I’ve got the fool-proof way to finish what you start.
It has worked for me, every time.
It’s pretty simple.
It’s just not…easy.
It’s this: If you really want to finish what you start, tell the truth about your life.
“I want to start meditating daily, but I just don’t have the motivation.”
“Every time I start exercising regularly, I do it for awhile and then I just quit.”
“I keep buying self-help stuff and then I never use it. I never finish e-courses.”
Mmmmk. Got it.
Now: start telling the truth about your life.
What’s it costing you not to…meditate? Exercise? Buy shit you never use or finish?
What would you gain if you did…meditate? Exercise? Buy shit that you truly utilize and finish?
It’s not discipline
I’m a runner, the sport most people equate with masochism. I love running, but I hate running (paradoxically). I hate it because it’s hard, but that’s why I love it, too.
How is it that I can find the so-called “discipline” to run?
It’s not actually discipline.
Pretty simple: I think of what it’ll cost me not to run. I think of how I’ll feel like crap, or how I’ll be annoyed with myself later, for not running.
I think of what I would gain if I did run. I think of how I’ll feel great afterwards, because I always do.
That’s how I finish what I start. That’s how I stick with it.
I tell the truth about my life.
Or–Quitting gluten and dairy. “Oh, that’s so hard,” people say to me, all of the time.
Sure, there were challenging moments. But–what was it costing me to eat them? I was sick. Eating gluten and dairy was making me sicker. All I had to do to remember that was have a few bites. Within an hour, I’d feel it.
What did I gain from not eating them? Energy. More vitality. More ease.
I gained my life.
That was the truth. All I need to do whenever I’m tempted to eat something that will make me sick is–tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.
When we tell the truth, it’s really hard–damned near impossible–to take whatever action would perpetuate the lie. The lie, in this case is: “It doesn’t really matter whether or not I choose the action that I know is best for me.”
Start telling the truth, and you are already staring down that lie.
You don’t have to be perfect.
I don’t absolutely finish everything that I start, of course.
Any time the answer to either of those questions–What will it cost me if I don’t do it? or What will I gain if I do do it? is met with the answer “Nothing,” I pay attention to that.
Those are things that aren’t worth finishing.
But the things that are worth finishing to you? You already know what they are. They’re probably more important things than starting some exercise program in the new year. They’re probably things like…
- Practice more compassion.
- Get reconnected with myself.
- Stop fighting that same fight with my partner.
- Quit saying “yes” to more commitments when I’m already so overwhelmed.
People wonder how it is that they can have the best of intentions to change their lives, and then nothing changes.
This is it–again, very simple, just not easy: start telling the truth about your life.
Tell the truth about what it will cost you to quit.
Tell the truth about what it will give you to stick with it.
It won’t be perfect. You will have slip-ups. Tell the truth about those, too. (“I slipped up because…” “It wouldn’t do me any good to beat myself up over this, because…”).
Congratulations. You are now on the way to real, effective, and long-lasting life change.
Jealousy is often regarded as a petty emotion, the sort of thing that only less-evolved types feel, or perhaps as the domain of losers who like to complain more than they like to take action.
Sure, we all know those people. We’ve all been those people, at some point or another.
But jealousy, pissed off or whiny as she may sound, has something important to say:
“Look over here, at this thing that you want to do, but are not allowing yourself to do.”
When I was three, when people asked what I wanted to do when I grew up: I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. I was declaring this before I could even write letters.
When I was in middle-school, I wanted to write books for girls my age: Sleepover Friends, The Babysitters Club, things like that–then Sweet Valley High.
In my 20s, in graduate school for creative writing, I wanted to write literary fiction.
Would you believe that the deep desire now that I’m in my 30s and have been running a personal development website for a few years, has been to write a book?
So I have written books–two books in the past two years, in fact, and tricked them out with videos and more.
And–that’s a lot.
But, but, but–
Jealousy keeps popping up and letting me know that my long-held dream of a print book, an actual bound book that you can hold in your hands, is where I’ve always been oriented.
This basically means that any time someone talks about a book proposal, Jealousy gets seriously stirred up.
The Truth About Jealousy
Jealousy is incredibly helpful. Jealousy is clarifying. Jealousy points a fat magnifying glass on what you truly want.
Jealousy does not always need to indicate that you wish less for someone else. When I hear about anyone else’s book proposals, I don’t go to a place of wishing they weren’t writing them or hoping they don’t succeed.
Jealousy simply gets honest: I want that for myself.
I don’t get jealous over things like being a high-profile doctor. Nothing appeals to me about having a thriving practice as a masseuse. A few times a year, I am hit by a whim to learn how to cook like Alice Waters, but it’s just an idea–certainly not jealousy.
But people who inherit large sums of money, who are fluent in Italian, who never get running injuries (yo, Dean Karnazes), who own Mini-Coopers, or who publish books in print?
Y’all make me jealous, in the very best possible way.
Listen to your jealousy. It feels uncomfortable, but it’s trying to point you to where you deeply, deeply desire to go. The only reason it’s uncomfortable, is because it really (really) wants to get your attention.
I thought that everyone should know: I got married to my long-time sweetie. It seems like the kind of thing that someone who lives some of their life online, might tell people.
It was a gorgeous ceremony, held in a park out in wine country, California, and post “now pronounce you parnters in life” bit, we danced back out the aisle to Michael Franti. Then we went to Peet’s in our wedding gear because I knew I needed some caffeine to make it through the reception, and because we are just that fucking nuts:
(Photography by: Michael B. Woolsey).
It was a truly beautiful day, and I don’t know how the Universe sent me this gorgeous Italian man who rocks the soccer field as eagerly as he does a yoga mat, who gives me, his lucky wife, so much great web design, and who is, generally speaking, the most amazing partner I could have dreamed up–but somehow, I did get this lucky, and I’m grateful for it, every day.