating but rewarding in the end.
When we become angry or lose hope or feel like we’re never going to be happy, we have to remember that we, too, have precious things on the inside. Somewhere, deep down in our soul, there are things we know are the most important to us, things we want to do, and the types of people we want to be around.
Maybe we’ve just settled over the years into what has become comfortable and those feelings have been buried.
We have to have the courage to dig down deep and unearth these feelings and expose who we really are.
They might end up becoming the jewels that bring us the rich life of happiness we’ve always been searching for.
Why does a Monarch butterfly do the things it does?
Here is a caterpillar, crawling around the earth and living just fine. Then, for reasons we can’t possibly fully know, it decides to create a cocoon and after a short isolation period, boom, it now has wings.
It now can fly somehow. Not only does it fly but it flies over 3000 miles to migrate in Central Mexico each year.
How does it know to do that?
What magic just happened in that cocoon?
I can’t be for certain but it’s a great metaphor for life.
We are always changing. We are always evolving our thinking. We are always moving forward.
Each day. Each minute. Each second.
Our thoughts and actions determine the person we will be tomorrow, and the next week, and the next year.
Unlike the caterpillar, we can choose our path forward.
We can create the life that we want even if today, reading this, we might not feel we can.
Those can be hard things; change, but we are capable.
We have to have the courage to take the risk of changing from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
We have to know we are capable of the hard work to create action and progress.
Seeing the mile marker in the distance as we crest over the hill can be just the motivation we need to give us the extra pep in our step to keep moving.
That’s why we should consider shorter-term goals to drive us forward instead of these large arduous massive ones years in the distance.
Goals become much more achievable when they are right there in front of us. Instead of “I am going to write a book”, maybe focus on “I’m going to put the outline together this week” or “I’m going to write 200 words tonight”. Those types of goals are much more manageable because they are realistic and time-sensitive.
It’s much easier starting out the race by focusing on getting to mile marker one versus thinking all the way through to mile marker twenty-six. There are a lot of things that will happen between the start and finish of a project so think about setting smaller “micro-goals” and giving yourself the chance to stay motivated throughout versus getting discouraged and stopping.
As we pass each checkpoint, the finish line will become closer and closer and we’ll remain committed to the ultimate goal when we started out; finishing the race.
When we are running up a hill into headwinds the initial thought might be to zig-zag back and forth to avoid hitting the wind head-on and to help level out the steepness of the hill as much as possible.
But the focus on the climb straight upward, even through the toughest conditions, will create the energy you need to get through it. “Avoiding it” may seem like a more ideal strategy but we can expel just as much energy and not nearly get as far. The headwinds can still push us back off course. Life is going to be hard either way.
The best path is always forward. Through the suck. The discomfort will last much shorter and we’ll stay on course toward our intended path. We’ll come out stronger when we reach the pinnacle.
In the metaphor for life, if we’re going to accomplish something, full steam ahead into the storm is always the way to go.
Eyewitness accounts and memory recognition can be some of the foggiest and most unreliable pieces of information when time elapses.
When in doubt, get everything on “paper” and have it confirmed.
Business contracts, project timelines, payment agreements, etc.
We become too nice and don’t want to ask for these things because we feel it’ll add friction to the relationship or slow the process down.
What we fail to recognize, and this is true for other things as well, is that delayed gratification is more valuable in the long run than the initial warm and fuzzy feeling of a “handshake” agreement.
Inevitably, there will be a time when that contract, email chain, or otherwise needs to be brought back into focus. It becomes much less stressful to utilize those agreed-upon terms than the perceived frustrations or difficult conversations we’d have to have upfront.
Write everything down and get everyone to agree with upfront on the terms so that there are no question marks when a disagreement ensues. That is the worst time to try to agree on a course of action or confirm what we remembered we discussed before.
Often, everyone’s memory starts to get a little fuzzy.
Regret might be one of the least desirable emotions to have because when it surfaces we have almost no answer to it.
It’s in the past. It’s over.
We can’t fix it or go back and that’s why it hurts so much.
However, what we have to remember is that we had the chance to make the “correct” choice at that specific time. It’s easy to use hindsight to think we got it wrong but we have to remember the person we were when the decision was made.
Were they ready to make the choice that we now regret?
Were they prepared?
Did they have the courage to think differently?
It’s useless to regret decisions from the past because the person looking back is much wiser, lived, and weathered than the one that made the decision back then. They have more information now which gives them a skewed perspective on it all. Of course, we would change it if it didn’t appear to work out in our favor.
What’s more important is that the person we are today uses our past experiences to recognize new opportunities when they surface and then makes the best decision possible for their life with the information they have available to them at the time.
This way, as the years pass, there can’t be any regret because we acted in the best way we could’ve when we were called to make the tough decision.
Growing up, when we’d have limited numbers of players for baseball, we’d put a “ghostie” on base to act as a runner.
That same mentality can be used when we are trying to push ourselves harder and farther than we ever have before. We are competing against ourselves. Against a person who we know really well. We know their weaknesses, their shortcomings, their fears.
We can visualize that “ghostie” just ahead of us. Pacing us in the race. Giving us the added motivation to kick it into another gear.
Sometimes the only motivation we need is the competition we conjure up in our heads.
When we are focusing on our projects needing to be completed and procrastination and distractions ensue, there might not be a better competitor on the planet to kick us into another gear than ourselves.
That motivation might be the difference between lagging behind our insecurities, fears, and self-doubts or pushing ourselves forward further than we ever thought possible.
We become disappointed when others are not as excited about our accomplishments as we are. We didn’t get enough likes or shares or engagement. We can let it get to our heads and change our mood, even in the midst of the accomplishment that might have been really important for us.
But, we have to remember, when others accomplish something, how often are we to compliment them, hit the simple “like” button as we are scrolling, leave a comment, etc? If we aren’t doing this often then why should we expect others to?
Getting really good at not needing the outside praise can do wonders for our psyche and it starts from a place of perspective.
The perspective we should have is that most of us are worrying about ourselves and the small bubble we live in. Other people are not intentionally avoiding us or our achievement. They just don’t necessarily care because it doesn’t benefit them directly or they are head down working on the things that are leading them toward a better life.
That’s okay. We have to be okay with this.
As long as we are living our ethos, our purpose, and putting good energy out into the world then that is all that should matter.
Because, remember, as we are focusing on that, we may be missing the opportunity to acknowledge someone else’s accomplishment. And that’s okay. We can’t be everywhere. Nor should we expect that from anyone else.
Sales are not simply “selling”. It’s much more than that.
The best sales conversations are rooted in teachable moments and come from a place of empathy.
They come from a realization that our potential buyers are busy with many other priorities but understand the importance of solving problems. However, they may not have the time to research all of the options or feel there might be too much information to make a decision.
By teaching new ideas or ways of thinking, not trying to sell a product, can open up the conversation and allow the potential buyer the freedom to consider an alternative path.
An alternative path that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered if we were just trying to sell them something right out of the gate.
In the National Football League, most teams run many of the same plays and they have adapted those plays over the years to work for their specific scheme and personnel.
That’s a great way to look at where we should spend our time when working on projects.
There is so much content online that other creators have put out freely to be helpful and we can utilize those pieces to eliminate the need to create everything from scratch ourselves.
We first need to determine what is the most important for us to shape and mold ourselves and what isn’t as important and can be adapted slightly using templates and content available.
Too often, we waste hours on something that has already been created, and borrowing it, as the creator intended, is a perfectly viable option. We should be looking to spend the majority of our time on creating the work that makes us come alive and leaving the less important and mundane aspects to adopting things already out in the world.
Spending a little time researching opportunities to not reinvent the wheel upfront can save us a ton of time and energy on the back-end.
Advice can be helpful if we understand the background of the person giving it, how much they know about us, and their intent.
Those are some of the lines we should draw on how much impact that advice has on our decisions. We can use the advice to help form our decisions or ask more questions but don’t necessarily have to take it verbatim especially if we aren’t sure of the credibility of the source.
Having agency in seeking out our own answers to unfamiliar questions by doing our own research can give us confidence in the decisions that we make. We don’t always need to take advice from others and, in fact, it can be used to slow down our decision-making process altogether.
Sometimes using our ability to problem solve ends up being the best route we can take when we are making decisions.
They may be consistently inconsistent but that’s still being consistent.
Mostly, the word consistency gets spoken about in a positive light. “Someone is consistent with doing X.”
However, we can be consistent at being rude, consistent at never returning messages, consistent at showing up late for every meeting, etc.
I created a simple formula to articulate it more and how to determine if we can change it or not.
Consistency = patterns / priority
What patterns have we established that are tried and true and won’t change without a ton of work? Think about what our friends or colleagues are “known” for. What labels can we put on them? Those are their patterns.
What are we known for?
Now, people can change. It’s true. And that is where priority comes in. The patterns never change until the priority level rises.
Once we can reprioritize what is important then we have the opportunity to alter our patterns and build consistency with new habits or routines.
That’s the only way it works.
It starts from the inside. From the belief that we can change and we want to change. Whatever the motivator it generally won’t matter until we make the tough decision to prioritize first.
When it has more priority it gets done. It gets focused on. There is a chance it can change.
But, let’s not forget. Consistency isn’t always good if it’s for the wrong things. If we prioritize things that are unhealthy or detrimental to our life then it can work in the other direction as well.
We have to continually focus on managing our priority list and making the most important things higher. We have to build better routines and habits off of those priorities. We have to be consistently good at sticking to those newly formed habits to create change.
That change can build a new foundation for us. One we can build consistent patterns off of going forward.
By creating this avenue for change, we have a better chance to become the person we want to become and it can help us change the “labels” that society puts on us, especially if we don’t agree with them.
I wasn’t able to attend our 20-year high school reunion this past weekend but as I sat and reflected on the last 20 years I was inclined to write some things down. Things I wish I wrote a long time ago.
Here are a few observations, and hopefully, we can use these ourselves, pass them down to our kids, or maybe the class of 2021/22 can gain insight into areas that were unknown to us at the time.
Taking action is the key ingredient to achieving anything. Worrying is useless. Nothing good happens when you worry. Creating action and doing things is what moves the needle. You don’t know until you know. Don’t conjure up reasons why you can’t do something. Go out and try and see what happens. You don’t fail, you learn. And then you move forward. Progress can only happen through action.
Grades don’t matter. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to get “good grades” but you shouldn’t hinge your entire adult life on how many A’s you received. Grades are generally about memorization for tests, life is about your experiences, adventures, character, community, and courage. Those things matter more than any grade could ever give you.
High school doesn’t have to be your best time. It’s a short season in the grand scheme of your life. It can be awkward and lonely. It can be hard. But, it’s your choice on how you want to spend it. Will you educate yourself with new ideas, learn a new skill, or practice something you enjoy or will you binge every Netflix series, watch TikTok videos for hours, or sit around making excuses for why you can’t do it? When you realize it’s your choice, the game changes.
Create lasting friendships. Understand why you are friends with certain people and why they are friends with you. Find your “tribe” that has similar values and is willing to challenge you to be the best version of yourself. It’s not about popularity or getting invited to the best parties. It’s about having deep, meaningful relationships with people who support you. You’ll need those friendships when life gets hard.
You can create anything you want. Despite what we were taught, you don’t have to go to college, get an entry-level job, and work your way up. You don’t have to live for retirement before you can enjoy your life. You don’t have to do any of it. Carve your own path, find what makes you happy and gives you purpose, and then explore how you live a life around that. That’s where a great life begins.
Reflecting back, 20 years appeared as it evaporated like that. Where did the time go, we are asking ourselves? It seemed like just yesterday we were walking through the halls, going to football games, and messing around, thinking we had it all in front of us. A lifetime ahead of us that we could do whatever we wanted with.
And in a flash, 20 years have passed.
There’s been tragedy and triumph, highs and lows, and many more lucky breaks than we can count.
But we’re here. Wherever we are. We are here.
Whatever has happened is in the past. Those are decisions we’ve made, good or bad. Those are opportunities we’ve pursued or missed. Those are tragedies averted or endured.
But we are still here.
So now we have a choice. We have a choice, today, to decide if we are happy or not. We have a choice to make changes in our lives to pursue happiness each and every day.
We have to believe we have a choice.
That’s the first step. There’s no more complaining. There are no more pointing fingers. There are no more excuses. Now is the time to act.
What if we knew that high school, although 20 years ago, was just the end of the first quarter. Well, then that means we are just at halftime.
It means we can change. If the playbook didn’t work, then throw it out. Start fresh and create something new and different than you ever thought possible. You can create the life you’ve always wanted, even if the first half didn’t go as planned.
Get in the locker room. Regroup. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Why can’t it be you?” Why can’t you become happier than you ever imagined?
The only way this time is different is if you put in the work. The grind. Make the tough choices. The knowledge that you’ve gained over the years is that it’s not going to be easier. In fact, it might be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, to commit to the change.
But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.
You’re worth it.
So let’s start the 2nd half off strong. When you get tired, feel defeated, or start to panic, go back and read #1 above. Progress is only created through action. Sometimes taking action is hard because it is against the grain of what others around you are doing.
But this isn’t about them.
It’s about you.
It’s about what makes you happy.
Are you ready to take the field and fight for every inch of your happiness?
The clock is starting on the 2nd half and the ball is now in your hands.
What’s the first play you are calling?
A Message To The Class of 2001, 20-Years In The MakingBrian Ondrako2021-11-28T21:58:18-04:00
If we got away from the noise and pressure of pleasing others we might find clarity in our thoughts.
As much as we might have a hard time trusting them, our thoughts paint a colorful picture of the world we’d like to live in and the person we’d like to be.
Our thoughts are truthseekers. Our thoughts are vivid and exploratory. Our thoughts hold a key that could unlock our dreams.
Which is why we often avoid them. We’re scared of what our thoughts might tell us. We fear the truth. We fear it telling us something far different than what the world wants us to be.
So we seek chaos and noise and warm bodies. We seek distractions. We thrive on being busy.
But when we get those moments of calm where our thoughts can become vibrant, those moments can wake us up and make us whole again, even if only for a few precious minutes.
Instead of running away, we should be seeking, chasing, and trying to plan more of those moments as they might end up giving us the fuel we need to power us to the next level of our growth.
We just have to bridge the gap between what the world wants us to be and what we truly want to be. That bridge is built on acceptance. We must accept the truth within and respect it for what it is. That is the only way we can start to become comfortable with our path forward.
Walking toward the truth ends up being the most honest thing we can do for ourselves and for our lives.
A hard truth in life is that we can’t be the one to someone else until we can be the one to ourselves.
Most relationships don’t end later on down the line like it appears they do. Generally, when a relationship ends it was going sideways for a long time before.
Really, they end well before they even start.
It will inevitably happen if we don’t learn to practice “self-love” and seek to understand our own inner workings on how to best communicate, trust, support and respect the other person we are with.
It can be easy to blame a significant other when things start to go bad but the hardest part, the most needed part, is figuring out what we are doing wrong and how we could fix it. The finger should only be pointing in one direction until we can figure ourselves out.
If we show up for ourselves first then we’ll be able to show up for anyone else later.
It’s harder to debate with people that have no backing for their arguments
It’s impossible to debate with people who have no domain experience in the topic that is being discussed.
We have to be careful who we are debating with before we get caught up in something that might be unnecessary in the first place.
When faced with this situation, we must ask qualifying questions to see if they actually understand the topic at hand. One question I like to lead off with is “Other than the news, name two other sources that helped you form your opinion”?
If they struggle to name them, it might be a good idea to avoid the discussion at all.
This is a great exercise for us to internalize, as well, before we enter a conversation. Should we be a bystander and ask questions or should we interject our thoughts to help inform the conversation?
Our answers to the qualifying questions might tip us off on the route we should go.
Inevitably, the holidays will come here soon and distractions upon distractions will once again give us the excuse to “just relax” until the new year.
But, we’ve fallen into that trap far too often. We know that once the new year hits we’ll face more challenges that continue to push us away from what we really want to be doing.
So Start now. Start to put a plan together today and start acting on it.
Use November to be Morevember (corny, yes) but if it helps then let’s use it.
What have you wanted to start in 2021 that you haven’t yet?
Reading a certain book
A home project
A business idea
Use this time before the holidays get ramped up to start. Block just 30 minutes this week to plan out how you are going to work on this through the holidays or tackle this project when it gets “busy”. What do the next few weeks look like until the New Year?
Every Weds morning you wake up 30 minutes earlier to put time toward it.
Each day you block 10 minutes off at lunch to focus on the project
Get a friend to join and have an accountability partner to go get coffee once a week to focus on it.
Figure out something. It doesn’t matter.
Thanksgiving will be here in a matter of days (or has already passed depending on when you read this) and then once December hits we can forget about it. We kick the can down the road another month. January is here before we know it.
New Years’ resolution time! We make these resolutions that never stick.
They don’t stick because we haven’t built the habit and routine into our day.
Start that process now and when January rolls around we’ll already have momentum because we’ve put a plan in place.
I’m almost certain this year’s New Years’ resolution will stick.
This year will be different because you are different.
You’ve made a commitment to change.
Not because of some arbitrary date change on a calendar but you’ve changed your mindset to start putting time into what you want and what you think is important.
I was dropping in on a CrossFit class in Austin recently and noticed that while we were working out as a group, one of the members of the CrossFit gym arrived and walked by all of us. She was greeted with several hellos and high fives and the mood in the room lightened even though we were engaged in an intense workout.
I don’t know anything about her but I could tell she was respected.
Respect can be earned in many different ways but at its core, it’s based on our character and how the world perceives us. It’s a reflection of many things.
None of us are great in all of these areas but it’s the recognition of those weaknesses and the willingness to improve that might be the most important part of all of this.
Because when we respect ourselves and make a commitment to improving that becomes glaring to the people around us that know us best.
How many times do we look at others and think these sorts of questions…
What’s their life like?
Why are they here?
What led them to this spot?
Are they really happy?
How often do we wonder what others are doing? How often does the curiosity peak?
It’s easy to imagine what others are going through and create stories to make our assumptions seem real.
But how often do we turn those questions back on ourselves?
How often do we pause and question where we are at?
It’s always easier to look away from our situation and judge, critique, and imagine how others’ lives are going.
The harder thing to do is let others live how they live and use that energy to focus on where we are hurting or where we are feeling anxiety and frustration in our current state. It’s hard to look in the mirror and judge the person looking back at us.
But, turning those questions back on ourselves can open up a new dimension of clarity and lead us on a clearer path toward better decisions and better answers to these questions.
Answers that, if we work to change for the better, ultimately make us happier day after day.
If you sit on a beach long enough you notice the water levels rise and fall, waves crash into the land, and the wind swirls around. It’s never the same but it’s always in unison.
It’s like motivation.
When you are motivated everything flows together; your attitude, your words, even the spring in your step.
When you are unmotivated it feels sluggish and stagnant. We feel stuck.
But unlike the unpredictability of the ocean, we can be more predictable when we get into these ruts and get out of them quicker.
We just have to recognize the patterns.
This is where journaling or other forms of documentation might be helpful. We need to understand the patterns and how we can create that spark again, and keep it going longer.
As an example, I learned that I get a ton of motivation from feeding off critiques and feedback from trusted friends. When I start to feel unmotivated, I trigger myself to have a conversation with one of them. They give me that spark. It resets my brain and I can get unstuck much quicker.
Your spark could be anything so the first step is to recognize when you begin to feel motivated and analyze how you got there. What got you there? That’s a great place to start.
You want to recreate that feeling whenever you start to get into a low spot.
It’ll help you return there more often and get you out of a rut much sooner.
We either want to be in the driver’s seat or kick back and relax as a passenger.
We can make it that binary.
Are we taking action or stalling?
Are we carving out our path forward or following what others tell us to do?
Are we in control of our emotions or react to every situation?
Do we tell ourselves when it’s time to stop or are we influenced by the judgment of others?
If we happen to be in the passenger seat at this moment then there’s no better time to try and take the wheel. We may not be able to control the outcome of what happens but we can control our effort and action toward completing the objective we believe in.
We get to become the main character in our own story if we just take the wheel and have the courage to lead.
It won’t be easy, it never is, but it’ll be worth it once we get a little further ahead.
We have to have the courage to try.
We never know if it’ll be the right path until we connect the dots looking backward. So we have to just put our foot on the gas and trust it’ll work out.
As the great Bobby Frost famously wrote, “I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”
One of the most difficult parts of starting anything is if it feels like it’s going to be a long and arduous process with no end in sight. We get discouraged right out of the gate.
This happens a lot when we set a barrier for entry to new habits and routines too high.
Something we may consider to overcome some of these challenges is what I call “Script the First 15”. Similar to how a head football coach may script the first set of plays during the game, we can do the same for our life.
Think of all the actions that are being taken in those first 15-minutes and write them down so we have a clear vision of exactly what needs to be accomplished.
Having this checklist can allow us to be more hyper-focused on completing what we’ve said we want to complete and can create momentum for the minutes or hours following this where we might continue on with this particular project or task.
When we write it down it allows us to stay on track. 15-minutes is a short enough amount of time where we don’t lose focus but feel free to switch this to 10 minutes or even 5 minutes. Whatever works for you.
The more days we can stay on track the better chance we have to develop a great routine.
“Script the First 15” and we can set ourselves up for success right out of the gate and keep the momentum flowing for the rest of the day.