Instead, find out who you want to be.
I know how you feel.
Waking up every morning, wading through a fog of existential bleakness only to emerge, bleary-eyed, into a chaos-ridden world that daily questions your essence.
You start each day with honest intentions. You are committed to becoming that person who, you think, will finally make you feel proud of yourself. Yet, each night finds you worn out with the effort and no less closer to that elusive goal.
You’re doing it all, you argue. The guided meditations, the morning routines, the 5k training, the TED talks, the meetup events… everything.
You’re straining each seam of your being to its maximum resilience yet you remain, disappointingly (to yourself), just plain, old — you.
What will it take, you implore to the universe, to morph into that person you long to be? The one who is a beacon of productivity, the one who radiates inner peace or the one who runs a six-figure business (and a five-member family), maintains a beautiful, Pinterest-y home, volunteers every weekend, and ziplines in the Amazonian rainforest?
Why can’t I be that person, you ask. Why can’t I be successful, smart, fit, healthy, beautiful, philanthropic and adventurous?
Because… you’re asking the wrong question.
You should be asking not “Why can’t I be like her?”, but “Who do I really want to be?”.
It’s not your fault. It’s the way you are receiving messages from the outside world — uninterrupted, contextless and with zero filters. So, when you see that self-help bestseller about becoming more confident or read that article about developing a productive morning routine, you simply walk towards it, shiny-eyed and full of hope. You don’t pause to think whether it’s relevant to your current situation, or something you are even interested in. You buy the promise, glossy packaging and all.
It’s no wonder, then, that you end up bewildered and lost, unsure of where you went wrong. And worse, you berate yourself every step of the way, convinced that your own mediocrity is preventing you from achieving greatness.
So, you slowly give it all up. Forget the morning routine, grab that third cup of coffee. Give up the yoga class, it interferes with your daily schedule. No more meditation, you weren’t good at it anyway.
The truth is, we can’t commit to something unless we identify it as the path we want to take to get where we want to be. You cannot stick to early morning wake-ups not because you’re lazy, but because you manage to be productive without waking up early. You lose interest in that self-help book because you cannot identify how it can change your specific situation. And, before you know it, you’re back to feeling like an underachiver.
You need to believe in something to successful commit to a pursuit that interests you. You need to believe that it will lead you somewhere you truly want to be. Because unless you have that clarity, I am almost a hundred percent sure that, sooner or later, you will give it up.
Belief is a very powerful thing.
I stayed off gluten, caffeine, dairy, sugar, refined carbs and alcohol for almost four years because I was struggling to conceive and doctors told me chronic inflammation was the culprit. I believed that giving up these ‘offenders’ would enable my body to nurture and sustain a healthy pregnancy. So I gave them all up.
It was hard. Gluten-free options were limited (and often tasted like cardboard) at the time. I couldn’t have pizza, ice-cream, chocolate or a glass of wine. But, I persevered because I believed this was the path to my eventual goal.
The day my daughter was born, I introduced it all back in.
Since then, I’ve tried many times to alter my diet by eschewing meat, or avoiding gluten for example because I continue to deal with chronic inflammation. But I simply cannot sustain it.The earlier motivation is gone, the goal I had set out to achieve has been achieved. My potentially improved health has not yet served as incentive enough to warrant that level of abstinence.
Essentially, I no longer believe.
And, if you’re struggling to understand why your efforts are not leading you to your intended goals, you don’t believe either.
So do it now.
Find out what you believe in. Ask yourself what your life goals are. What kind of person do you want to be? A healthier one? A more spiritual one? One who values a work-life balance? Or one who radiates confidence, no matter what life throws at you?
Take time to think about your goals. And once you feel you have some answers, identify the paths to get there. Pick, choose and modify. Customize things to suit your unique personality.
Know this — because you follow a different path to your destination does not make your choice any less valid, or inspiring. It only means you have the smarts to figure out what really works for you.
If you can’t wake up early, it doesn’t mean you cannot be productive; you’re just not a morning person. You can’t meditate the traditional way; perhaps listening to music is your mediation. You don’t run or go for yoga everyday; maybe twice a week is more than enough for you.
Because you do it differently, it does not mean it’s not impactful enough.
So worry less about all that you are not doing. Instead, slow down and focus on what you really want to do.
Go from there.