So often in life, we feel swept away, lost out at sea with no life raft around to grab onto. We drift on the tide and unwittingly allow the drum beat of every day to keep us marching to a rhythm we never set nor fully jive with. The cadence of the bureaucracy, the consistency of a job and the disconnected, hazy vortex we can easily fall into keep us from reaching milestones and achieving objectives we often only dream about. But lately, I've realized that life really is about what we choose to make it. Ultimately, we have more power than we fully realize or appreciate, and the responsibility is only on us to take ownership of that power and to determine the trajectory we desire to be cruising along.
To me, there are three key approaches that I constantly invoke when I feel out at sea but have a craving for stepping firmly back onto land -- essentially, taking command of my life -- and they apply to so many areas of everyday life. Indubitably, however, there are countless steps to be taken and measures to be employed that can help liberate us from the burdens and shackles we feel are in place and are holding us down, and I hope you'll share with me the ones that work for you in the comments section below.
1. This is an important mantra I think we can all use to jump start our engines: "Stop talking, start doing." Too often, we build up walls in our mind that we associate with menial tasks -- like cleaning out the attic, making a dreaded phone call or confronting a difficult coworker or challenging friend. But if those obstacles are holding us back, stopping us from reaching our full potential or causing us undue stress, then the only remedy is to face them straight on and accept them as they come. Acceptance doesn't mean being resigned to a problem or an occasional holding pattern when we feel we're stagnant -- neither rewinding successful progress nor moving forward in our lives -- but rather how can we change our situation or improve our condition without first acknowledging its existence? Denial, avoidance and procrastination are all symptoms of this behavior, and none of them lead to positive results. But sometimes, the solution is so much easier than we imagine. We need not draw our swords into battle, but instead, simply lean gently into the wind -- finally pressing send on that email to an important executive with a resume attached and a request for consideration for that coveted new job opening enclosed, or writing down our goals so we know which ones to act upon, and then, making a strategy for bringing them to life. If you're confronted by walls in your mind that may feel like barriers, preventing you from getting from Point A to Point B, minimize the intimidation by shrinking the stakes and removing the stress. Do this by taking steps to the end result (accomplishment) that are smaller and more manageable. Then, knock down those walls, and get ready to savor the feeling of pride and relief that awaits you on the other side. Remember, if you need to send a jolt of electricity through your batteries and spur yourself into action, just repeat my motto from time to time, "Stop talking, start doing."
2. Take stock of what you own, and getting a better handle on your life. Do you overspend and regret that compulsory card swipe that caused you to fall short in your checking account at the end of the month? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by that closet that is stuffed to the gills with must-have purchases that cost an arm and a leg when you simply had to have them, but now you feel nothing but guilt and anxiety when you think about it? Have you ever stopped to think about what impetus might be triggering these seemingly involuntary, second-nature habits? I have. Sometimes it's a feeling of inadequacy and a lack of self-worth implanted in some people at a young age or thrust upon them by their environment and surroundings. Other times, it's a desire to keep up with the "Steins," if you will, and put on a show of grandeur for the outside world. But just imagine, for a moment, the sense of relief and lifted weight you'd feel if you freed yourself from this quagmire. Taste, even if for no more than a second, the deep state of peace and tranquility you would have if you calmed the raging tempest inside, reminded yourself of your value, set your sights back on the prize -- achieve your goals, rather than accumulate unnecessary anvils that will only weigh you down along the way -- and instituted a few new habits. That promised land of emancipation isn't awaiting you in the next life or reserved for the select few -- it's firmly within your reach if you just make the choice to let yourself enter it. Sure, it takes dedication, just like a new dietary regime or forcing yourself to go to the gym to do those 40 minutes of cardio, but the results are well worth the wait and commitment. Just like anything else, if you want to take stock of your life and press the reset button to start with a clean slate, there's just one thing you've got to do. Stop talking, start doing.
3. Own your power. For many people, this is the most challenging step but it's certainly the most important. Accepting that everyone from the janitor mopping the halls at the local public school to the high-flying executive sitting in the corner office down the hall has the power to affect change can be arduous for some, but understanding that you, too, have the power is quite possibly the hardest. But when you finally lay down the weapons you've been pointing at yourself all along, and accept that you have it within you to reach for the stars -- and, at the very least, land on the moon and plant your flag in one of its sweeping crevices -- the world will be your oyster, and your objectives will suddenly come within reach.
So how do you do it? I often find that the origin of this process (and, indeed, it is a gradual process) is positive visualization. Envision what you want -- see it, feel it, taste it and appreciate it from a 360-degree perspective. Make it tangible, but make it realistic. Most importantly, make it something that ultimately will bring you satisfaction and make your life feel whole. It could be as simple, yet magical, as a carefree, quintessential holiday table at Christmastime filled with family and friends (and hopefully some delicious food!); or perhaps, it's the birth of that company you've been itching to start somewhere down the line, or still, maybe it's that dream vacation to Paris or Hong Kong you've been dwelling on since junior high. See it, feel it, taste it. Then, make a game plan, carve out a road map and let it happen. The only one who can deposit fuel into your engines and set you on the path to accomplishment is you, so if you have any doubts, as always, just mutter somewhere, sometime, under your breath: "Stop talking, start doing."