It happens to everyone at some point (yes, everyone, I don’t care who you are). You get in a rut, or you get frustrated, or you are lacking your usual confidence, you’ve run into a hardship, or you get stuck in whatever other negative emotion. I don’t mean these things in light form, as in you just feel that way for a few hours one day. I mean, you are in a rut. A real rut.
When getting out of your rut seems hopeless, what can you do?
Do something hard.
I knew a woman one time that had gained a lot of weight and had sunk into a depression because of it. When she told her therapist about her frustrations, he said “You have two choices. Do something about it, or shut up about it.” Ok, maybe that wasn’t his exact phrasing, but that was the message. The light bulb lit up over her head and she decided to do something about it. She started dieting and working out, right? No. Well she did start watching what she ate and working out, but she did something else that most people wouldn’t have thought of. She joined Toastmasters. (In case you aren’t familiar with Toastmasters, it’s an amazing organization structured around training people to be public speakers.)
Ummm, what does Toastmasters have to do with weight?
Good question. It has nothing to do with weight. But here is what happened. The woman, being petrified of public speaking, pushed through the rigorous program despite being miserable and embarrassed through the whole thing. Eventually she not only graduated the beginner course, but she was voted the best speaker in the group! Take a guess as to what this did for this woman’s confidence. It went through the roof! She was still working on her weight in the gym and progressing well there, but what really pulled her out of the depression was her knowing that she just did something extremely difficult and succeeded.
Nothing gives confidence more than knowing you are capable of achievement.
How do you accomplish something difficult?
- Decide on something you have always wanted to accomplish but for whatever reason didn’t believe you could. Remember, “difficult” means different things to different people. Choose something that will make you feel accomplished, not anyone else.
- Figure out what you will have to do to achieve your goal. What are the steps that you need to take? Know them well and even write them down in checklist form if you need to.
- Forget about your goal and just follow your steps. One by one. Tackling something difficult is much less intimidating if you don’t think about the big picture. No matter how uncomfortable or stressful each step may be, just keep trucking. Don’t look at the big picture, don’t worry about whether you will succeed or not, just conquer the current step. Then you will make it to the next step. Before you know it, you will have just accomplished something huge.
- Say goodbye to your rut!
What kinds of things might be good “hard things” to do?
- Going on a vacation by yourself
- Run a 5K
- Go through a stand-up comedy class (the woman in the example above ended up doing this!)
- Approach a stranger and give him/her a random compliment
- Take a pole-dancing class
- Learn a new language
- Go scuba diving
- Take a tough college class or get certified in something
- Anything else you can come up with!
Whatever thing you decide to do, it’s going to be miserable for a while. Don’t think it won’t. That is part of the challenge. Take it slow, do it step-by-step, and just keep pushing. You will get to the end before you know it and have a whole new confidence in yourself you never thought imaginable.
What difficult things have you tried to accomplish and succeeded?