Who this post IS for:
- Anyone curious as to what gets people started and what keeps them going.
What you should expect:
- Some personal shit that hopefully gets (and keeps) your ass moving.
And he looked at her.
Outwardly sympathetic, but inwardly just as broken.
“It’s a tragic paradox isn’t it?”
The girl looked back at him quizzically, not entirely sure of what he was referring to.
Seeing the confusion in her dark-brown eyes, the man continued,
“That to achieve everything, you must first give it up”
Her eyes changed.
Dark-brown still, but this time something lit them up.
Her mind started wandering.
Not in the lost kind of way, but more as if she was in the process of finding something.
“The thing people want most.
Subsequently dependent on the thing they are least likely to give.”
Her eyes changed one last time, right when she needed it most.
Flipping a switch she no longer knew she had.
And just like that,
Every light came on.
Let me ask you a few questions.
These first few questions you don’t need to answer, just think:
- Why do seemingly depressed people crave a happy life,
but refuse to get out of their bed?
- Why will girls cry themselves to sleep over their figure,
but then allow themselves to eat poorly the next day?
- Why do boys dream of the world’s greatest pick-up-line,
but freeze when it comes time to say it?
Or to put things in simpler terms:
Why do so many people dream of something only to skip the actions necessary to achieve it?
Next, what do you want to change most about your life?
Be brutally honest with yourself .
Remember, you aren’t auditioning for Ms. America, so there is no need for a “correct answer”. The only required answer is an honest one.
Maybe you want to go back to school and get your degree.
Maybe you want to finally join a gym and get in shape.
Or maybe you desperately want to ask out the cute girl in class.
Whatever it is, find the best and most honest answer you can.
Something you genuinely want.
Now that you have an answer,
What have you done recently to chase that goal?
This isn’t meant to shame you, it is simply meant to paint a picture.
So once again, think, be honest, and answer:
For some, you may be working towards those goals.
Striving to make changes.
Chasing your dreams.
For many of us though, we will quickly find that those goals we crave to achieve — we haven’t even pursued.
Maybe we’ve given it a shot, just to fizz out and give up shortly after.
Kind of like a boy approaching a cute girl, only to turn away at the last second.
Or like the time we joined a gym just to cancel our membership a few weeks later.
We have an idea of what we want but we can never bring ourselves to genuinely go after it. Not really anyways, and definitely not for long.
What is the hang up?
Why do we stumble doing these things, especially when so many people undertake these same tasks and flourish.
Is there just something wrong with us? Do certain people not encounter the same difficulties or hurdles as us? Is it just easier for them? Do they never suffer from a lack of inspiration?
What is the problem?
Let me tell you about the time I lost 100 pounds.
While in high school, I became pretty obsessed with sports.
Football, in particular.
And while I was a decent(ish) player, I always dreamed of being something greater.
Despite this desire to become better, I (like too many high school kids) consistently devalued my physical fitness in favor of a more comfortable lifestyle.
Eating. Chilling. Playing games with friends.
I wanted to work on my fitness, and I wanted to become a better player. But when it came time to get to work and do those things, I decided that I wanted “Netflix (with my friends) and Chill (with my cheetos)” just a little bit more.
My fascination with the aforementioned activities caused me a handful of problems.
Like, dropping out of football — huge regret.
And most notably, tipping the scales at 273 pounds — huger regret.
Eventually, like the possibility of football stardom, high school ended. My dreams of getting in shape died alongside the small flicker of inspiration that sports had previously allotted me.
After awhile I began coming to grips with my shortcomings and the life that I lived.
It wasn’t what I wanted — what I dreamed of — but I figured it was good enough.
And then, I met a girl.
(which I’m pretty sure is the beginning to every great story ever.)
She had four eyes, two gaped teeth, and a laugh that could shatter glass. And of course, I was absolutely crazy about her. 1
Unfortunately, up until that point, I had never seriously considered that maybe women weren’t tripping over themselves for a guy pushing 300 pounds. Luckily, she made that point very clear when she dropped, in the form of 11 delicately chosen words, the verbal equivalent of a Mike Tyson knock-out-punch:
“I’m just not attracted to you… and I never will be.”
I can’t remember exactly what I replied or how I reacted. But I do vividly remember how I initially felt and that I never wanted to feel like that again.
Heartbroken, frustrated, and pissed off, I did what most 18 year olds would do — I listened to sad songs and posted emotional Facebook statuses. 2
Oh… and I lost 100 pounds.
Suddenly a fat kid became fit.
And a goal I had struggled with my entire life became the cornerstone to my entire career.
What allowed me to finally go after something I had previously always failed to chase?
Let me explain how to get started.
New habits, projects, and goals are difficult because of the dread associated with doing them.
- Getting up to go to the gym.
- Sitting down to write a paper.
- Skipping fast food on the drive home.
Each of these actions are accompanied by a very particular sensation; the overwhelming feeling that we would rather do anything else.
This occurrence is so difficult to overcome because of how easy it is to misunderstand altogether.
What we are feeling isn’t a sense of dread.
What we are feeling is just fear masquerading as an entirely different emotion.
We fear the associated actions with our goals. The short term discomforts that go hand in hand with any goal we find important.
That’s all it is — Fear.
And the worst part is that we become so afraid that, not only do we refuse to rise to action, we lie to ourselves about why we’re so reluctant to face our fears.
You don’t skip your workouts because you hate working out.
You skip your workouts because you are afraid of getting up.
And it’s those moments when you are most afraid, when the world gives you every reason to stay sitting, that it is most important to stand up.
To do that, you must give yourself a reason why.
A reason to get out of bed in the morning.
A reason to succumb to those short term discomforts.
Something that you want more than the comfortable lifestyle you have been living.
Typically this is a new and bigger fear. For me it was the feeling of rejection. For you it may be something else entirely. It could be your health that scares you, the fear of failure, or the idea of never reaching your potential.
It doesn’t matter what your reason is. It only matters that you do find it.
Once you find a reason why, you must get started.
And once you get started, you must keep going.
Which brings us to our next story…
Let me tell you about a letter I never sent.
Have you ever noticed that the most difficult part of writing is simply getting started? 4
You begin every piece, every letter, with a thousand things to say. Yet, as soon as you sit down, pick up a pen, and begin to write — you all of a sudden become more blank than the page you’re staring at.
Maybe I am the only one with this problem, but I doubt it. Maybe you’ve dealt with it too. I really think most of us do. At least, us normal people.
Do you think great authors suffer from this same struggle?
Do you think J.R.R. Tolkien had trouble getting his initial words into writing, despite owning a brilliant story within his head? Or do you think J.K. Rowling struggled with the first few pages of Harry Potter?
I’m not sure, but I selfishly hope so.
Because it would make me feel a lot better about struggling to write you now. Although beyond that, I also have no idea why I feel the staggering compulsion to do so. And honestly, despite this longing to write to you, I have no idea what I even want to say.
That was always kind of the case with you though:
- I had no idea why you were so funny — you just were.
- I had no idea why you were so easy to talk to — you just were.
- I had no idea why, in a room full of people, you stood out — you just did.
And now, I have no idea why I want to write to you.
I just do.
So, if you’d like, keep reading.
And I’ll keep writing.
That is exactly what I did too.
I kept writing.
I wrote about my life, my passions, my thoughts, my struggles.
I wrote about a girl that had incidentally managed to brand herself into the back of my head.
I wrote about a lot of things, but most importantly:
The page that seemed so hard to fill became full. One page turned into two and then three pages became four. Before my eyes that troublesome first page grew, and it continued to do so for exactly 200 pages.
Surprisingly, the following 199 pages were infinitely easier to write than the first. Where as the beginning few words were horribly difficult to force out, the following words seemingly dragged me along behind them; my pen struggling to keep up with the emotions that floated in my head.
Suddenly a struggling writer wrote.
And a letter that I had struggled to begin (and never even sent) became the most treasured thing I have ever written.
How had something so previously difficult, in a matter of seconds, become so very easy?
Let me explain how to keep going.
The reason for telling the stories above was to help illuminate the specific catalyst that inspired my (ongoing) transition from attempt to success.
The tragic irony of any venture is that the longer you do it, the easier it becomes to keep doing.
The phenomenon is easy to label, but the feeling is difficult to explain… unless you’ve felt it.
In the story of my letter, something funny happened as I continued writing. The rest of the world began to fade away. Each breath I took became electric, and each word I wrote took on the semblance of a snow ball, gaining speed and size as I continued to roll along. I began to transcend the struggles that I had originally felt upon starting.
I had gained momentum.
You’ve undoubtedly experienced this very same phenomenon, we all have, albeit in a potentially less noticeable way.
Think back to the things you dreaded as a child. Taking a shower, cleaning your room, eating your vegetables (this still might be an issue). Your parents pushed you to do them, regardless of your complaints or cries, and over time they became less difficult. You may still have an occasional day where you dread cleaning your room, but it pales in comparison to the tear-filled and diaper-draped days of old.
In these cases, you’ve gained momentum too.
That is the key.
Most of us fail simply because we don’t give ourselves enough time to succeed. We never give things a chance to get easier. We never allow ourselves to actually follow through.
Somewhere along the lines, over the course of time, we started to confuse the natural order of work. We began believing that work followed inspiration.
This isn’t the case.
Work precedes inspiration.
Or more accurately,
Work inspires inspiration.
To paraphrase Steven Pressfield: 5
“You mustn’t wait for inspiration, you must act in anticipation of its apparition.”
It’s unfortunate because the real answer to all of this is terribly cliche. That if you want to achieve something you must simply get started, and from there you must keep going, building momentum and gaining inspiration with each small success.
Once done consistently and with the right reasons, astonishing feats become not only realistic — they become imminent.
And if you don’t?
Well, you aren’t going to change shit.
It’s up to you, and that is also where the beauty lies.
It’s on you — It always has been.
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