May the Force be With You
Someone asked me recently what I do. For the sake of simplicity, I said that I work with people so they can learn to focus on what’s important in their lives. I ask them questions, get them to think, get them to wrap their minds around the real stuff of life.
I help them learn to get what they want out of life. It wound up being an interesting conversation that took about 15 minutes. I hope it won’t take you that long to read this.
As a coach, I am here for you, and I can tell you all that I have learned, in this little article about how to get what you want in life. So as an experiment, I want you to take just a second to think about what you want.
And I want you to be selfish this time! This is about you, not any “we” stuff. Just you.
I don’t want it to sound good to other people. I don’t care. I ask my clients “what do you want?” Do you want to be thinner? Do you want to quadruple your income? Do you want to start a non-profit, increase your sales, enter politics, do you want to find love?
Focus. I know you know what it is, and for God’s sake, don’t analyze it to death. Just pick something. That is part of the problem with most people; you, or they, won’t pick.
I work directly with my clients, about what they want and ultimately getting it. That is coaching.
No, You’re Not Fine
Getting what you want is simple. But I didn’t say it was easy. That thing you have in your head, that idea of what you want, whatever it might be, e.g., you want to use healthy eating to deal with an illness, you want to figure out how to take care of your elderly parents, you want to move to Columbia and start a hospital. You can walk into a book store this very minute and buy at least a dozen books written by scientific or business experts on how to do it! You could use some search engine and find thousands of blogs by people doing just what you want to do. You can even find anyone on line and cyber-stalk them, learning lessons along the way. Just follow along behind because someone else has already done it, is doing it, now.
So why don’t you have what you want since you have all the information that you need? You have the contacts and odds are you can find free tools online to start your business, join a group, or whatever you want.
I learned in a session with a financial advisor what it comes down to in one word:
F # % @
The f-bomb. You hear it everywhere from the mouths of almost everyone you know or meet. I honestly don’t understand what the appeal of the word is. Consider this; you don’t sound smart when you say it. It really isn’t expressing how you truly feel. It is sort of a cheap linguistic shot to take at the world. And of course you know that I am talking about the word:
“How are you doing?” …” I’m fine.”
Are you really?
Feeling like roommates with your spouse or partner, and you’re fine?
You despise your job?
You haven’t had sex in three months…you’re fine?
Really? I don’t think so.
Saying you’re fine is just superb, because if you are, you don’t have to do anything about it. Ever.
When I think about the word “fine” it can really piss me off. If you’re reading this blog and you describe your experience of life for yourself as being fine? The experience of being alive is just fine?
What a weak and feeble word to use! If you feel amazing, say you feel amazing. If you are feeling like shit, say you feel like shit!
Tell the truth.
And this not only goes for that nasty social construct: “Oh, I don’t want to burden you with the fact that my life sucks.” Or this one: “Hey I am frigging amazing, but that would make you feel awful.”
The bigger issue with “fine” is that you say it. That thing you want? I pretty much guarantee you that you’ve convinced yourself you are fine not having it. That is why you aren’t pushing yourself. It’s the areas in your life where you have given up, where you’ve said:
- It’s fine, my mom is never going to change, so I just can’t have that conversation with her.
- I’m fine, I lost my job and can hardly pay my bills.
- I’m fine, we are just going to sleep in separate bedrooms until the kids get out of school, that’s just the way it is.
Another reason that word makes me crazy is because geneticists have discovered the odds of you being born, being born you. They did the heavy lifting and math on us all being born. Somehow they managed to take into account wars, the natural disasters, the diseases, the things that might eat you, and everything else. Do you realize that the odds of you being you being born when you were born, with the parents that you had, with your unique DNA, are about one in four quadrillion? That looks like this:
Some studies say one in 400 trillion, but I think the larger number is actually more likely. So—you aren’t just fine, you’re fantastic, a damn miracle! You have life changing—maybe world changing—ideas for a reason, and it’s not just to torture yourself. We are all in that unique category, one in four hundred quadrillion!
So, what do you do with those unique ideas? Nothing….
Turn Off the Snooze Button
We all have) an inner snooze button. You have these amazing ideas that just naturally bubble up, like ping pong balls, and every time you have an idea what do you do? You hit the snooze!
What was the first choice you made this morning? I bet it was to hit the snooze button on your phone or alarm clock, and sleep for a couple of minutes more.
“Yep, for my first decision as one in four hundred quadrillion, I think I’ll go back to sleep!”
The reason I am bringing up this first choice of the day and the inner snooze alarm, is because in any area of your life that you want to change—any—there’s one fact that you need to know.
You are never going to feel like it. Ever.
No one’s coming, motivation isn’t happening by itself, you are never going to feel like it. Ever.
It is called “activation energy.” It’s a chemistry term that refers to the minimum energy required to start a chemical reaction. For our purposes, you can call it the force that’s required to get you to change from what you are doing on autopilot to do something new.
So try this test tomorrow.
Tomorrow morning, set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than normal. And when it goes off, get up and start your day. No snooze, no delay, no “I’ll just wait here for five seconds because Frank’s not standing here.” Just do it.
And the reason I want you to do it is because you will come face to face with the physical force that is required to change your behavior.
Even if You Hate it, Do it
Do you think that someone who needs to lose weight ever feels like going on a diet? Of course not! Do you think they ever feel like eating boiled chicken and broccoli instead of pasta with cream sauce? I don’t think so!
The activation energy required to get your ass away from your computer and out your front door, to go on the walk you said you were going to go on, is the exact same force that it takes you to push yourself out of a warm bed into a cold room.
Being an adult means no one tells you that it’s now going to be your job to parent yourself. And by “parent yourself” I mean it’s now your job to make yourself do the crap you don’t want to do, so you can be everything that you are supposed to be, and you are just too frigging busy waiting to feel like it. And you are never going to.
My 20-year-old son never feels like getting off his Xbox. It used to be my job to make him turn it off; now it’s his.
When you were a kid, your parents made you do things you didn’t feel like doing, such as “cut the grass, study, get out of the pantry, be home by 10.” Because without their rules, you wouldn’t. Not now, not then, not ever! And even if you get good at doing something, you’ll figure out something else you don’t want to do. Then you’ll hit a plateau, get bored, “I hate this job…yada, yada, boring.”
But will you get off your butt and look for a new one? No! You’ll just bitch about that one for way too long.
It is really pretty simple to get what you want.
It’s just not easy.
You have to force yourself, and I mean force. You have to force yourself to create new habits. I use the word force because you have two sides of your brain. I know that neuroscience has descriptions for the anatomy of the brain but for this article, let’s simplify it. One side of your brain is the auto-pilot; the other side is the emergency brake. The only two speeds you get—autopilot and emergency brake.
And guess which one your brain likes better?
We all have had the experience of driving somewhere and when you get there, you think to yourself:
“Oh crap, I don’t remember ever driving here.”
That was your brain on autopilot. It was functioning, just at a lower level. The problem with your mind is that anytime that you do anything that’s different from your normal routine, guess what your brain does? Right—emergency brake!
And it has that reaction for everything. You walk into the kitchen and you see that your husband has left the dishes for you to do. And you think for the thousandth time, “I’m going to kill him; in fact, I am going to leave it all here and I’m going to make him do it.” But that isn’t your normal routine, is it? So, your mind goes “emergency brake!” and you go right back on autopilot and get pissed and decide not to have any sex that night. Brilliant solution.
Use the Force
Anything that is a break from your routine is going to require force. If you think about life, first we’re kids, and then we become adults, and we spend so much time trying to push our life into some sort of stable routine, and then we get bored with it. You wake up at the same time every day. You eat mostly the same breakfast, you drive to work on the same roads, you show up at work and look busy, you avoid making calls, you update Facebook, you go to the daily meeting and doodle the whole time, you go back and update Facebook again and make plans for the evening, you look busy some more, then you drive back home the same way, eat basically the same dinner, you watch the same kind of entertainment, and then you go to bed and do the same thing all over again tomorrow.
No wonder you are bored out of your mind!
It is the routine that is killing you. I heard this theory about why people get stuck in life. Almost everyone who took Basic Psych 101 in college, has heard about Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs.”
You have these basic sorts of needs. Your body and mind are wired to send you signals:
- If you are hungry, what do you feel?
- If you need water, what do you feel?
- If you need sex, what do you feel?
I think that when you feel stuck or dissatisfied with your life, it is a signal. It isn’t a signal that your life is broken. It is a signal that one of your most basic needs isn’t being met. Your need for exploration. Everything about your body, your life grows. Your cells regenerate, your hair, your nails, everything grows for your entire life. I think that your soul, too, needs exploration and growth. The only way you’ll get it is by “forcing” yourself to be uncomfortable. Forcing yourself to get outside out of your head.
Get Out of Your Head!
If you are in your head, you are way behind enemy lines! If you put a speaker on it and broadcasted what you say to yourself, we would probably want to institutionalize you, or put you in jail for abuse. You wouldn’t hang out with people that talk to you that way you talk to yourself. So, get out of your head! Your feelings are screwing you.
I don’t care how you feel; I care about what you want!
If you listen to how you feel, when it comes to what you want, you will never get it. Because you’re never gonna feel like it, but you need to get outside of your comfort zone. It isn’t about taking risks, per se; it is about getting out of your comfort zone.
The Critical First Five Seconds
Those first five seconds when you push yourself out of bed, they suck, don’t they? But once you’re up, it’s great, right? Those first five seconds when you’re at a seminar and someone says, “Get up and dance,” and you think, “Oh hell yeah, I should do that,” then you’re like “uhmmm.” It’s that experience you had, where you had the impulse to do it, and then you didn’t find the activation energy you needed to force yourself, and your emergency brake got pulled. “I’m just going to sit right here, I’m not going up with those fools, I don’t like to dance!”
On the other hand, what can happen when you get up? You bump into someone you don’t know, you discover who they are, you get to be friends or colleagues. Now you find out how it all happens; outside of your head is where the magic happens. Just sitting there, nothing happens.
This gets us to the five second rule. It is almost an axiom, but for now, let’s call it a rule. Your mind can process a facial expression in about 33 milliseconds. The other thing it does really quickly is if you have one of those little thoughts, if you don’t realize that thought or impulse with an action in about five seconds, you just pull the emergency brake and throw out the idea. You kill it.
If you have that impulse and dance to the music you hear at the party, and you don’t stand up and dance within about five seconds, you’re going to pull the emergency brake. If you have an impulse because you were inspired by something you read or hear, and you don’t do something within five seconds such as write a note, send yourself a text, anything physical to connect that thought to an idea, you’re gonna pull the emergency brake and kill the idea.
Your problem is that you don’t act on your ideas. You kill them. It isn’t anybody’s fault; you’re doing it to yourself.
You are 1:400,000,000,000,000,000. There are things you are supposed to accomplish. And it isn’t going to happen in your head… or sitting on your sofa.
So, go out and practice this today. When you go out after you finish this article, to work, to lunch, to have a drink, whatever, I want you to practice the five second rule. You see someone and you think, you have an impulse, “they look interesting,” walk over and meet them. You are inspired by someone and you have a thought or a request. Go over and ask them. Experiment with this and I think you will be shocked with what happens. Force yourself.
One more thing. I want you to know that everything I do—my coaching, my blogs, my seminars—they are all for you. If there is anything that I can do, if I can do anything to help you do the things you don’t want to do so you can have what you want, I will do it.
But you need to open your mouth, send an email, send a text, you need to make the request.
You got it? Good…now go do it.
So, you don’t think everything is fine anymore? Is there something you need to work on?
If the answer is yes, give me a call so we can talk about it… schedule a time for a free call and tell me about it.
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