Here are my top 5 tips to keep you on track to accomplishing your goals and defeating the fear of uncertainty.
I've always wanted to_________. This time I’m going to_________. This year I’m going to_________.
I’m going to, I'm going to, I'm going to and then...nothing happens. Today becomes tomorrow, this year becomes next year and before you know it, this lifetime becomes next lifetime. Maybe now more than ever we are experiencing this during our coronavirus lockdowns. We got handed a bunch of time, we set a million goals that "we always wanted the time to do" and then before you know it, it's 6 weeks in and you have done none of it. The intention is there but we don’t know how to take the first step. We become overwhelmed before we even start. And the more we think about it, the more we become paralyzed by fear from all the “what ifs” (which are always all the things that will go wrong, never all the things that will go right…but we will talk about that in a bit). We have all been there, and some of us will spend our whole lives in this cycle.
So how do you break free? How do you finally put the pedal to the metal and get your ass in gear? Or as my Dad would say "Jen...in this life you either shit or get off the pot". But how?
Let me start by saying I am by no means an expert. No one is for that matter. I am simply a girl who's actively participating in this game of life and I intend to keep it that way. My feeling is that I'm here, and so I might as well make the most of it (sorry to disappoint if you are looking for the flowers and rainbows version). I know that things will always shift and change and my practice is to just stay flexible enough - mentally and physically - to be able to go with the flow of being in a constant state of learning. And so as of now, here are my top 5 practices that keep me on point and thriving in this total shit show called life:
1. Make lists.
Keep notebooks of ideas, journal, whatever floats your boat but you’ve got to start by writing it down. All of your ideas even the ones that feel silly, write them down! Your hopes, your dreams, your goals, your visions, get them all down where you can see them. Not only will it help you to get really clear on what you truly want but it will help you to craft the road map of where and how to start. You can immediately start tackling the things that you can do today that will help get you to where you want to be tomorrow or in a year from now. I have notes and notebooks everywhere filled with my scribbled down ideas and goals. I carry some with me so I can look at them daily and stay on track. When I doubt myself (a daily occurrence) or when I feel overwhelmed (also typically a daily occurrence) they become my reminders as to why I’m doing what I’m doing. As the going gets tough (which it will), it's all too easy to let fear sneak in, take over and before you know it you’ve given up. Get clear about your goals, write them down and look at them daily to stay on track.
2. Move your ass.
Literally. That fear I mentioned, that uncertainty, that doubt. We store that negative energy in our bodies. It builds up and it constricts us. It prohibits us from thinking clearly and making smart decisions. Movement is one of the best ways to release that stored, stale energy. Keeping your body strong and flexible is the gateway into keeping your mind strong and flexible.
Now this next part is important so listen up…Find something that you enjoy doing so you will stick with it and maybe even look forward to doing it. Then set realistic goals of how to get that movement into your day. I have been teaching fitness for over 20 years and I can’t tell you how many people I have seen start an exercise routine with expectations that are totally unrealistic and within a month (usually less) they quit. Start small if this is something new for you. Be sure to do something that you enjoy and then set aside a realistic amount of time for yourself each day to enjoy it. Walk (that’s mine), run, bike, swim, hike, surf, dance, whatever…just move your ass and move it daily!
3. Start incorporating the F bomb (or any curse word of your liking for that matter) into your daily vocabulary.
Think I’m kidding? Most of what keeps us from accomplishing our goals is a buildup of stress. Well guess what, scientific studies have show that swearing relieves stress. Not only that, but it also dulls the sensation of pain, fosters camaraderie among peers and is linked to traits like verbal fluency (hello smarty pants), openness and honesty. According to Neil Burton, a psychiatrist based in Oxford England, “the health benefits of swearing include increased circulation, elevated endorphins and an overall sense of calm, control and well being”. Remember that buildup of negative stored energy I mentioned earlier? Well cursing is another way to let that shit go. So go ahead and cultivate that tool (along with an abundance of kindness of course). Get out there and just say fuck it!
4. Understand Negativity Bias.
This was a total game changer for me! To put it simply, we as humans are hardwired to focus on the negative rather than on the positive. We pay more attention to negative events than positive ones, and we tend to make decisions based on negative information more than positive information. Scientists have named this the negativity bias. The negativity bias is a primitive response rooted in the survival instinct. To understand how it was once absolutely necessary we have to take it back to the caveman. For early man being constantly on the lookout for dangerous threats and bad situations rather than the beautiful landscape was literally a matter of life or death. Who could stop and smell the roses when a saber-toothed tiger could be lingering and ready to pounce? Well my friends, for most of us I think it is safe to say that this once very important survival skill no longer serves us very well. In fact it can downright get in the way of you pursuing your goals. Rather than focusing on all that you can gain if you keep up the hard work and perseverance (all that stuff you wrote down in step 1), we as humans are more likely to focus on all that we could lose on the way to achieving that goal. The good news is that you can rewire your brain! In fact just by understanding and becoming conscience of the negativity bias puts you at an advantage over all those negative thoughts and fears. When you catch yourself heading down that dark road of horrible “what ifs” you can stop and recognize that it is just negativity bias again - a useless, build in feature that you came with and you can tell your brain to go stick it where the sun don’t shine (also great practice for getting those swear words in).
But if you really want to get serious about the business of rewiring your brain then continue right on to tip #5.
If you are digging my vibe so far and you decide to stick around for more, you are going to hear this advice a lot. Meditate. It will totally rock your world. It will rewire your brain. It will help you to be way less stressed so you can get way more done. It will turn up the volume on your intuition (that gut feeling) and it will put your creativity right at your fingertips. Bottom line, meditation you can totally transform your life. But here’s the kicker…you have to actually do it. Oh yes that’s right folks, talking about meditation, thinking about meditating that doesn’t actually do anything. You’ve got to get real disciplined about sitting down daily and actually doing to work. But the good news is that the work is easy! I would not lead you down a road to fail by suggesting that you attempt some monastic form of meditation. There will be no “clearing of the mind” happening here. You need a technique that applies to busy people with even busier minds – like us. I practice Vedic meditation and it has completely transformed my life. So much so that I now teach it so that others can have the same transformation. If you are interested in learning with me you can shoot me a message or look out for group classes that I lead. If you already have a technique or a teacher that you love that’s great news! Call them up, learn and most importantly practice. Make the decision to practice everyday and then stay relentlessly disciplined about it. Meditation is the answer!
I hope you found something in this little list that you can start doing today to get you closer to realizing your dreams, believing in your potential and getting excited rather than fearful about the bumpy road to achieving them!
Got something to add? I’d love to hear! What do you do to keep yourself motivated and on track?