More than anything, I am reminded about how easy it is to live in default mode. For me, that mode is primarily reactive, but easily justified to friends and family. It can sound like I'm still making good decisions, but there's a fallacy there. It typically doesn't represent conscious choices. Instead, it's an agreement to stay with the herd and follow the rules. It's almost completely fueled by fear of some sort. The scariest part is that it was so hard for me to recognize that I was living this way. Two weeks ago, it hit me. The feeling had been brewing for months or even years, but April 12 was different. It was as if I woke up with a new pair of glasses and could see clearly for the first time. I started a journey, without knowing how it would end. I made some progress, and then I stumbled. I failed at my first attempt and had 500+ miles of driving to reflect. I'm proud to say that I won the mental battle this time. And I think I'm stronger for it. I completed the one thing that I hadn't been able to do for myself, despite years of positive intent and hundreds of hours of thought and effort. I had to ask, "What made the difference this time?" Two things . . .
About two weeks ago, I called myself out. I realized I'd been living scared and mapped out a plan to get past it. I set a deadline for yesterday at 2:00pm, and I told people I'd pay them to hold me accountable. 16 people took me up on the offer. I just sent out $160 in payments, and it didn't feel good at all. It also doesn't feel good to miss a deadline, no matter the story. In case you're wondering, here's what happened.
One of the best books I've read lately is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It was absolutely brilliant. Today, he released a flowchart that sums up a significant section of the book. I wanted to share that with you and provide a bit more information about my latest project.
I've been restarting myself a lot lately. First came the pruning last summer. Then the grind of winter, and a decision to start again in mid-January. Then a declaration of my personal new year on March 1 after a horrendous February. And finally a realization last week that I'd been living scared. My writings here are a clear reflection of how my life is going. Essentially, I'd work furiously for a while (usually two weeks to a month) and then burn out for an equal period of time. I decided that wasn't healthy and spent the last six weeks figuring out an alternative. In seeking another option, I reviewed my annual plan, my book notes, my time logs, and my binder of inspirational articles. The answer was in front of me all along.
I can't explain it, but I can feel it. There's a tremendous resistance when I try to make progress in certain directions. For several weeks, I was even aware enough to identify it, but it still blocked my progress. And then on Thursday, I awoke to a thunderous crack in that wall of resistance.
Today, I woke up. Thirty minutes before my alarm would have gone off at 5:20, I sat straight up in bed. I had instant clarity. I've been living scared, and it's cost me. Some of you may be surprised at that statement. I can fake it pretty well. Since I was 21, I've called myself an entrepreneur. I've started and owned over a dozen businesses. Some quite successful, some so-so, and several flops. And now I know exactly why: fear.