A few Sundays ago I tried some acting for the first time. Just reading scripts in a small setting with a few people, maybe about 15-20 of us. I have zero acting experience and have never read a script in my life. Everyone else there was a director, producer, writer, actor, or had some other experience in the field.
I was sure I was going to ruin this for everyone else there. Here comes the new guy with no experience f*cking it up for everyone. I was so nervous sitting in my group of four with an experienced director in front of us explaining how he wanted the scene to play out. I’m pretty certain a little dabble of pee came out of me and trickled down my leg that’s how scared I was.
I was so afraid I was going to mess up my lines, do it all wrong, and just screw up the entire night not only for myself but for everyone that was involved.
All these negative thoughts almost kept me from participating. I was ready to leave, even had it all planned out. I could say I needed to go to the bathroom and just bolt for the door, never to return again. I could save myself the embarrassment of having to GET STARTED with something new.
It was the perfect plan. I was so overwhelmed by my thoughts that one of the best experience of my life could have never taken place.
WHAT EXACTLY IS BEING OVERWHELMED?
I have a confession to make, I’m pro at making myself feel overwhelmed. I like to say yes to everything and put as many things on my “To-Do” list as possible.
Right now I’m working on:
- The Limitless Fitness Program
- Limitless University
- Writing for Lifehack
- Writing and Coaching for the Ultimate Paleo Guide
- Starting a Freelance business
- Taking a course on improving my skills as an entrepreneur
- Online health and wellness coaching with Limitless365
- Personal training
- The Ultimate Recycling Project (non-profit)
This is not to boast about how busy I am because as you and I both know we tend to create the busy in our lives to make us feel more important. Trying to find balance and sanity has seemed nearly impossible the last few months. Workouts, eating right, fun, leisure, personal relationships, and pursuits of skills I’d like to acquire have been put on the back burner.
Essentially I just feel overwhelmed.
Feeling overwhelmed is rooted in an underlying belief that you can’t handle something. It’s when we believe our coping skills are not sufficient to deal with whatever stressors come our way. It typically manifests itself as an emotion such as anxiety, worry, doubt, anger, hopelessness, or irritability. Which then leads to a behavior or action.
Feeling overwhelmed doesn’t just have to do with the task at hand or a specific goal you are trying to achieve like starting an exercise routine, eating a healthier diet, or starting your own business. It also encompasses everything surrounding it.
- Your big to do list
- Your personal relationships
- Your finances
- Your career
- Big life events like buying a house, starting school, having a baby, or starting your first “big boy or big girl job.”
- Your sleep
- Your diet
- Your time
- Your FUN (and I ain’t talk’n bout the band 😀 )
You may really, really, like REALLY want to get health for example but when you start to think of all the other stuff going on in your life it just seems like too much… So what happens?
Everything just feels uncontrollable and way to unpredictable to get started. Life seems to have this snack of throwing stuff at you when you least want it.
But there’s good news. Feeling overwhelmed is a mindset and a belief therefore it is completely changeable, you just need proof. And like finding out Santa wasn’t real when you were ten (ooops, did I just let the cat out of the bag) I’m going to give you some so that you can make getting started much easier.
WHY WE GET OVERWHELMED & WHY IT KEEPS US FROM STARTING
It typically has a lot to do with a huge gap between our values and our actions. You probably have felt this before, where you know what to do, the right thing to do, what you have to do, even what you want to do, but for some reason you’re just not doing it. For whatever reason you just haven’t been able to get started.
One way you might try and justify it is by convincing yourself that it’s just not the right time. otherwise known as “perfect time syndrome.”
You’ll get started when:
- You make more money
- Find another job
- First lose 20 lbs
- When you’re not so busy
- When you get more experience
- When you don’t have SO much to do
- When your relatives or friends are not visiting
- After school settles down
There always seems to be something doesn’t there? Some excuse we can always go back to in order to justify not getting started.
(cough) (cough) guilty as charged (cough).
One way I have fallen for “perfect time syndrome” throughout my life is with my personal relationships. I’ve never been able to fully invest or even start a loving relationship with someone because it has never been “the right time.” There’s always something with me, too much work or projects I’m committed to, the idea that I need to have a certain amount of income coming in, or that I’m just to busy with personal interests.
I was sitting down discussing why getting started in relationships was so difficult for me with one of my roommates and his girlfriend the other night and they chimed in with their own experiences for not getting started in other areas of their lives.
- To avoid embarrassment
- The hard work that it will take
- Opening up to criticism
- The risks involved
- Not having enough knowledge or experience
- The commitment required
- Disappointment in the self and disappointing others by not following through
- So much to do when getting started
- Not wanting to feel pain (studies show emotional pain hurts just as bad if not worse then physical)
- Focusing on the negative (so far to go, never be able to finish, will I have to do this FOREVER, it’s going to hurt, it’s going to be too hard.)
When you think about it like this it’s easy to see why it’s so difficult to get started sometimes. You get overwhelmed by your thoughts, it’s just much easier to keep the status quo. It’s comfortable, it’s safe, it’s clean and tiddy and no one gets hurt.
Steve Pressfield the author of one of my favorite books (I’m pretty sure I reference every few posts) “The War of Art” tells us that we tend to make not getting started or resistance to getting started a personal event.
This little voice gets churning in your head telling you you’re not good enough, you suck, you don’t have enough willpower, you don’t know what to do, you’ll never be able to accomplish this. It attacks your identity, who you are as a person, it chips away at your self-respect, at your self-discipline. This voices “PROVES” that you’re not good enough.
Steve mentions that it starts with your exterior:
- Your lack of muscle
- Your weight
- Your looks
- Your ethnicity
- The way your hair sits
- The bags under your eyes
The voice looks for any physical flaw so that it can start to break you down, to make you weak, and once it’s done breaking down your exterior it moves on to what’s inside. The voice tries to attack your heart, your mind, your spirit, your will, your soul.
Once this occurs self sabotage happens. As Susan Nolen Hoeksema puts it:
You begin to roll decisions over and over in your head, you start to question you motives and the motives of others, you rehash the past, you being to analyze all your moods, you think about thinking, and you try to control everything.
Failure to get started has turned into a personal attack on yourself when in reality it is something that we all go through. A universal truth that we all can relate to. The voice in your head is the same one in mine and it’s the same one in your neighbors, and it’s the same one that was in Walt Disneys, Michael Jordans, and Diana Nyads.
IT’S OK TO BE WRONG
Mistakes are just missed-takes. They’re opportunities for you to learn and grow, to retry, reset, and redo based on the experience you just had. Besides, mistakes actually make you more likeable.
“…Don’t worry about tripping and falling in front of your boyfriend; doing so will only make him like you more. Go ahead and admit your failures to your friends; your humanness will endear yourself to them.
These mistakes attract charm as a result of the Pratfall Effect: Those who never make mistakes are perceived as less likeable than those who commit the occasional faux pas. Messing up draws people closer to you, makes you more human. Perfection creates distance and an unattractive air of invincibility. Those of us with flaws win out every time…” –Lifehacker
Perfectionism is a major culprit when it comes to getting started. You can’t make a mistake, you have to be 100%, not a single M&M on your diet, not one missed day on your workout, no mistakes, none, nadda.
Perfectionism leads to procrastinationism or even worse, doing nothing at all. Besides, perfection is subjective anyway. The perfect piece of art, musical score, success, the perfect body. All just a matter of opinion.
Super perfectionists are even afraid to practice because the idea of practice gives the impression that there will be mistakes made. However, when getting started on anything new and unfamiliar this is exactly what you’re doing; you’re practicing.
It’s pretty tough to jump all in with something new and to not mess it up. You have to learn from those mistakes.
You parents out there rewind a bit. Were you the “perfect parent” right away? Probably not, but I bet you got infinitely better as time went on, if you had more kids, and as you learned from your mistakes.
You have to embrace practice. Yeah Allen Iverson, “I’m talking about practice” in order to get better.
Unfortunately it’s not as easy as it seems. As a kid and all throughout school we’re conditioned to simply get the right answers as opposed to learning and understanding underlying concepts. How can you get form point A to B as fast and painless as possible.
This stays with us as we get older and instead of really trying to understand why we’re doing what we’re doing we just get wrapped up in getting to the end result. The process gets lost in the shuffle as we try to rush to the finish.
Enjoy the journey and the mistakes along the way and build resilience as you go.
Resilience to me is being able to get back up when you’re knocked down and to possibly come back stronger. The sheer power to recover from adversity. Every adversity you come across builds a callous. It’s like laboring in the yard all day with a shovel, working out in the gym with a barbell or on pull-ups, or wearing a new pair of heels. You’ve got to get used to it.
A callus is for the most part harmless. It’s sole purpose is to protect you from future wear and tear. Although they’re harmless they can also be quite annoying. Especially when you have some alone time with a certain lady-friend (or man-friend) You know what I’m saying… just trying to keep it PG.
So, the big question. Can you practice resilience without having to deal with a bunch of calluses?
Recommended reading: Do things happen for a reason? Building resilience to life’s biggest hiccups.
WHAT TO DO WHAT TO DO?
Decide whether the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying. -Amelia Earhart
So how to you actually get started?
Start with just one step: You don’t have to be 100% Paleo, Vegan, or whatever nutritional approach you’re taking from day one. Concentrate on one thing at a time. Maybe the first week you can just focus on eliminating liquid calories and drinking water, unsweetened tea, and black coffee. When I first started working with my main man Ami the only thing he did the first week of training was replacing the 2-3 mixed drinks he was having most nights with one glass of wine.
A gentlemen I am working with right now lost fifteen pounds in his first two weeks simply by exercising ten minutes every day for fourteen days.
Matt avoided ah-f*ck it syndrome. He couldn’t run at first so he simply just walked and look at where he is today. Instead of talking yourself out of getting started because you can’t do a push-up do wall push-up, to brook-stick presses overhead, just do something.
Take responsibility: One of the biggest excuses running around these days is “I don’t have time.” To me this just means not a priority. I know this may be a little harsh to some but more often than not it’s true. Take a look at how you’re spending your time. Facebook, watching TV, checking email incessantly, twiddling your thumbs? Maybe you can do laundry once per week as opposed to two. Brainstorm a bit, how can you manage your priorities so that your health, your relationships, or whatever else it is you’d like to improve on take prescidence?
Remember if you really want to achieve something you can’t operate on “found time.” You have to make time.
Be a slinky and build momentum: In her book The Progress Principle, Teresa Amabile discusses how we actually just want to see progress towards our goals and the actual achievement of them is often less rewarding. Small wins that we can experience each day release dopamine in our brains which helps to stimulate the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
Measure your progress by taking before and after photos, using the scale, are your pants fitting a little looser, how’s your mood, are you taking measurements? If your goals are not health related what are some ways you can measure your progress? How can you create tiny wins each day to keep you motivated?
Make doing the right things easier: Performing a kitchen makeover before starting a new nutrition plan will make choosing healthier foods much easier. If the junks not there you can’t eat it right?
Be a little nieve: Anything is possible. There are far to many examples of people doing unbelievable and extraordinary (some would even say impossible) things. This is why kids are so good at avoiding being overwhelmed. They think anything is possible.
Nothing is final: You’re allowed to revise, edit, and revisit any decisions you have ever made or are going to make. Nothing is permanent.
Time trying is not time wasted: Not trying at all is the only way to waste time.
Faith: Have a little would ya? You probably put it in so many things right now that have much more severe consequence. How about putting a little in yourself?
Eat an elephant and do a brain dump: Make a list of everything that scares you or keeps you from getting started. Circle one of those items and attack it. Nothing else, just that one damn thing. Here’s an elephant to help you with that process.
Create a new identity: You’re no longer the old you. You’re now someone capable, strong, and willing to get started.
To sum it up you don’t need to be perfect or have all the answers. All you need to do is take one step forward. What is one small step you can take today that gets you one step closer to your goals?