Insert Brain Here
“Your life will suck”
by Tomas Laboutka
You won’t live forever. That is, unless you are a vampire of some sort.
Yet most of us power through life as though we do. We will, start exercising & eating healthy, go on that epic trip to South America, quit the “so-so job”… and become an astronaut. Later.
Your brain is stupid
A few years back, I looked into the mirror and the picture wasn’t pretty. I was stuck in an unhappy relationship going nowhere, in a job where I was using max. 20% of my potential and I definitely wasn’t the fittest guy out there. Although I knew it sucked, my brain was telling me: “It’s ok, stay comfy. You can do better, later”.
Time is running
If you honestly ask yourself “Who did you want to be as a kid?”, what do you respond? And who did you really become? And what about that special place, you always wanted to travel? Have you been there yet?
Since my first year at university, I have wanted to go to Asia. I tried to find my way there with exchange programs and later with my business. But I’ve never really tried hard enough. Why should I? I knew I could always do it later, right?
Guess what, your time is literally running by. The clock is ticking with no mercy and I see it now as clearly as you do: That “later” might never come. Your life is over and then you die.
1) Take a deep breath
So let’s be smarter than our comfort-craving brains. Let’s lock yourself up for a moment and be honest: “Why do you do, what you do?” What is the purpose of your life? If you are not clear on this fundamental question, you are set to fail.
Once you know “why?”, get clear on what is it that you want to do and who do you want to be. Surely, there are many ways to wrap your head around this. One of the intriguing ways is to think about your life from the perspective of a deathbed as described by Bronnie Ware’s book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”.
Probably the most practical approach I found is to consider the important areas of your life and then specify and prioritize, what it means to be successful in all of these. This can be anything from professional to physical or spiritual aspects of your life. It can involve relationships or your finances… Many take a shot at this, Tony Robins is one of those that break it down in a fairly simple way.
I defined five areas that build up who I am — Scholar, Entrepreneur, Leader, Fit and Human. These five pillars are built on my curiosity and gratitude, desire to achieve the most of my potential on all levels and to help others to fulfill their dreams. I know what it takes to do on daily basis and what it means to become ultimately successful in these.
Additionally, due to my taking this perspective a few years back, I understood clearly that I want to get the most from my life right now. I understood that being fit, for example, is a cornerstone to my happiness. I also saw that the business opportunities in Asia are matching my potential really well, so I decided to follow them. Not next year, not next month, not later… now!
2) Take a small step
Getting started is not easy and you can get overwhelmed by all the things you want to do. The mountain can be a little too high for you to climb and your brain can kick in with the old “can do it later” comfy song. Outsmart your brain by taking small steps. Just do something for a few moments. Go for a fast run around the block. Research for your dream job just for couple of minutes a day. Open lonely planet for a moment. With every single step like this, you will start rewriting the old comfy patterns and slowly but surely your brain starts accepting these as your new status quo.
Make it easy for yourself. If you want to start exercising, set up all the equipment ready to go first thing in the morning. Remove all the other options and distractions. Deciding to do what you want to do should be the easiest thing imaginable. You can just slip in those trainers and hit the gym.
I find that leaving many reminders (like post-its, wallpapers on your screens) and the right triggers around you really helps stay on the right track. When I was starting with my morning work-out routine, I had a repeated alarm set everyday with no mercy. It should be a simple logic for you “if — then”. Remove any alternative, this has to be (if not the only, then surely) the easiest choice.
Don’t overkill it with the initial commitments though, take just a few steps at time. If you have not exercised much and now you want to lose 10kg and lift 100kg on a benchpress within 2 weeks and at the same time to plan your shift of career and to learn Spanish.. Well that migh just be a little too much. And failing to hit your overambitious targets will kill your motivation. Just get yourself moving and then show up.
Most importantly, see the big picture. Keep reminding yourself why are you doing it and who do you want to become through this practice.
3) And now it really sucks. Smile.
Brace yourself, because here comes the tricky part: It will suck. And it will be scary. Even if at the beginning things will be surprisingly interesting and easy, at some point it will suck. Yes, the gym on the 9th floor around the corner of my condo is just the same every day. The novelty and initial excitement of your goals will wear off. You will get frustrated, tired and bored. Your peers will think you are a bit weird and your parents will disapprove of your choices. Your brain will march back with a triumph, slapping you on both cheeks with how you wrong you were. At this point, you might as well want to quit. And having been there many, many times I can tell you — this really sucks.
Now comes the good news: It is at this very point that — you and I — we’ve hit the jackpot. It’s in these moments, when you will get a lot closer to living the life you want to live. It’s at this now, when you really want to suck it up and push for it. As Muhammad Ali says “start counting it when it hurts”.
Knowing this, you might as well enjoy it! Your disgruntled face is hardly going to change your state for the better. In fact looking at your angry face in the gym’s mirror is likely to make things rather worse. So why not decide to smile, smile at the pain, the frustration and the discomfort. Smile at your brain, and power through. I found that if you stick to one thing for about 3 weeks, no matter what you chose to pursue, it will become a part of you. You will become who you want to be. So enjoy it, keep on practicing, keep on pushing and you will get there.
So the time is really running out, but no worries, you can help Lady Luck a little.
1. Take a deep breath
2. Take a small step
3. And now it really sucks. Smile.
Congratulations, you just unlocked the vampire secret: “Life will suck.” But if you suck it up, it can be pretty awesome. And maybe you can even live forever, just like Keanu Reeves.
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