I struggled for years to get off my ass and start living my life. I had hurdle after hurdle, excuse after excuse. Inaction, no action, throwing my hands up and losing focus of the dream or any dream for that matter.
Despite me wishing otherwise, sitting around and waiting for something to change usually leads to frustration, anxiety and disappointment when it doesn’t magically appear.
The bubble is burst, a big change or massive outcome in your life just can’t happen overnight. We have to make tiny little progresses every single day. (Did I just make up that word?)
Do you have these little twinges in the far reaches of your mind, little twinkling lights that appear from time to time suggesting ideas that you push away such as: I need to get more sleep. I need to drink less wine. I need to stop spending so much money. I need to start saving more for retirement. I need to end this toxic relationship (insert whomever that is!). I need to eat less. Read more. Exercise more. Travel more. Be present with my kids. Have a more intimate relationship with my partner. Pay off debt. Change jobs. Get off my ass and start doing whatever it is that I want to do.
Well I do. And a few of those might be mine. And it took me awhile to give the right amount of attention to these twinges that I know were changes that I wanted to happen in my life.
But what makes us actually get off our ass and take action?
Little tiny things. Not big crazy things. But things that you can handle in increments that move your needle forward, towards that life changing tipping point.
There’s that saying I have heard my whole life – I would give credit to the person who said it if I had any idea who – ‘if you want to lose weight, eat less, exercise more’.
If we examine this philosophy as a metaphor – I can deduce that the less calories I eat every day plus exercising to burn off more calories each day – will lead to the net effect of me weighing less.
But if I do this for one day will I see results? No. So I may get frustrated and say this is just not working. Or I could stick with it for a few days, a few weeks, a few months. What do you think would happen if I honestly exercised more and ate less for a few months – my weight would be lower.
The small daily progress is what made the difference over the course of the few months.
Allow yourself to not dive in deep but realize things take time. Pick the one outcome you would like. And sit with it, think on it. Where can you ‘eat less’ and ‘exercise more’ towards your goal of ‘weighing less’?
Using this metaphor let me run through a personal example.
A few years ago when I was really struggling financially, it was an impossible dream to believe that I could go from being $80,000 in debt to having the money I need in the bank and moving to France. That would be a fairytale, something I couldn’t wrap my head around. I would have laughed at myself and further retreated into my self defeating thoughts.
But years before moving to France came that rock bottom moment of being in crushing debt and not wanting to face the problem. The debt was my badge of honor for the ugly money story I had lived my whole life. It allowed me to make excuses and become smaller and smaller and not live my best life, at all.
At the bottom you can only see up. I couldn’t see out but I was forced to look around. I felt like I was in this tiny little space, I had boxed myself into without even recognizing it. This box didn’t allow dreams or retrospection, just denial. I was closed into this box and wasn’t able to see anything else but the present. Work hard, spend because I deserve it, pay out all that hard earned money at the end of the month, rinse, repeat. All the while sinking lower and lower into my strange comfort zone of financial self destruction.
But aha! Yes, remember back to that story from a million years ago when I was 17? ‘I ruin everything’. So I was just living up to my own potential.
The box was tightening around me and I couldn’t see out. I couldn’t see that I was the one that needed to make the change. I was acting life this was happening to me and that I wasn’t in control. I couldn’t see that I had to change, to take the first step, until I actually did.
I started allowing things to permeate my box. I started listening to podcasts, specifically a lot of Dave Ramsey. The repetitive talk about personal finance and hearing other people’s stories opened my eyes. I started making very small shifts, recognizing the total of the debt that I had, creating a budget to see where my money was going and so on and so one. Tiny micro steps.
And then something magical started happening, the walls of my box opened up to this brightness, my vision was expanding and I could see further. It was something like when you hear the hallelujah sound with birds chirping. I started believing that things could change.
Here’s how the metaphor for ‘eat less + exercise more = losing weight’ works for my debt scenario.
First, I recognized that I had thrown my personal finances over a cliff and I wanted to change.
(In this metaphor it would be the same as realizing I wanted to lose weight)
Eat less then meant that I had to start surrounding myself with messaging to help me change my financial story. I had the power to stop this trajectory and get started doing something positive like listen to podcasts, read books and blog posts. Surround myself with possibility.
Exercise more meant that I dug in and did small things like create a budget, cut up my credit cards, list my debt. I accepted the mess and hatched a plan to start paying it down. The dream board I had created years ago could now be dusted off and I could start believing in a brighter future.
Eat less meant that my eyes were finally on the prize. I made every effort I could to learn, earn or pay off the debt.
My ‘losing weight’ or getting out of debt took about 2 years. But the story continued. It wasn’t going to end by just being out of debt. Now that the shifts were happening – it started affecting every aspect of my life. Re-prioritizing and clearly seeing how I wanted my life to unfold.
The little progresses every single day added up to a massive outcome that I never would have imagined possible. I could have given up. I could have not followed through. I could have made excuses. But it became way too important to me.
Breaking out of that little confining box of denial and fear was a catalyst for taking my power back.
These 5 Steps Changed my life!
- What is that one twinkling in the back of your mind? What is the outcome you really want?
- Decide things are going to change on your terms.
- Recognize what your walls are. What is it that is preventing you from getting started?
- What is your ‘eat less’ and ‘exercise more’ shifts? What are small things you can do every single day to move you towards creating the outcome you want?
- Give yourself a date. This time frame can move as it needs to but having a goal helps provide a little fire and helps you be accountable to yourself.
[The 5 ways is a great journal exercise. Take 15-30 minutes of alone time and really ponder these steps and write it all down with your favorite pen, in your lovely handwriting on your favorite paper. It makes all the difference in the world!]
This isn’t going to happen overnight, but it is going to happen. Just keep showing up for yourself! Just keep going. And going. And going.
Just start by taking a tiny miniscule little step in that dream direction.