Courage Is A Muscle – Ch 1, Part 2: “Change Takes Time”

It’s not enough to simply drop old habits: you have to replace them with something. That something is a new frame of mind, the “Go!” mindset. It’s the most uncomfortable mindset you can have, at least at first, because you’re committing yourself even when you’re unsure if you’ll succeed.

I remember when I decided I would start getting up earlier to get a jumpstart on the day. To do that I had to train myself to go to bed at a certain time, set my alarm clock, and force myself out of bed when the alarm so stridently informed me that it was 5 a.m. Needless to say, the transition wasn’t an easy one. The first few days I hit the snooze button enough times for a whole infomercial to come and go before I actually got up. By then I’d easily be heading into a 6 a.m. or later start.

Sometimes I didn’t even hear my alarm go off, and when I finally arose I felt incredibly disappointed that I’d stood myself up yet again. It was like putting myself through boot camp and I had to be my own instructor – the Major Payne version, the one that yells, curses you out, and calls you ugly names when you fail to complete a task. I had to bring attention to where I was falling short so I could get it right. The new way of doing things didn’t sink in the next day either. It took repeated attempts at going through these new steps and only over days and weeks did things get easier.

Now I don’t have to be nudged by an alarm clock to get my butt out of bed. Sometimes I’m awake before that, and I know that it’s definitely the training and perseverance that gave rise to this new habit.

You have to want to change. You’re putting your mind, body, and spirit through this new routine because you so desperately want to renew yourself. But so often you’re about to throw in the towel because those old habits have been formed over the course of your life and now you are shocking your system and training yourself to do something entirely new.

Don’t despair. The pain is temporary!

Training takes time and preparation, and much of the time it’s lonely, strenuous work done in the corner of a musty gym. Worse, however, is the fact that we have to sever our ties to our old self, cutting out old habits and making choices that we’re not comfortable with.

Luckily there are a few things you can do to stay on track, to say“Go!” with renewed vigor each and every time your alarm tells you it’s five in the morning.

Action Plan

“Go!” means doing. You’ll never know what you’re capable of achieving if you don’t start the preparation and training phase, since without the attempt there can be no progress toward personal and entrepreneurial goals. You have to activate your thoughts by getting physical and taking action, even if it’s just making a list. Which is where we start.

Planning is crucial: you have to know what you’re aiming for. So Go! out and act on it by creating some goals. When you commit your goals to paper, you are designing a map to help you reach your ultimate destination. If everything stays in your head, there is no course of action to bring it to fruition.

1. Make a list of your goals for the day, week, and month, and see how they fit into your long-term plans. As you create your list, include action steps alongside the bigger goals to help you to complete them.

2. Keep an eye on your list and update it constantly. Adjust, remove, or add to the list as needed. The most important thing is to keep it current to help you monitor your progress.

3. Allocate time to work on your list. Don’t write up a list of goals and tasks only to stuff them in a notebook somewhere. Carve out chunks of time throughout the day or week to work on the list, just as you would do so with a list of tasks given to you by a supervisor on a job.

4. Focus on you. If you’ll go at your own pace and move away from trying to keep up with others, you allow yourself the space to tap into your creativity. And if you stay focused on you, chances are you’ll be less likely to be completely influenced by someone else’s thoughts or ideas.

5. Take breaks. Work on giving yourself some space as you work on your project. Taking a breather and stepping away from work will help you clear your mind – like emptying the trash and browser cache on your computer – to make decisions and visualize better. Go do something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be an all-day event. Read a few pages of a book you like, grab an ice cream cone, or take a brisk stroll in the park. The goal is to not focus on the work at hand and to allow yourself some time to recharge before you hop back in.

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