When I fail to give my mind any sort of structure or organization, my world grows dark and crazy. I find myself fixating on embarrassments, disappointments, and mistakes from my past. I worry that the future will be worse than the present, and that I’m destined for failure and loneliness. I find myself discounting, or even ignoring, all of the beautiful things that have already happened, and all of the amazing things that are currently happening.
However, I’ve found that when I give my mind guidance – usually in the form of gentle reminders – that I become much more focused, happy, and in touch with my ability to live my dreams.
I like to think of the reminders as training wheels for my mind. I scatter them around my apartment, on the desktop of my computer, and set alarms for them on my phone. After a few weeks, I no longer need the reminders; they’ve become a familiar part of how I think about myself and the world.
What follows are ten reminders that I need in my life right now. They’re the thoughts I want shaping my reality. They revolve around courage, integrity, trusting myself, and the moment.
I share these reminders to help solidify them for myself, and with the hope that a few of them will serve you too. If they do, integrate them into your life. The more familiar something becomes, the easier it is for your mind to accept it.
1) Your demons will attempt to tear you apart. Whether they succeed or fail is up to you. They will begin by encouraging you to check social media when you should be working. They will remind you that you can easily put everything off until tomorrow.
If that doesn’t work, they will tell you that you’re likely to fail and that you’re an imposter. They will remind you that no one gives a shit about what you’re up to anyway. Your demons will make you feel small. They will be very convincing.
Do not let them dictate your actions. Instead, observe them. Let them run their course. They will exhaust themselves. You’ll notice that beneath the demons rests a stable sense of confidence and creativity. Trust that. That’s the real you.
When you can, use curiosity to conquer your demons. Ask, “Why are you scared right now?” or, “Why are you feeling anxious?” or, “Why are you procrastinating?” Don’t settle for the first answer. Go deep. Keep asking why until you get to the root of the issue. This will drain your demons of their power.
2) Honesty – especially when it’s hard – is the key to integrity. Integrity makes life flow more easily and more vibrantly. On a simple level, this means you must tell the truth. On a deeper level, this means leaning into the hard conversations. It means that your actions should mirror your thoughts and desires. Anything else is a betrayal of self.
Some people will be disappointed by what they learn about you when you’re completely honest. That’s ok. It’s not your job to protect other people from your reality. It’s better to disappoint them than pretend to be someone you’re not.
3) It’s ok to be single. The majority of my friends are married. Most of those who aren’t married are in serious relationships. Me? I’m single.
When I compare myself to my friends, I fear that I’ve fallen behind. I fear that maybe there’s nobody out there for me. But these fears are phantoms. I’ve taken a very different path in life than most of my friends. I can’t expect my results to look like theirs.
More broadly, obsessing over the gap between where I am and where I want to be is dangerous. It misses the point. There is a lot I love about this stage of life. I love that I can stay up late, lying on my couch and listening to music without bothering anyone. I love being able to get to know my readers personally. I love being able to spontaneously drop what I’m doing to see a friend. And once this stage of life ends, I may never be able to return. I need to enjoy it before it slips through my fingers, because one day, I’ll miss all of this.
4) I am enough.
5) The only way to improve the future – either for myself or others – is to improve this moment. Doing this will improve the next moment.
6) Playing it safe is one of the most dangerous decisions I could ever make.
7) When in doubt, assume that getting exactly what you want in life will be easy. In fact, there seems to be a reliable process:
- Get crystal clear on what you authentically desire. Focus on one thing at a time. Finding clarity may require journaling, experimentation, or prolonged periods of silence and reflection. This is the hard part.
- Once you’ve found clarity about what you desire, write your vision in vivid detail. Use pen and paper. Keep working on your vision until it feels right.
- Assume that you will succeed; begin taking action as though you already have.
- Be open to the possibility that getting exactly what you want will be easy and that it may show up differently than you expect.
- Now let it go. Release your attachment to outcomes. Literally burn the piece of paper that you wrote your vision on.
- Finally, take the first step. Then the second. You don’t need to see the entire path as you walk it. Just trust that everything is unfolding exactly as it should.
8) Go easy on yourself. It’s ok to be imperfect. Remember that more than anything it’s your rough edges and imperfections that make you human. It’s ok to sneak a scotch or a cigarette every now and then. Even though you’re a vegetarian who avoids caffeine, it’s no big deal if you eat a bit of meat or have a cup of coffee.
If you’re having trouble forgiving yourself, or treating yourself with compassion, imagine that a close friend is in the exact same situation that you’re in. How would you want him to treat himself? Of course, you’d tell him to be gentle and forgiving. Treat yourself the way that you would treat anyone else you would love; transfer the advice you would give to your friend over to you. Zenfully, by relaxing your standards and leaning into your imperfections, you’ll become happier and more effective.
Besides, you’re already on your path. You’ll get to where you’re going. The business will grow, your influence will expand, and you’ll meet a woman who helps you flourish. It’s a question of when, not if. As long as you stay true to yourself and keep moving forward, you’ll get there.
9) Abundance isn’t about having a certain amount of money in your bank account. It’s about realizing that you already have everything you need to begin living your dreams. It’s about realizing that if you ever run out of money you have friends and family who will let you stay with them while you get back on your feet. It’s about living fully so that you may die with as few regrets as possible.
It’s in money’s nature to ebb and flow. Hoarding it is the opposite of abundance. Hoarding inspires fear and a lack of faith in self. It prevents the natural flow of affluence.
In fact, the fluidity of money is built into the language that we use to talk about it. The word “affluence” comes from the Latin word, “affluentia” which means “flowing towards.” The word, “currency” comes from the Latin word, “currens” which means “to run” (as in a river’s running current).
The key to abundance is to give freely (especially to the less fortunate), make huge investments in yourself, and to notice the amazing things you already have.
10) Leap. You don’t need a net.
Those are the reminders that I need in my life right now. If everything goes according to plan, they’ll help shape me into the man I want to become. I hope at least one or two of them resonated with you. If you have reminders that are particularly meaningful to you during this stage of your life, I’d love to hear them. You can post them in the comment section below.