Sometimes, you just want to give up, right?
Run away from it all.
You're working super hard and nothing's working. Nothing's changing. You don't know how you're ever going to make it.
You're losing confidence. You're losing faith. Maybe it's not possible to create an awesome life doing what you love, after all.
I get it. I've felt it all. I still feel it.
But it is worth it.
And you can get through it.
Inspired by a trip to the swimming pool last week (my first swim in years), I'd like to share with you seven very simple but extraordinarily useful principles that have helped me through some of the toughest times.
1. Check out the sexy fit people, but not for too long.
As I wibble-wobbled my way to the side of the pool, I took in the other swimmers. A girl with no wibbly bits whatsoever. Another with golden tanned legs that stretched all the way up to her armpits. And oooh, look at that lady's amazing arm muscles. I wish my arms were like that.
Urgh. Someone find me the nearest brick to tie to my feet.
When you're creating your dream life, it can be motivating to check out those who've been working at it longer than you have. They can give you a glimpse of what's possible and remind you of what you're working towards.
But keep your eyes on them too long (especially in the beginning) and you might end up feeling deflated as you wonder how on earth you're ever going to build the bridge between where you are now and where you want to be.
So by all means, find your heroes and the people you admire and let them add to your motivation, but don't get stuck in the trap of negatively comparing yourself to others.
2. Have a lifeguard or two.
Someone who acts like a lifeguard to you whilst you're on this journey to create the life you want can be the perfect sort of support.
Because lifeguards don't interfere with your swim. They don't worry if your stroke isn't perfect. They don't pass judgement on whether you're pushing yourself hard enough. They just watch calmly from the side, ready to step in if and when you really need them.
3. Stay in lane. Focus. Be the last man standing.
Picture this. It's June 2013. It's ten months since I quit my job and nine months since I started my baby blog. I've been blogging for nine whole months and I have a whopping total of 45 subscribers.
I could have stopped.
I could have told myself it just wasn't working.
I could have given up.
But I loved my blog. So I just kept going. Blog post after blog post I just kept writing. Today this website is at nearly 1,400 subscribers. Still not huge by some standards, but numbers aren't everything and I'm happy that this community has grown organically over time.
The thing is, being good at something is only half the battle. The other half is simply consistency, persistence and determination. Tweet that.
Most people will give up and go home.
You don't have to.
You can separate yourself from everyone else simply by staying in game. Tweet that.
Just keep swimming, as Dory would say.
4. Make time for play.
Even when you're doing work you love, it's still important to make time for different activities.
Leave the intense focus of the lane-swimming for a while and get out into the main pool.
Play with your rubber duck, splash around a little, do some doggy-paddle, pretend to be a shark (one of my favourite swimming games when I was little), drop a coin on the bottom and dive to collect it.
Just have a little fun. Spending all your time in the lanes will wear you out. It will also turn you into a boring, miserable person.
Just remember, no bombing or petting :-)
5. Swim your own race.
I see the fast-lane swimmers out of the corner of my eye. I'm tempted to go faster myself. I want to go as fast as them.
But if I try I know I'll burn myself out. I'm not a fast-lane swimmer yet. I'm building strength and momentum. For now, I'm doing just fine in the middle lane. There's nothing wrong with the middle lane. There's just as much water in this lane. It's just as wide and just as deep.
There will always be others going faster than you. There will always be others reaching milestones before you. It doesn't matter. Your life and business isn't a competition.
Swim your own race and always do your best.
6. Know your goal, but focus on the next step.
I went to the pool with the intention of doing 50 lengths. That's what I always used to do when I was swimming regularly.
As I started the first length, I already felt tired and the number 50 suddenly seemed so far away. But first one length passes, then another and another. Before you know it, you're nearing your goal.
I've seen this happen so many times in my own business.
When I think about where I want to get to I can send myself into overwhelm. The goal is too big and I don't know how I'm going to get there.
In those moments of overwhelm there is only one answer. It's the only thing you ever need to do.
And that's simply to do the next thing.
That means swim the next length.
Run the next lap.
Write the next blog post.
Have the next conversation.
Just keep doing the next most important thing.
7. Live by the wee rule
Around lap 30 I started needing a wee.
By lap 35 I really needed a wee.
And by lap 40 I was desperate.
So I called it quits for the day and had a lovely wee. Ahhh. Not in the pool. I got out and went to the toilet.
When I was working in office jobs I was so stressed out and highly strung that I thought I couldn't even make time to go for a wee.
I would just sit at my desk and keep going and going and totally ignore the pressure building in my bladder. The emails, scheduling, printing, filing and all those other hugely urgent tasks were far more important than tending to my natural bodily functions.
I still get this way sometimes. I forget to slow down. I forget to do what my body is asking me.
So I think this is a really good rule to live by:
If you need a wee and think you don't have time to stop, something's gone wrong. Check back in with your brain and remember that taking a wee is an essential part of your health.
When we're deep in our work or we're working on something important or to a deadline, it's easy to lose perspective and tell ourselves the "I don't have time" story.
It may feel like you don't have time to take care of yourself, but if you don't listen to what your body is trying to tell you, it will eventually scream so loud that it will force you out of action for weeks or months.
Self-care is a priority.
Always make time for a wee when you need one.
Over to you
Blog posts without comments are like swimming pools without water - dry, barren, empty, sad. So please add you voice to the comments below and share:
- Any of your own principles that have helped you that you can share with the community.
- What your biggest challenge is to creating the life you're dreaming of.
- Who is (or who are) you personal lifeguard(s)?
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