In these early weeks of 2023, I am thinking about how to fix my life. Not everything. Or at least not everything at once. But the one or two (possibly three) bad habits that are holding me back. If I want to stop feeling stuck, and stop focusing on the past, I need to become — as Mark Manson puts it — ‘future-obsessed.’ This is a first step in letting go of the things that don’t serve us.
If you are able to think then you are able to make different choices. If you are able to make different choices, you are able to improve. If you are able to improve, with enough time, you are able to overcome anything. – Mark Mason
Change Your Point of View
A perfect place for me to start is with my perspective — how I see the world and myself in it. Despite a lot of good things in my life, and despite what I have accomplished, lately I see myself as broken. Because I keep falling into the comparison trap. Because I struggle (like a lot of people) to do the hard things that can lead to meaningful change. And perhaps worst of all, because I often doubt myself.
Deep down, I know I’m not broken. Not completely. I’m just trying to, still, find my way in the world. To figure out how I can best be of service, and to use my gifts to succeed to that end. I know my service has something to do with words, through the telling of stories. That’s the perspective I must hang on to and truly see and believe. Otherwise, I’m not letting go of the things that done serve us [me].
Letting Go of the Things that Don’t Serve Us
I have a pretty solid morning routine. Typically, my day starts around 3:00 am. I get up, prepare my coffee, journal (Morning Pages), exercise and write before heading to my day job. My focus during that time is unbreakable because I’m good at managing distractions. By the time I get home around 7:00 pm, I want to do more writing, learn more about marketing, create content for social media or read. But when I sit down at my desk, I find myself quickly loading a streaming service and trying to write/learn/read at the same time. Do you want to know how productive that is? Not very. That habit becomes a trigger for my negative self-talk, which has been off the charts lately. Is it any wonder you haven’t learned how to sell more books? Is it any wonder it takes you so goddamn long to finish that first draft? Is it any wonder you can’t lose those 15 pounds…?
As I shift perspective, I see that the problem isn’t about a lack of focus or being tired (although I’d love it to be because the blame would fall somewhere else and not on me). The problem is — has always been — the choices I’ve made and continue to make. The result? Habits that I, involuntarily or not, not only created but allowed to become entrenched.
It Comes Down to Small Changes
Let me introduce you to my friend Mel Robbins. If you haven’t heard of her, and you want to make meaningful change in your life, you need to check out her books and her podcast, The Mel Robbins Podcast. Through her personal experience, Mel will motivate and guide you, by offering advice backed by scientific research, to create a better life.
And when you’re trying to stop doing something (like I am with my evening routine), Mel’s advice cuts through the crap and lays it all bare: “If you are trying to stop doing something — like drinking or eating dairy or lying in bed wasting time on your phone — get the damn thing out of your face.”
So, I’m using even stricter parameters to block all streaming services on my devices. It’s the only way for me to get them out of my face so I can do the necessary work. And I’m working to put systems in place that help me stay on course.
Letting go of the things that don’t serve us isn’t easy. But if we don’t try, we’ll never know who we could become or just how much we could impact the world.
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