Plus one thing *not* to give up.
Image Credit: mvphotoworx.com / MichaelVirts
In 2011, I felt like my life was a mess. I was going nowhere and seeing the world through a very dark lens. This phase of life had been forgotten, though.
Last week a reader asked me to be on his podcast. I said no because podcasts are not my thing. Instead, I opted to answer a few questions for him. One of those questions was about that dark moment back in 2011.
Writing my answers to his questions brought up all sorts of strange feelings and memories I thought were lost forever. In my answers, he wanted me to dig a little deeper.
And when I did, this list of things I had to give up to survive and make it through to today became abundantly clear. They might help you if you feel like you’re falling behind, going nowhere, or like you’ve had enough.
Give up the Story
Feeling stuck or having enough is a story you tell yourself. The doctor can’t diagnose you with “feeling stuck.” That same doctor can’t take your temperature and send you off for tests and then come back and say “Well, the blood test says you’ve had enough Jane.”
All of this is one giant story. You narrate your life through what you say to yourself in your head. Your thoughts are yours.
I’ve never shared this before so here goes nothing. The story I used to tell myself went like this:
I am tired.
I am sick.
I can’t play any sport which means I am weak.
I have an eating disorder.
Everybody hates me.
I am skinny which means I am ugly.
Elements of this story would repeat in my head daily. I couldn’t hear myself telling this story but I was definitely a part of it.
Until I became the outsider who dared to look in, the story was invisible to me.
How do you give up your limiting story? You write down your thoughts. When you can see your thoughts on paper they look different. They show you who you really are, not who you think you are.
Once you see your story and the lies you’re telling yourself, you have the option to change it. You may not change but at least you will have the chance.
Give up Waiting for the Right Time
The right time is now. Feeling stuck or like you’ve had enough is an urgent problem that needs addressing.
Remember this: there is never a right time to do anything. The only right time is when you feel like you’ve had enough or you want to do something about this situation.
It doesn’t have to be like this forever. I lived with this feeling for the first 26 years of my life. It stopped me from doing so much and living a little of the good life. I wish I’d done something about it sooner.
You don’t have to go through the same torture day after day and call it a life.
It’s the right time to give up waiting for the perfect time.
Give up Drinking
Alcohol is sold to us subliminally through the phrases “work drinks” and “let’s go out on Saturday Night.”
I was a heavy drinker for most of my life. I explained my drinking to myself as “fun.” It wasn’t fun at all. Waking up with a hangover and trying to pretend life didn’t happen solved nothing.
The alcohol was a band-aid for my battered brain.
The problems were still there the next day after an almighty hangover that stole all of the morning, and most of the afternoon.
Drinking isn’t going to help you get to where you want to go.
Drinking will cloud your judgment, destroy your energy levels and harm your health long-term.
Replace “the drink” for a habit that helps you be radically self-aware.
Give up on the Majority of Requests on Your Time
I have been a yes man (thank you mam!) for most of my life.
When people ask for my time, I feel guilty for saying no, so I say yes. For years this robbed me of the time to do anything creative.
You don’t need to say yes to everyone’s requests. You can say no and not be an asshole about it. You don’t even need to provide a valid reason.
It’s okay to have time to live your life and to have the breathing space to think. As I write this I am experiencing extreme overwhelm. All requests of my time in the short-term have been canceled while I recover.
It’s hard to progress or get moving again when you’ve opted into drowning in other people’s requests. Saying no is often necessary and it’s okay.
Give up Your Career Safety Pants
“Four weeks pay.” Remember that is all that separates you from being fired.
They care about you — until a recession changes their minds and they are blinded from seeing your value, by a spreadsheet titled “Job Cuts.”
You think you matter to your employer and you do, but that entitles you to nothing. Tough economic times outweigh a company’s like for you and the work you do.
There is no such thing as a safe career anymore. At some point it pays to think about de-risking your career and dividing your time up between multiple sources of income.
They can cut you and it’s not personal. Last year’s performance review holds very little power. Take a few more risks in your career.
The biggest risk in your career is playing it too safe.
Give up on Notifications
Playing ping pong with your brain is exhausting. You don’t need constant sounds, notifications, alerts and gorgeous red badges.
What appears urgent according to your phone is not so urgent in real life. The email can wait but your life can not.
Give up on the Critics
They can pick apart anything, even an innocent salad sandwich.
You can’t win an argument with a critic. They have a Google link (which is fact) to back up everything they say. Let them have their opinion and learn what you can from it. But trying to argue with them is pointless. There has never been a statue erected for a critic, says composer Jean Sibelius.
Replace the need to be “right” — in front of your critics — for time with your family.
Give up Being Unkind to Yourself
I have tortured myself in my head for years. The F-Bombs and sharp critiques are mind-blowing when I look back.
Talking down to yourself doesn’t serve you.
You know if you’re stuck or feel like you’ve had enough. You’re not stupid and you can move forward. Don’t let the unkindness towards yourself be the blocker to your potential. I am not talking about positive self-talk, either.
Try being more understanding and forgiving towards yourself.
Remind yourself that mistakes happen and you’re doing the best you can.
Give up Destroying Your Confidence
Confidence isn’t the absence of fear. It’s the belief that you’ll be okay despite your fear — Nick Wignall
Discovering that quote recently changed the game for me. I have ripped apart my own confidence for years and it’s because of fear.
The fear of losing my job again or messing up my career haunts me. This quote is a reminder that even if the worst happens, it’s all going to be okay.
Even confident people deal with a lot of fear.
See your fear for what it is and don’t let it stop you from being confident that you can succeed when you do your best.
Give up on Your Short-Term Results
“I only had six people read my blog post. What do I do?” You know we could guess for hours about why your 10th blog post ever didn’t reach a thousand or more people. The truth is we will never know.
Ten shots at anything is not enough. This is short-term thinking.
The typical approach is to track your goals daily, weekly, or monthly. I have given up this approach for the most part. I track my goals in life yearly.
Well, that’s a half-truth. I look at my goals more seriously in five-year chunks. Five years is a good enough amount of time to evaluate your results. It’s enough steps to climb Mt Everest. It’s enough words on the page to write a novel or inspire a small group of people.
One week, one day, one month, doesn’t tell you a lot. You might be looking for results far too soon. And that is making you feel like you are stuck or have had enough of your current situation.
One Thing *Not* to Give Up
We’ve talked a lot about what to give up when you feel like you’ve had enough or feel stuck.
There is one thing to never give up on: yourself. More specifically, the vision you have for your life.
You can do and be anything you want when you don’t give up on yourself. Whatever it is that you think you might do with the time you have left in your life, it’s time to do it.
If you want to write a novel, then do it. If you want to be in the Olympics, then start training. If you want to do something more modest like start a family, then make those babies! If you want to work less, then start investing your time in skills that can pay you while you sleep.
I nearly gave up on myself and succumbed to a life of mental torture. But I decided to make a different decision and back myself, and you can too.
If you feel stuck in life or like you’ve had enough, maybe it’s time to give up what doesn’t serve you or is limiting your potential.