I know what it’s like to feel stuck. When I was in a deep rut and felt like I needed to change my life, like so many people do, I read books, took courses, and listened to podcasts to try and change things. But no matter what I did, when I looked at my life it was still the same old, same old. Even if the books, courses, and podcasts helped me temporarily feel better about the BS in my life, most of it still sat there untouched, anchoring me to the life I always had.
Somewhere along the line, it hit me: I had the life I was willing to put up with. I really was my own worst enemy, and I was also the only one who could change things. I realized I had to change my own story and take action. Today.
That realization and the significant changes I made in my life led me to write Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life, so I could help others come to the same life-upending realization that I had. I’ve spent a lot of time—both in writing the book and in my work as a personal-development coach—looking for ways for people, real people (like you), to interrupt the stagnation of their lives and realize their potential. By potential, I mean that somewhere inside yourself you know there’s something else you could be doing or have dreamt of doing. Yet somehow, for one reason or another, you haven’t managed to displace your circumstances and make meaningful change.
Just as I realized that I had the life I was willing to put up with, at some point you need to come to terms with and learn to cohabit with your oldest arch-nemesis: You. I’m not saying slay the dragon; I’m saying you have to learn to live with that bastard while living a life of accomplishment, happiness, and peace of mind.
It’s not your sh*tty past or your lack of confidence, it’s not your crummy boss or even that ever-diminishing, whispery glow of self-esteem. Relationship problems? Check. Money crisis? Check. Body issues? Check. Family broken? Check. The list goes on and on.
What keeps all of this in place? You. It’s not what you see in your life that has you stopped, but rather how you see it. Ever noticed that? How we each see our problems has a massive impact on where, why, how, and if we react to those problems. But if you look closer you’ll see that what you’re really up-to-your-freaking-eyeballs-addicted to is the conversation you have with yourself about the important matters of your life.
OK, so you know that you’re the thing standing in your way, and you’re also the key to your own success, but now what? Well, it takes an interruption, a conscious intervention with yourself. How does one do that? You interrupt the language of your life and follow through with actions.
Let me paint a picture for you. Let’s say you’re done with your job. I mean done, like done done. You’re ready to find a new one. However, you are gripped by the usual doubt and subterfuge that keeps one foot firmly nailed to the floor of mediocrity and settling for the life you have.
“I can’t do it.”
“I can’t deal with the stress of finding a new job.”
“I’m not qualified or don’t have the experience.”
“It’s my boss that I can’t stand. Hopefully she’ll leave, and then it’ll get better.”
On and on and on, the narrative cuts through your promise to find a new job like a dark sickle of resignation, undermining and killing off what’s possible before it even gets a chance to breathe. The words that undercut your resolve play on a loop in your head. Sometimes you say them to others, but mostly you’re toiling in your own headspace while reading or working out or doing the dishes or on the daily trail to work. It’s sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, but always there, humming away in the background of your mind.
Language matters. What you can do in life is completely shaped by what you have already determined you cannot do.
In order to interrupt your life, you must first get yourself clear about the kind of language you use now to shape your circumstances. Every “try,” “should,” “could,” “want,” and “will” is a dream killer. This is about now.
Draw a linguistic line in the sand with bold assertions like “I am willing” or “I embrace the uncertainty,” and start taking the actions of someone who will take that step or someone who accepts the uncertain and acts anyway. Not feeling it? Fine. Who cares? It’s not about feeling it, it’s about saying it, practicing it, acting on it, and discovering your greatness along the way. You see, your reality is a product of language and action moving back and forth in a dance against a backdrop of uncertainty and promise. The only thing holding you back is you.
In the case of the job search I described above, this means shifting your internal dialogue to say, “I am willing to take an online course to gain skills that will qualify me for a new job.” Or “I embrace the uncertainty of applying for a job that I might not get.” Or even “I am relentless, and I’ll apply for three jobs a week until I finally get what I want.”
Make a promise to yourself; have your actions match. Keep making promises, and notice the desire to bend or break the promises to yourself. Pay attention to how readily you’ll give up or pause your life because you say something is too hard, too complicated, or too inconvenient. Notice all of that and then take the action that you told yourself you would take. Those doubts might always be there in the back of your mind, but if you work at it enough you can live with that background dialog and take action anyway. Think of this as a muscle that you need to build that enables you to deliver on the kind of language that really makes a difference in your life.
Every new action you take today begins to fill your life with the kinds of things you are really after. Words and actions together are what start to make the changes you need.
The reality is, your success in life is almost entirely tied to the degree to which you can keep your promises to yourself. Love, money, health, family, and accomplishment are all a function of you confronting yourself in life’s everyday moments and stepping boldly into the uncertainty of what’s next, all flowing from bold use of language and dealing with yourself in the moment.
Think of it this way: You could just keep doing what you’re doing, you know, like you have no say, or you could start declaring who you are and what your life is about and taking the kind of unprecedented actions that move you down that path.
Remember, the only thing stopping you is you.