It’s been more than a month since I wrote last.
For someone who typically writes each day and posts numerous times a week, this is not good.
Why so much time between posts you ask? Well, it’s been quite a ride (or fall, shall I say) down and it’s taken me a while to find which way is up. Things have gotten pretty difficult and I admit I have taken them to heart.
If you are like me you wear your heart on your sleeve. (what the hell does that saying even mean… heart on sleeve, it’s just weird?) Your emotions are at the center of your being, and you live and die by how “your world” is going at that current moment. It’s a blessing and a curse – when things are going great you are a whip to be around, but when times get tough you just shut down.
I learned a lot about myself recently and hope I can work on how I operate during tough times going forward because for such a positive guy it sucks to find yourself so down, so stuck in a rut.
A tweet the other day struck me. It said something to the extend of “only you can inflict and create your prison. We are prisoners to our thoughts and emotions. You have all the power in the world to change them and your circumstances.”
It seemed more powerful when I read it but I think you get the point. We are responsible for what we are thinking, feeling and how we react to the world around us. We can get mad or just get up and get moving again. It’s amazing how this realization gets lost in the craziness of the world, one which seems to be getting crazier by the month. As we become overwhelmed with grief and frustration we often forget that it is us, ourselves, who actually create the response of stress and feelings of frustration. Yes, something against your will or want might have happened in the world but it is actually your response to what just happen that results in negative feelings and emotions. Extended for a period of time, this negative energy and emotion can build up and start to tear you apart inside. It’s a crappy feeling for sure.
If you see where I am going you might notice I am starting to describe the first signs of depression. Why am I talking about this on a blog meant for entrepreneurs and techies? I touch on this because no matter who you are, if you are not careful you will find yourself tumbling down a path directly towards depression.
I recently identified these patterns in myself and here’s what I have done to keep me going and start my climb back to better places.
Identify something Centering to hold on to.
For some time my profession actually revolved around it but for my entire life health and fitness has always been a cornerstone. No matter my circumstances, I am committed to remain in top shape. It centers me. It allows me to go into a mode of top performance – against myself – toward overcoming challenges and achieving success. Everyday. Or a few times a week at least. Doesn’t matter if it’s just a simple workout, it feels great to accomplish something as simple as physical exertion and intense movement. I am not OCD about my physique, a bodybuilder or a crazy powerlifter. I am just a healthy individual that uses health and fitness to gauge how I am doing internally.
Interestingly, internal health is directly reflected externally by our weight and body size. I could have allowed stress to get the best of me, decided I was too busy or too lazy to continue staying active, and lost my edge. I would have started to get pudgy and gain weight, requiring me to buy new clothes, spend more money and adding more frustration to my already over-stress-filled world. The unfortunate reality of this would be I continue to lose confidence and the downward spiral would only accelerate… toward.. I don’t know what.
Knowing myself all too well, this reality would be devastating. Health is not only a very important aspect of life, it is how I personally feel “energetic”, “confident”, “young” and “normal”. It’s all I have known for my 30+ years of life. I don’t want to lose those and maintaining a consistent commitment to exercise just 30 minutes, 3 times per week has kept me in solid shape and helped maintain what confidence I have left.
When you find yourself flailing around and losing control in your life, find what you can to hold on to and help keep you feeling “normal”.
Identify just one thing that needs to change
As a founder you give up a lot, but most likely you will give up financial stability to pursue your goals. Not only is it frustrating, it can become very stressful and result in increasingly insurmountable challenges. This is definitely what has happened to me and for a time there I did not know what was actually happening or what to do about it. It feels something like the moment when one fire starts over here, another one starts over there and before you know it you are caught in a forest fire with no way out. The one main fire started a rage of other fires that started to engulf my life.
The best thing to do is identify just one thing – presumably the biggest and most drastic fire in your life – and only worry about improving that one thing. Figure out what needs to be done and how to go about making positive changes, then do it. For me, it’s simply finding a way to support myself until my own company can. Make a commitment to change the circumstance, no matter how difficult it might be. Don’t worry about all the other distractions or issues, they will only get in the way of changing the ONE thing that needs to be changed. It may seem like elementary advice but you will be surprised at how effective it is. Once you have accomplished the task, now look toward the other challenging issues in your life and choose the next thing to improve.
Trust me, this approach is the only way out of impossible circumstances.
Remember what it was like to be a kid
I have spent more time than normal around my young nephews recently and I noticed something about children I admit I am extremely jealous over. As you watch young children you will notice they will be laughing, smiling, playing, running, screaming, crying and back to laughing again – all in about five minutes time. Although young kids cry too much for my liking, within five minutes they seem to forget what they were crying about and they go back to having a great time playing and laughing. Young children are the most resilient human beings on the planet, intuitively understanding things always work out for the best.
I have no idea why but as adults we somehow lost this ability to look at the big picture and forget we were “devastated” just 5 minutes ago.
And this is a tragedy. Realize there would not be such a thing as depression if we retained the same “short attention span” characteristic young children posses.
I urge you to go back to being a child inside, find things you can be truly excited about and enjoy the moment for what it is. When something goes wrong, give it the respect it deserves for a short moment, and then forget about it. Move on to the next shiny toy and smiling face. Because with all the tragedies and crap happening in this world our own happiness is all we have, and it’s directly under your control. Worrying about what happened 5 or 10 minutes ago only hurts yourself.
So that’s my Happy New Year go kick ass in 2013 speech. It’s good to be back.
Been a while.
Great post. I’ve also been in a rut for the past six months.
My first startup failed and I’m still coming to terms to where I am, and where I’m going. A tough time. I have the normal pressures of parents and ‘normal’ friends telling me what I need to do, and where I should be headed. It hurts. I know that I’m the only person that can climb out of this rut. Maybe I need some time for reflection and a break.
Only time will tell.
Keep up the great work.
Keep pushing Nick!!!! Find a way, or make one