A couple of months ago I had nothing specific to look forward to in my life. I was living day by day but not doing anything more than sitting on the couch watching television, eat food, and maybe once a week go to the gym or see friends. My life felt like it was being wasted, to be honest. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew that I didn’t want to keep living like that.
The holiday season was a little bit better because I had Christmas to look forward to, but I still felt as if nothing I did was more than just a quick fix for my life. As soon as Christmas passed, I entered into my funk again. I had no idea what to do with my life, was hating all the snow and cold, and felt like I had no purpose. If you’ve felt that way, you know it’s miserable.
I’ve gone through many funks in my life, and the underlying cause is the exact same in every situation: I had nothing to look forward to or prepare for in my life. Sure, I wasn’t necessarily unhappy, but I also wasn’t happy by any stretch of the imagination. I was just existing each day, nothing more.
What snapped me out of this funk was when I decided I was going to read a book a week each week in 2019. Now I had something to look forward to, now I had something that I could work towards. Instead of clocking out mentally after getting home, I now knew I had to spend my time reading if I wanted to reach my goal. It challenged me, and it sparked a new life.
I recently was able to spend a weekend in Miami to attend the 10X Growth Conference and listen to many very successful entrepreneurs talk about how they are able to achieve such great results and be peak performers constantly. I wanted to learn their secrets, because I knew I wasn’t living up to my potential.
One day, the host, Grant Cardone, got on stage and started to tell the crowd how he is able to be so productive all of the time and stay in his peak performance zone. He attributed this to the fact that he always has something on the horizon. He knows that he always has a new commitment that he needs to be on his A-game for, otherwise it will crash and burn.
That seemed so simple to me, but it is the truth. After hearing that, I examined my life to try and understand why January had felt so much more productive and successful than previous months. I was able to attribute it to the fact that I was now reading one book a week so that I could finish 52 books by the end of 2019, and that I had decided I was going to run a half-marathon in June. I now had specific goals and challenges to drive me forward.
As humans, many of us try to avoid stressful situations as much as possible. We try to avoid leaving our comfort zone and doing the unknown. Yet in order to thrive, we need to embrace stress. Used correctly, stress can produce greater results than we ever could have imagined. We need to continually produce stressful situations for ourselves if we want to grow.
I know that if many of us were given the option between watching a movie or doing yardwork we would usually choose the movie. Doing yardwork sucks. It’s hard, it’s hot, and we sweat all day with the sun beating down on us. But at the end of the day, if we were to look back and think of when we felt the best, we would say it was when we did the yardwork and made the yard look beautiful, because we accomplished something.
Deep down I think all of us feel better when we have accomplished something. Yet we far too often choose avoiding stress in the present over feeling accomplished in the future. I know I have lived my life in a bubble of avoiding stress at all costs for far too long. To feel successful, we need to constantly add challenging events to our calendar. If we ever complete all our challenges we will have failed, because that means there are no pending challenges on the horizon.
For months I had been telling myself I was going to run a half-marathon. Yet I stayed seated on my couch, eating a full bag of chips and watching Shark Tank. It wasn’t until I set a specific date to accomplish my goal that I started training. Now, after only a month of training I have been in the gym longer than I ever was all last year. Because I gave myself a deadline.
Having those goals wasn’t enough, however. At that same conference I realized that my life’s purpose is to talk to others about fear and failure and help them overcome those things. In order to do that, I needed a platform and I needed to be a credible voice. Now, I am starting a podcast with a good friend of mine that we are launching in March about that exact subject. Having something on the horizon is constantly pushing me to act, and to get results.
I am a firm believer that in life, nothing we ever want comes easily. We need to schedule challenges, set specific deadlines, and then we need to go to work. Each one of us needs to always have something on our calendar that makes us nervous. We need to learn how to face fear instead of running in the opposite direction. Schedule intentional challenges in your life and watch yourself succeed in ways you never imagined, by allowing stress to work for you.