I’m thrilled to hear that over the course of the last couple of months, I’ve managed to influence and encourage readers of my blog to take action, to effect change and to make bold decisions toward the life they seek to have.
It’s quite humbling when I hear these stories and have people reach out to me to thank me for my words and perspective. I must admit, sometimes it can feel lonely writing out my thoughts, opinions and experiences with the blind faith that someone, somewhere out there in the world is not only reading them but enjoying them enough to apply them to their lives.
I suppose just like anyone else, validation enables and empowers me to continue and to persevere. It helps me push on, keep writing, keep upbeat and committed toward helping others gain a new perspective and some useful tools to effect change. It’s not always easy but it’s moments like these that make me realise where the true reward lies, so thank you.
It’s one thing to get inspired, to feel the rising heart beat and the rush of determination to make some decision but it’s another thing to maintain it. It turns out that maintaining a pot plant or a gold fish isn’t quite as exhilarating and fun as the day you buy it.
From the promises of getting fit and healthy after a binge, studying harder after a bad exam result or vowing to change jobs after yet another crappy day at work, it’s very easy to get excited, to jump on the bandwagon and to talk about grand plans. It’s another thing to make the decision toward making that change become reality.
I’m glad some people – and hopefully many silent readers too – have plucked up the courage to not just talk about their aspirations but to start pushing buttons to make those dreams come true.
So today I want to introduce the next level.
Great – you’ve made a big decision and that’s awesome. You will feel a sense of euphoria and adrenaline because change has that affect on us. Like jumping into a cold swimming pool, a fire alarm to wake you up or just being dropped out of your comfort zone, change gives you that momentary sense of alertness, energy and the rush.
It’s then another entirely different thing to keep chasing that reality and not get perturbed, distracted and influenced by the ‘reality check poo pooers’. This is where your beliefs and true character get pushed to the limit.
I’ve spent the last eight or so months since selling my companies in this state of euphoria. I’m ‘free’, I’ve made wonderful friends, moved countries, thrown myself into things that I love and have completely turned my life around on the happiness scale. Here I am writing my blog, playing and creating music, doing my rowing, spending time with beautiful friends and the road ahead is very positive indeed.
But there’s a sustainability problem that I’ve slowly come to learn with this. Kind of like the honeymoon period or that million dollar feeling after eating a whole packet of Oreos and they haven’t digested yet. There’s the rise, the peak, the flatline, the decline, the dip and flatline until it rises again. As a friend and I joked back home, life is just about peaks and troughs. Seth Godin wrote a brilliant book about this called The Dip and I thoroughly encourage you to buy it.
The Dip is that period where your mood/life/whatever is on the decline. You’re starting to face the middle of the race and things are starting to hurt. This is where you need to have a plan in place so you don’t get rattled and end up throwing in the towel. Seth found that people who work through the dip efficiently and constructively not only spend less time there but normally always turn lemons into lemonade. Again, read Seth’s book – you won’t regret it.
I’m very aware of the dip as I’ve been there more times than I can remember and after eight months since I walked away from my old life, I’m realising that my meteoric rise here in San Francisco is starting to flat line. Not because of anyone or anything but because of me. I’ve reached that point in the race – the first cramp – and it’s now not up to adrenalin, the cheering crowd or euphoria but just me and my mind. This part of the race is 100% mind over matter.
I was sent an interesting article today by a friend of mine on the notion of ‘grit’ which can be found here for those interested. Grit is loosely defined as sheer, pig-headed determination. That feeling when halfway through a workout, it hurts like buggery and you realise you’re just half way through but you clench your teeth, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and you push on.
Interestingly, I’ve found when I hit these weird spots in a workout, I just focus on each stroke and suddenly don’t feel pain anymore. In fact, I start to gain confidence to push harder again until I look back at the screen of my rowing machine and suddenly the pain rushes back. It’s amazing how we can work through huge pain barriers by simply distracting our brain.
After eight glorious months of sleep ins, reading, rowing, music, chilling and thinking about life, I’m now very much ready to move on. I made the decision it was time to start a new project and it’s much like the first time you go back to a workout after a holiday. It’s been pretty painful and I’ve been having to really dig deep to push through the resistance.
So how am I doing it? Well I’m reverting back to rowing and going to just focus on each single task at hand without looking at the scoreboard. I figure that if I just incrementally do each thing well that’s aligned with my chosen new path and way of being, the score will somehow figure itself out.
I’m interested to hear your thoughts and what works for you. Please teach me something.