It was about 4 months ago, and I was in my closed coaching community for Best of You. The group is comprised of 80+ women who are driven, passionate, smart and in every way the opposite of the VC (“victim culture”). In short, they are an absolute joy to work with.
But on this particular day, I was noticing that the energy in the group was a little down. Just frustrated at how much engagement (or lack of) they were getting on social media, or overwhelm at technological issues with their websites and email autoresponders and a general feeling of WHY IS THIS SO FREAKING HARD.
I think we have all felt this way at times, and we are justified in expressing our confusion, frustration and overwhelm every once in a while. Especially if the reason for doing so is to find a solution. And let’s face it, if we are venting without being open to solutions or doing something to solve it, we’re VC. It’s just complaining.
Anyway, I get it.
But here was the coaching message of the day: you got into this because you said it’s what you have a burning desire to create. You wanted to do this because you know so many people need your help, guidance and solutions. You got into this because you said you are passionate about this message and creating this lifestyle.
And those things don’t come without some obstacles. Tough will always be a part of the journey. And my girls get that.
But what I think sometimes gets confused is tough versus miserable.
If you are sticking out something that’s tough, you are a resilient, driven and resourceful person. If you are sticking something out that is just plain miserable and you keep doing it out of some misplaced duty or obligation or “because you said you would,” that is something completely different.
So check in with yourself. Chances are that if you are doing something that is miserable, or you find yourself wanting to give up at the smallest sign of inconvenience, chances are it’s not a focus problem, but a passion problem.
Here are 6 ways to get more focused and actually enjoy yourself on the journey:
1) Relax your timeline.
Gary Vaynerchuk said it best, “If you want to do something for the rest of your life, you don’t give up after 4 months.” The idea that any pursuit is going to be linear, predictable, easy and that there is some kind of ready-made formula you can just slot yourself into and get guaranteed results in a specific amount of time is just absurd.
Starting a new fitness regimen, starting a new blog or business, starting a new relationship, building anything worth working hard for—we actually don’t know if it will take 30 days or 30 years. We can’t fully know, and that triggers our control tendencies.
But what we do know is first step is. We just have to do that. Once we do, the next step will appear. We don’t have to see all the angles in order to act. And when we see that we really actually do have plenty of time to get everything done, the urgency of needing all the results right now falls away.
2) Expect to fail.
The mindset of someone who is ready to fail is called, surprise surprise, “failure expectation.”
There are two kinds of people: 1) those who crumble at the first sign of struggle and throw in the towel because it’s all too much, and 2) those who expect that shit will be tough. These people know that you don’t achieve anything worthwhile without obstacles. And they come to expect them.
When you ready your mind for the inevitable struggle, you’re able to approach your tough times with objectivity and without making it mean you suck or shouldn’t be doing it. When missteps show up, you see it as just a natural part of the process and you quickly get clinical and then get busy implementing a solution.
3) Stop giving your mental energy to shit that doesn’t matter.
When I was getting started a competitor and then later as a diet coach, I was obsessed with the details. I put all nutritional decisions on the same level of importance, and then just expected that myself or my clients would be able to implement all those tiny little things at once and without issue.
Wrong. Not all decisions carry the same weight, and those who are the most successful in any endeavor get discerning real quick. They don’t get caught up in the nuance and the small considerations. They realize that trying to do 20 things perfectly is setting themselves up to waste time and eventually fail. So they get square with the handful of items that move the dial.
Eating healthy? Get in your protein and veggies. I don’t care if you have to put butter on your greens to get the down or marinade on your chicken. For 99% of people, the mental energy it takes to worry about all those small considerations is what causes them to be unsuccessful in the long run.
Starting a blog or business? Don’t get on Periscope. Don’t worry about if your website is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. Literally just start writing some stuff. People don’t hire you based on how often you tweet. They hire you based on a connection and level of trust. And if you are not writing (or creating content in some other way, e.g. videos, podcasts, etc.) consistently, then how can people who may want to connect with you do so? You have to TELL PEOPLE who you are, what you stand for and then share your struggles and successes. I don’t care if you are on Pinterest. Add that shit later. For now, get the basics down. Write for your audience in the places it matters: your blog, your email subscribers and your Facebook business page. If you don’t have those 3 things happening regularly, don’t stress about YouTube.
4) Quit managing other people’s perception of you.
Aaaaah, the biggest obstacle to #GSD: the second-guessing of how we are going to be perceived by others. We all suffer from this, and it’s especially tough at the beginning of your journey because you have very few wins yet, and the Peanut Gallery is both intrigued and waiting to see what you’ll do. Your friends and family don’t get it, or they think it’s weird or unrealistic or just another one of your crazy ideas. I understand, it’s hard to be out in front.
But those who have success in any big endeavor have stopped playing to the lowest common denominator and have quit being afraid of what people—who actually have nothing to do with it—are saying and thinking. Because you are creating a new audience of people who do care. Write for them. Show up for them. Be unapologetically authentic for them.
Trying to control what others think of you is impossible. But confidence is undeniable. Show up with conviction and watch what happens.
5) Learn to find enjoyment in the process.
You’re doing this because you said you wanted it, remember? So how on earth can you create something you love by doing shit you hate?
When I started JillFit in 2010, I didn’t sit down and vow to begrudgingly write 500 blogs because I was hoping that by the time they were written, I’d have a specific level of success. I literally sat down daily and wrote because I had a desire to share my voice in the online space. I was ecstatic if even one person showed up to read it and told me it helped them. My writing sucked. My grammar was messed up (still not the greatest, ha!). Typos everywhere. I ended every line with a smiley face! Haha! :) Whatever. I pressed publish because I couldn’t not.
This is where passion comes in. And it may be something you have to harness daily.
One productivity tool I use when I am feeling tired or uninspired is this: what are people STILL doing that is pissing me off? I know it’s the most evolved response, but when I think about my desire to create, it’s desire born out of how many injustices I still see out there: I see women who hate their bodies. I see gals whose entire day is dictated by the scale. I see people asking the most time-wasting questions about nutrition. I see women being obsessed with every morsel of food that passes their lips. I see women who have a message that needs to be heard second-guessing themselves because they don’t feel good enough? Almost every single Best of You application I read last week said something about not feeling confident (when asked their biggest struggle).
My honest assessment is: that’s all fucking unacceptable.
And that’s why I work. It’s an internal drive to create solutions I truly feel that if I didn’t provide, people would keep struggles. Yes, I know that sounds egotistical as hell, but it’s the truth, and it’s the reason I get up in the morning—to take advantage of this space.
Inaction is not a focus problem, it’s a passion problem. It’s a congruency problem.
Write from the heart. Show up authentically. Let people see the real you. It won’t be everyone’s jam, but that’s fine because right now, your nondoing is nobody’s jam.
6) Always realize you can go back to the old way. You never have to do anything.
This is probably the #1 way I get motivated to take action—I always give myself a mental out. Seems counterintuitive, right? But if I find myself complaining or talking about how shit is hard and poor me, I ask, “But what would the alternative be?”
The alternative to not do something will always be there. I can always change my mind, go back to the old way, say #jkjkjk and revert. No issue. But I know deep down that’s not what I really want. I want the struggle. I want the journey. I want the tough stuff. Because when I attack those parts of the process, I always end up winning, or at the very least, learning.
So when you find yourself struggling, ask: would I rather NOT be doing this? And I think you’ll find that you don’t want to go back (of course if you do that’s totally fine, it’s what most people do). Use your struggle as a mental check-in for your passion and purpose. Are you still on the course, even though it doesn’t look like what you thought it would? Great, that means the only way to move is forward. Find the workaround. Dig your heels in.
Besides, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that the old way will always be there.
The key is remembering that no matter what, you always have a choice. And when you make once, own it. Check in with your level of misery versus passion. Tough stuff is inevitable. But your attitude is everything.
Some tweetables for you: