When I woke up on January 1st, 2019, it was the flattest I ever recall feeling emotional. I couldn’t muster one positive thought about the upcoming year. I felt terrible about myself and – after a lot of journaling – concluded that I had lost my self-respect. But it was a long list of traits and bad habits that put me at an all-time low. They had joined the list sporadically over a period of years.
I’ve been a weak-arsed doormat
I’ve been unhappy with my marriage for over six years
Erica (my wife) is too critical, short, and abrasive with me
I’ve been too scared to do what I really want
I’m physically weak and I don’t push myself
I’m not very fit and don’t eat enough veggies
I’m not a very patient father and am easily irritated with Izzy and Cal (my children)
I’ve done a TERRIBLE job of saving money for 18 years and have virtually nothing saved for the future
I do not work hard anymore – I’ve got lazy and unfocused
I’ve lacked drive and purpose for 8 years
I’m still buying the bullshit my mother taught me about limiting beliefs – that nobody supports me, I’m not good enough and I don’t deserve it
I am not the role model to my children that I want to be
I virtually never take bold action
I am seldom present
I’m intimidated by too many people
I’m too serious
I don’t relax
I have reflux
I am a porn addict
I have tendonitis
I listen to my egoic mind too much
I’ve not listened to my heart, my soul, or my passion for years
I am a people pleaser who is afraid of confrontation
I seldom express my feelings with my children except for anger and impatience
I have wasted so much time not being true to myself
I’ve always been waiting to be rescued
I’ve settled for chump change
Not surprisingly as I look back at this list now, it was the culmination of a long decline for me. I’d experienced some great professional success 6-9 years prior after many years of hard, hard, work, but then I’d hit a wall of burnout and intense frustration. What really pushed me over the edge was feeling like a failure. I’d spent the previous few years speaking on multiple continents about my great referral process but was internally conflicted because so many of the people I coached did not get the results they (or I) wanted, and I did not know how to help them.
I didn’t understand why. I didn’t know how to help beyond coaching on my referral system and trying to ‘motivate’ them (which doesn’t last). I was great when the sun was shining and I knew how to move a client forward who followed through on their action plans. But I was scared when clients hit obstacles because I didn’t know what they should do. I felt like a fraud even though my system did work phenomenally well for some people.
Gradually I lost my drive and became overwhelmed by the challenges of parenting for the first time (twins at the age of 46) and trying to juggle marriage and running my business as well. These stressors then put intense pressure on my already-existing flaws and unresolved issues from the past which spiraled into being unable to root out the causes of my misery, to get traction when I did find potential solutions, and climb out of my self-induced hole.
Also on reflection, I think I took other people’s lack of results too personally. I couldn’t do the push-ups for them, but I felt impotent not having useful strategies to get people into action and out of their own way. That explains why I am so passionate about it now. I had to learn it myself the hard way.
WHAT TO DO:
1. Look in the mirror and be honest about your current imperfect reality
I tell this humbling, difficult story to say that before diving into change – and while it may be extremely hard – find out what your current imperfect reality is. How much do you weigh and know about your blood pressure? On a scale of 1-10 how would you really rate the key relationships in your life? What are the facts about your business today? How clear are you about your personal finances?
Some of this is likely confronting – after all, everyone has flaws and problems.
Sometimes resisting or denying these issues is half the problem and once you know the facts, you can slowly start to do something about it instead of putting your head in the sand. It’s why many spiritual texts endorse the concept of ‘accepting what is’ as the best place to start.
If you want to go deeper and tap into greater sources of fuel, here are two powerful exercises to consider.
2. This one helped Tony Robbins turn his life around. Take a large piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Then make a list.
On the left, write down a list of Things That Are No Longer Acceptable
On the right-hand side, write a list of Things I Must Change
3. If you’re willing to dig deep, answer these questions that I found helpful three years ago from David Goggin’s book Can’t Hurt Me:
a) What are the most painful and humiliating experiences you have had?
b) What kind of BS (sewage) did you deal with growing up (or in the past x years)?
c) What are the current factors limiting your growth and success?
d) Were you so secure you never pushed yourself?
e) Is someone standing in your way? Are you standing in your own way?
There are many ways to source fuel so you stay in your race long enough for a breakthrough. Goggins’ questions are great for sourcing past PAIN. They helped me better see that much of my past pain came from a childhood of being criticized by deeply flawed people and, sadly, believing them – and how irrational that was. It reinforced that I needed to stop giving those people power.
When you’re in a real funk, you take your motivation wherever you can find it. Ultimately, just having rage at the world as your only source of fuel is unhealthy. In future weeks I will highlight more positive ways to develop fuel/drive.
For now, be clear about where you are so you can craft small steps to move forward and stay in action. This is totally within your control.
It gets cheerier after this!
Founder & President
Matt Anderson International
1177 Oak Ridge Drive, Glencoe, IL 60022, USA
Phone: +001 (312) 622-3121