Y’all…it’s the last quarter of the year. 

In fact, it is the last quarter of this DECADE.

How?

This year absolutely flew by! If you are like most people, you are gearing up for 2020.

A new year and a new DECADE! You are excited for another chance to create goals and resolutions. 

Your vision board is all but completed in your mind. 

The new year brings excitement for most because it feels like a fresh start. Out with the old and in with the new!

What if I told you that this was the exact wrong way to approach your goals.

Many self-help gurus preach affirmations and mantras. Change your mindset and then change your life, they say.

On the surface, it makes sense. We are, in fact, governed by our conscious and unconscious beliefs and attitudes.

However, I firmly believe that if you change your life you will change your mindset.

Before you click away from the screen or thrown your phone down in disgust, let me explain.

In  a previous blog post I talked about the 5-second rule. I learned about this at a time when I felt totally stuck in my life. My life was a beautifully orchestrated mess. 

On the surface I had everything going for me:

  • Loving husband
  • 2 children (boy and a girl)
  • Great community
  • Physician
  • Professor at a medical school

However, deep down, I knew that I was not living up to my full potential.

I was an anxiety-ridden, procrastinating, self-sabotaging MESS. Imagine waking up everyday without a plan, stumbling through the day, not getting anything done, putting out fires from prior episodes of procrastination, and coming home mentally-drained and exhausted from the anxiety and stress. 

This was my day to day existence. 

I spent a lot of time reading affirmations, watching youtube videos on productivity, and trying to change my mindset. 

Why couldn’t I shake the stagnation and overwhelm? 

I just couldn’t put one foot in front of the other in order to move forward. In fact, I couldn’t even figure out what moving forward meant. 

My 36th birthday started out with me crying buckets of tears at my dining room table. I was crying because it was the first birthday without my beautiful mother. But I was also crying out of shame. 

The thoughts that ran through my mind were:  what am I doing with my life? Who am I? Who do I want to be? What is my purpose here on this earth and why am I not fulfilling it?

After praying and crying I turned on youtube to try and quiet my mind. Amy Landino was the first video I saw. Amy was interviewing Mel Robbins, who wrote the book “The Five second Rule”. I wrote an entire blog post about this day and this moment and how it changed my life so I won’t go into it here.

Sufficeth to say that, once I began using the 5-second rule and started getting things done, my confidence grew. With time I changed and transformed into the person that I wanted to be.

That change and transformation was through the DOING.

When you’re about to do something new or something that makes you anxious, your brain will do anything to get you to stop.

Your brain does not want you to do this new scary, anxiety-ridden thing, because our brain wants to protect us.

Think about it: when our ancestors were doing something new or scary (ie leaving the cave to go hunting), their brains knew that getting their heart rate increased and their palms sweaty would slow them down and get them to rethink leaving the cave. Keeping our forefathers in the cave could mean that we avoid being eaten by a lion, a tiger, or a bear. 

However…if your ancestors didn’t overcome those feelings, they would essentially starve to death.

Nowadays, hunting and gathering are not what cause us anxiety. We are anxious when we think about talking to our boss about a promotion or a raise. Our palms sweat profusely right before we upload new content to Instagram. The palpitations arise when our new blog post is about to go live.

The inputs are different, but the fear response remains the same. Your brain is trying to protect you.

So, what do we do?

We shut down. Procrastinate. We make elaborate plans but never actually implement them.

You avoid opening the emails (by “you” I mean ME).

So, how can we overcome this?

The goal is to break down all of the things that you have to do into very small, measurable steps that are less scary and less overwhelming, so that our brain doesn’t shut us down.

Here’s what I mean when I say that mindset doesn’t matter: I can recite 30 affirmations when I sit at my computer to open my emails. Even if I sit down with the best of intentions and feeling super motivated…

My palms are still going to sweat and my heart is still going to race. If I don’t have some way of overcoming that, my brain will get me to do whatever it can to get rid of that anxiety. So, I’ll start:

  1. Scrolling social media
  2. Watching a youtube video
  3. Talking with my coworker for an hour
  4. Etc. etc. etc.

Here’s a better way to deal with that.

I take out my bullet journal and write down the smallest number of emails I can open without anxiety: I usually start with 5, knowing that 3 will likely be junk and 2 will be something that I need to respond to. Five emails doesn’t seem overwhelming.

5…4…3…2…1…GO. 

I then check the 5 emails and check-in with myself. Usually, I think to myself: It wasn’t even that bad, Kim!!! Why have you been avoiding this?!

That check-in moment is what helps my mind overcome the anxiety because…I did it! Five emails dealt with. Now I am breathing easier and I have less palpitations.

Ok…let’s do 5 more!

The next thing I know, all 30 emails have been checked and I am moving on to the next thing.

Here is another example.

I started a facebook group called the #nosnoozecrew. The purpose of the group is to encourage people to keep the first promise that they make to themselves. If you break that first promise to yourself when you get up in the morning, I believe that this has a ripple effect throughout the day. 

Your day starts off in disarray, you are ripping and running, stressed and frazzled.

Furthermore, you’ve just told your brain that you can’t do one task…your brain will now try to “protect” you from doing other potentially “scary” things throughout the day (like checking emails…you see how this is all coming together?)

When this group began, I could have asked them to recite affirmations before they go to bed in order to encourage them to not hit the snooze button.

I’m the master of my morning. I am going to keep my promise to myself. I love myself, and I deserve peace. I am deserving of a great day. I deserve to be productive.

What did I do instead? I had the members set a very small goal: set your alarm for the time that you usually snooze until. When your alarm goes off, say “5…4…3…2…1” and get up.

Small. Measurable. Realistic.

Guess what happened-people stopped snoozing and reported having amazing days! They are now more peaceful, they have energy throughout the day, and they mastering their lives by mastering their mornings.

You may be thinking: “Kim, how does this tie in with scriptures? Is the bible not going to help us reach our goals? It’s basically a book of affirmations.”

I’m SO glad you asked! 

James 2:20 (KJV)  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

This is why I absolutely love the bible. It addresses this notion head on. Read James 2:14-26. In verses 15-17, it essentially says that it is completely irresponsible to tell a brother or sister who is hungry and naked empty affirmations without doing the work to get them what they need to survive. 

Faith without works is dead.

Affirmations without action is useless.

After you start doing the work, absolutely utilize those affirmations to encourage yourself to keep going! Maybe instead of “5…4…3…2…1” you say your favorite affirmation to help get you moving. The one that I have been saying recently is “I am allowed” and then I do the thing that scares me. 

Your affirmations should help propel you into action. 

They should be the metacognitive strategy (link to definition) that you say to move you into action.

Sticky-note affirmations alone aren’t going to cut it.

Try it out! What day to day tasks gives you anxiety? Break it down into extremely small, bite-sized pieces that aren’t as overwhelming. Write down what you will do. If you feel yourself getting stuck or that you are avoiding the task, say “5…4…3…2…1” and just GO. Do the thing. After it is done, reflect and check-in with yourself. I bet you’ll realize that it wasn’t nearly as hard as you thought! This will help motivate you to keep going.

If you are having trouble breaking down your goals or you simply want additional help with this process, email me at contact@productivepurpose.com. I am here for you!

Peace and Love,

Kim