“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.” ~Unknown
One of the most difficult parts of reaching your goals or making positive change is pushing through discomfort.
This is where a lot of people give up—when the process inspires all kinds of challenging feelings.
If you’ve quit your day job to pursue your passion, and after six months you need to sell your car to keep going, a cubicle may appeal to your need for security.
If you’d like to get your masters degree but received rejection letters for the fall, your ego might tell you not to reapply.
If you’d love to let someone into your life but you’re afraid of being hurt, you may bail at the first sign of conflict.
Maybe your will is strong enough to clear emotional hurdles without flinching; but odds are you’re at least a little familiar with that nagging inner voice that says, “Go back. It’s too hard. It’s not worth it.”
Except it is. According to the video 212 degrees, the margin of victory for the last ten years in the Indy 500 has been 1.54 seconds. The margin of victory in all major golf tournaments in the last 25 years was only three strokes.
The day you give up could easily be three strokes before you succeed. Even if your future doesn’t unfold exactly as you’d planned, you’ll never regret what you become through the process of following your bliss.
Now it’s just about how. How do you separate yourself from your fears so they don’t sabotage your efforts? How do silence that inner voice and force yourself to keep taking step, after step, after step? Here’s what I’m working on now:
1. Identify potential challenges and decide that you can meet them.
List all the factors that could encourage you to quit. Be specific. What sacrifices will be the most difficult? What changes might push you way out of your comfort zone?
Then ask yourself this: what’s the payoff if you keep going?
I’m currently maintaining a jam-packed schedule with freelance work, this site, and my book. I would far prefer to cut out some of the freelance work, but for now, that’s the price of indulging my passions. For now.
Juggling all of these responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming. Then I remember I chose this lifestyle to support my vision, and I am making progress.
It also helps to remind myself that busy-ness does not have to create stress. I can have a lot to do without worrying about it. Being anxious won’t get things done any faster; it will just suck the joy out of something I love.
2. Observe your emotions without resisting them.
Unless you have a lobotomy, you will experience rushes of emotion all throughout your life. What’s important to realize is that you are not your feelings or thoughts. You exist beyond the machine that is your mind.
This is where you’re able to experience life as it actually is without analyzing, judging, forming opinions, conjuring up images of the past, and worrying about the future.
So notice your feelings. Feel them. Realize they aren’t permanent—you won’t always feel scared, or anxious, or paranoid.
When you stop resisting something it’s a lot easier to let it go.
3. When your emotions get louder, challenge them with more emotions.
In The Power of Now Eckhart Tolle explores how we can quiet our persistent inner monologue and seep fully into the present moment, accepting it for all it is.
Most people who reach this level of enlightenment still go back and forth between observing the mind and submitting to it. This tells me we need a few tricks up our sleeve to get past the louder mental moments.
Recently I’ve been appealing to “future me.” When “present me” feels scared and wants to curl up in a corner, I remind myself that future me will be proud, grateful, and satisfied if I don’t.
No matter how uncomfortable change can be, I know what I do now creates what I feel tomorrow. And I know it’s worth moving through fear.
4. Celebrate all your minor victories.
When we have large goals, it’s tempting to feel dissatisfied until we’ve reached them completely. If you want to produce a feature film, securing the first location might seem like little more than an item on your to-do list.
But it’s so much more than that. It’s your first of many successes on the way to your dream. It’s a reflection of how amazing you are—how talented, capable, driven, and powerful you are at your core.
If you give yourself a lot of credit for every small thing, you’ll likely keep piling them up—and that’s what gets you where you want to be.
5. Call yourself a liar.
Oftentimes people give up because they’ve stopped believing in the possibility of the life they want to create. They start rationalizing in their head, “It’s probably too far-fetched.” Or they may even trick themselves into believing they don’t really want it.
“I don’t want that promotion anyway. It would be far too much travel.”
There’s a small chance this is actually true, but most likely you’re bargaining with yourself so you feel have permission to quit. Say it loud and proud: “That’s not true. I can do this. I do want it. I will keep going.”
This is your chance—right now—to live the life you want to live. This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. You are the connection you’ve been hoping to make. You are the light you’ve been seeking.
So shine on. Plow ahead. Be bold. Be present.
I’ll meet you on the other side of resistance.
Photo by RonAlmog