Once in a while, I need a swift kick in the pants.
There are times I hit a wall, and want to do nothing. Nothing that’s good for me, of course. I find myself spending my time in ways I usually avoid; letting idleness hold me still, allowing overindulgences I’ll regret, and permitting negativity to cloud my view.
When this happens, I’ve often wished someone would notice and shake me silly. Alas, even if my perceived shortcomings are warranted, they likely aren’t apparent to an outsider, and even if they were; most people are tactful enough to not impose unsolicited self-help. And thank God for that.
Time after time, when I’ve found myself in a minor slump, or even a major dump, I’ve learned that the only person I can rely on for a boot to the butt is myself.
Easier said than done? Yea, maybe—but, not really. The start is easy: baby steps, then the momentum starts to flow, and before you know it, you’ve reclaimed your throne on top of the world. If you’ve ever struggled with motivation, and have found that standard inspirational gab leaves you more sullen than before, perhaps you’ll relate to what I’ve pieced together over time.
Six Steps Toward (and out of) Self-Battery
1. Assess your present situation.
What events have contributed to your current state? Are you in the pits due to an isolated event or due to an accumulation of factors? Your approach towards revitalization will differ whether you’re feeling down due to a break-up or seasonal change, or because you live rent-free in your mother’s basement and subside solely off corndogs and banana-flavored milk.
Whatever your situation, you can be sure that your slump is likely a manifestation of an incongruence between your ideals and your reality. Identifying the schism is the first step, and then making small, attainable changes to close the gap is the next.
2. Don’t make goals.
This probably goes against what anyone’s every told you about the road to success, and those people are right. But this is an alternative approach. If glory was attainable simply by making goals, we’d be living in a world where articles entitled “5 Simple Steps to Happiness” wouldn’t go viral, they just wouldn’t exist.
Don’t make goals; make choices. Small choices that cumulatively lead to outcomes reflective of your values and desires. If we make unrealistic goals that are incompatible with our lifestyles, beyond our capabilities, and unreflective of our resources, we position ourselves for inevitable disappointment. When we don’t attain our goals, we see this as a personal failure, rather than a predictable outcome of an impractical wish. And then we beat ourselves up about it—not in a good way.
Instead, if we make small daily choices that contribute to a wider paradigm shift, the incongruence between our realities and ambitions will slowly diminish. As our perspective changes, our aspirations come into focus and become more attainable. At this point, it would even be inaccurate to call them goals—they are simply a natural progression of our current trajectory.
3. Make room for the bad.
Regardless of our individual strengths and weaknesses, and vice and virtues, we all struggle with behavior we try to avoid, but that sometimes gets the best of us. Instead of cutting out all the bad, put it off until after you’ve done the good.
Feel like staying in bed all day with dirty hair, slowly depleting your savings shopping for designer scrunchies while watching back-to-back Frasier episodes and eating almond butter straight from the jar?
Go for it… After you’ve peeled yourself out of bed, made coffee, gone for a walk, and maybe even put baby powder in your hair. Chances are that by the time you’ve done these three things, your mindset has shifted and you’re on your way to donate blood and scrape bubble gum off bus stop benches.
4. Accept contradicting behaviours and tendencies.
Our behaviors are not always accurate reflections of our beliefs and values, yet we often compartmentalize ourselves in absolute terms. The truth is, we are more tangled inside than we have the courage to admit, and by desperately attempting to whole-heartedly adhere to single-dimensional roles we’ve subscribed to—or have been prescribed for us—we inevitably drain our energy, lose touch with our core, and ultimately dishearten ourselves along the way. Do what serves you, when you want, how you want (as long as no one gets hurt, of course).
Wear your great grandmother’s fur coat while walking your rescue dog and contemplating which vegan burgers to make for dinner. If it makes sense to you, that’s what matters.
5. Go for it.
Start and revise later. Churn out the necessary crap, and you’ll be pooping gold bricks in no time. Instead of being hung up on perfection, cast your ego aside and accept that any new endeavors will be humbling and likely initially fruitless. Take advantage of the anonymity your current obscurity provides and use it to experiment and learn from others.
6. Keep the almond butter jar ready.
Expect to hit walls, wallow for a bit, and to kick yourself in the ass once in a while. We naturally transition through periods of ebb and flow, stagnation and growth, doubt and assurance. Being aware of the impermanence of our current state can encourage us to savour the highs and not get bent out of shape about the lows. As the old adage puts it—“this too shall pass.”
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Cat Beekmans
Photo: Flickr, courtesy of Wiros