Whiners, complainers and those that refuse to take full responsibility for their lives are three of my least favorite people groups! Their incessant blame is like a non-stop needle being slowly scratched across a record. We all know them. They’re easy to spot. They will begin unloading their troubles on you the minute you accidentally step within their ever so wide bubble. Like a Dyson on steroids, they will swiftly suck you into their vortex as they drone on and on about how unfair life is.
And if you’re not careful, you will unknowingly sign up for their club! They thrive on new members and love to methodically drag you down into their pit of misery. If we’re being honest, I suspect both you and I have been in their club at least a few times in our lives. The key is not to become a permanent and lifelong member.
Life happens. We all go through tough times. Chances are you are currently 1) headed into a storm 2) in a storm or 3) just got out of a storm. Not to be bleak, but if you are looking for a trouble-free life, you are deceiving yourself. Count on it. There will be trouble.
So now that I’ve worked you into a deep depression by telling you about the boatloads of trouble headed your way, how do you successfully navigate the murky waters ahead? The first thing that comes to my mind is simply to “SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP”! We’ve all heard this phrase, but what does it really mean?
Here are some steps to the fine art of Sucking It Up:
- OWN IT! Stop and take an assessment of the mess you’re in. Divorce? Bankruptcy? Bad report from the doctor? Fired from your job? What role did you play in the current storm you are in? Accept responsibility for your predicament. 100% responsibility. Acknowledge the error of your ways. This is the first and maybe the most important step in getting through your struggle. And yes, I know that bad things sometime happen to good people through no fault of their own (killed by drunk driver, kids getting cancer, etc). But ultimately, you must own the circumstances or condition you are currently in. Wishing it didn’t exist or burying your head in the sand will only compound the struggle.
- DECIDE! Carefully weigh your options. What will you do differently to get a new and better result? Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Find a mentor. Ask the opinion of those you respect. Put all of your options on the table. And then…DECIDE. Don’t wish. Don’t hope. Don’t procrastinate. Make a firm decision and then commit to that decision. This changes your internal dialogue from “I want to” to “I WILL”. Deciding will free your mind of the myriad of options and give you a narrow path to focus on.
- TAKE ACTION! Making a firm decision must lead straight to action. Otherwise, all of your “Owning It” and “Decisions” are in vain. As Peter Marshall once said, “Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned”. I have definitely been guilty of over-planning and under-doing from time to time. Planning is much easier than doing the hard work of taking action. Ultimately, action is what separates the winners from the losers and the dreamers from the doers. What if the Apollo 11 crew had only made great plans to fly to and land on the moon but never took action and actually left earth? What if Thomas Edison had only strategized about harnessing electricity to invent the first incandescent light bulb, but never acted on those plans? You get the point. We must take massive action even when we don’t yet have the entire plan.
- LEARN FROM IT! Once you have owned your mistake, made a firm decision to correct the mistake and taken action, it’s time to learn from the experience. What are the takeaways? How can you prevent the same mistake again? Does your plan of action address the root cause of the issue? What lessons learned can be applied to other areas of your life? Take some time to write your findings in your journal.
- LET IT GO! After you’ve done the hard work in steps 1-4, the final step is simply to “let it go”. Don’t beat yourself up over your mistake(s). We are all imperfect humans and we are going to make some bad decisions and wrong turns. But now it’s time to move forward and focus your full energy and attention on the task at hand and not on the mistakes of the past.
So, the next time you find yourself mired neck deep in a swirling endless cesspool of poo-poo, just remember to “SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP”!
Life is a grind. Then you die. The end.
Does it ever feel like that to you? Yeah, me too. If we’re not careful we can allow our lives to become mind numbingly monotonous as we simply grind out one day after the next. Wake up. Work. Go to bed. Rinse and repeat.
In the fast paced society we live in, it becomes very easy to get caught up on life’s treadmill with tigers and lions nipping relentlessly at our heels! One day fades obliviously into the next until we look up and it’s Sunday night and time to start all over again.
“Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12 NIV
So how do we ensure we are experiencing joy filled and meaningful “Days” instead of living out a zombie horror movie and stumbling around in a “Daze”?
Here are a few ideas you might want to experiment with:
- Have a “Big Why”: Finding your “Big Why” is the first step to climbing out of the haze of the daily grind and into your purpose. Your “Big Why” or your purpose should absolutely rip you out of bed in the morning. It will fuel your tank with energy all day long and when the going gets tough it will keep you from putting it on auto-pilot. It’s your reason for being and why you were created.
- Number Your Days: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12 NIV. Life is brief and it’s a wise person that takes into account this brevity and works to make each and every day count. The life expectancy for men is 27,740 days and 29,565 days for women. I am 52 which according to the charts, means I have about 8760 days left. I intend to make every one of them count!
- Be Fully Present: This is the micro version of “Number Your Days”. Quick quiz. How much of each 24 hour day are you fully alive and present? Are you just going through motions or are you 100% engaged and focused during your waking hours? Are you eyeball to eyeball with your young children providing them your full attention when they ask you the same question for the zillionth time? How about your spouse or co-workers? No “phoning it in” allowed.
- Get Some Peeps: Everyone needs a community or a tribe to belong to. My wife and I have 3 other couples that we “do life” with. Every Sunday night we get together at one of our homes, share a meal together, and spend time enjoying each other’s company. When I’m hurting, this is the group I turn to. When I’m coasting through life, they are the ones that encourage me to get back on track – or even provide a swift kick in the butt if that’s what is needed. When I have a victory to celebrate, they are there to congratulate me and celebrate with me. No man (or woman) is an island. We were created for relationships. If you don’t have peeps, get some.
You were not placed on this earth by chance and you certainly weren’t placed here to stumble through life in a daze. Find your people, learn your purpose and commit to being present and alive throughout the rest of your life.
Can Do or Can’t Do?
When you are faced with a huge challenge, what is your initial reaction? Do you immediately shrink back and look at all of the reasons “it can’t be done”? Or do you take a long cleansing breath, dig deep within your resolve, and look for all the ways “it CAN be done”?
Obviously the two examples above are polar opposites and most of us probably fall somewhere between the two extremes. Recently, my wife presented me with a fairly big challenge in the area of our finances. More specifically, she rolled out the dreaded “B” word. That’s right…Budget.
I don’t like budgets and I immediately began to object and list all of the reasons her budget simply would not work. After a hearty back and forth exchange, we tabled the subject and I was satisfied that perhaps the budget would die a quiet death. Two or three days passed and no mention of the budget. Life is good. Needless to say I was thrilled.
And then I got the email. It was from my wife and simply contained two words in the subject line…”IT’s DOABLE”. Hmm, I didn’t need to be a brain surgeon to quickly surmise the contents of the email. Begrudgingly I opened it and began to read. She very gently spelled out all of the ways that the budget was indeed doable. And here’s the kicker, she was right. (And don’t you just hate it when your spouse is right!)
Putting In the Work
The bottom line is that I didn’t want to put in the time, effort, discipline and sacrifice to make the budget work. As I slowly began to “undig my heels” and get on board with the budget, I began looking for ways to make the budget work. In a weird sort of way, it’s actually become fun to find new and different ways to come in under budget. And the long term benefits will certainly outweigh the initial discomfort we have experienced.
The whole exercise really got me to thinking. “What else is DOABLE that I have quickly and resolutely said NO to in the past?” And more importantly, what benefits have I been missing out on by not tackling these situations head on? As I rolled these thoughts around in my head, I began to consider how I can get better at leaning into tough situations and challenges. After doing a bit of research as well as reflecting on my own life, here are a few thoughts that I hope will help you with your next challenge.
Be An Overcomer
- Let go of the Fallacy that “Life Should be Easy”. Often times we dismiss a challenge because we know it will be difficult…and we’re simply not willing to put forth the effort. Somewhere along the line many of us bought into the myth that we deserve a life of ease and pleasure Nothing could be further from the truth. There will be trouble. Count on it.
- Embrace the Challenge. Change your mindset and lean in to the problem. Embrace it. Confront it head on and realize that this situation is not permanent. This challenge will pass…and the quicker you embrace it, the quicker it will be over.
- Ask for Help. Let go of your stubborn pride and ask for help when you need it. Seek wise counsel. Let go of the need to be right. Consider the fact that there are probably solutions you haven’t thought of. Be open to change.
- Put in the Work. All of the other steps are pointless if you aren’t willing to do the work. As the late Jim Rohn once said, “You can’t hire someone else to do your pushups for you.”
Count Your Blessings. Regardless of how difficult your challenge is, stop and count your blessings. Realize that the adversity you are currently traveling though will bless you and make you a better person…if you let it.