Over time you tend to start to learn patterns and behaviors about yourself. For me, the process of making decisions or committing to things seem to follow a typical pathway. This Do Thirty challenge followed a similar trajectory for a couple of weeks. I saw a post by a friend Casey that hinted at something. I reached out to him to to learn more. It offered a chance to do something challenging and bigger than myself. Then as days go by I overthought it to oblivion and I got the familiar feeling in my gut that I get when my body tells me what my brain will eventually know consciously; "You'll not even try because other people will do something bigger or more challenging."
Not this time.
A problem for me is that I only take on challenges if I am certain based on hours of overthinking that what it is I'll do will succeed. At some point my desire to do things according to whatever script I write prevents me from even trying at all. Missed opportunity. Chances for growth whether we succeed or fail are important just the same. I spend so much time thinking about every possible outcome or why something won't work or try to plan it out step by step far into the future and by the time I'm done analyzing it is a certainty in my own mind that whatever I've been thinking about is a guaranteed failure. So instead of trying, I'll often just sit back and miss the chance to fail, successfully staying safe within the comfortable bubble. But what I never really considered until writing this right now is that not trying is a failure in and of itself. So if you try and fail, you still learn valuable information that will be the platform for further growth. If instead of trying, you sit back and do nothing, you still fail. But in this case you accomplished nothing, learned nothing, and lost a chance to grow. The thought of "This might not work," according to the great Seth Godin can be a blessing or curse, depending on your personality. For me, it is a curse.
It was on my Wednesday Fort Ben trail run I couldn't stop thinking about this Do Thirty challenge. I continued to feel compelled to commit to this thing and was brainstorming various ideas when I realized what I needed to do. I had recently gotten into listening to podcasts, and on my run I was listening to an old Tim Ferriss podcast with James Altucher. (yes, I was listening to a podcast while running and I am, in fact, that lame) James Altucher is famous for essentially being the founder of 20 companies, failing in 17 of them, but finding ginormous success in the other 3. Tim Ferriss asked him if he noticed any patterns to finding success and then losing millions that allowed him to finally find sustained success. His answer hit me like a ton a bricks. He said that he began to notice after he found success he would lose track of his health and then he would lose millions and have to start over. He told Tim that it wasn't as simple as he would stop going to the gym and then magically lose the type of money most of us dream of having, but something more all encompassing. He said he would begin to eat poorly, stop exercising, spend time around the wrong type of people (we are an average the 5 people we spend the most time with!), would stop being creative, and would no longer be grateful for what he had. As James was describing the detrimental dose of behaviors that triggered the early symptoms of losing success, I realized something. In the years following Henley's death is precisely when I slowly began losing focus of my health in a more holistic sense; in the way that James Altucher described. It didn't happen overnight and was compounded by being ill-equipped to deal with other life stresses. Before I knew it, exercise was no longer a priority, I did not do anything to fuel my creative or innovative side, and I found myself more focused on negative thoughts than being as grateful as I should be for the countless blessings in my life. Like I mentioned in a past post:
"If we don't address the stress, it will take over and creep into our lives in so many ways. It could manifest as physical ailments, mental health issues, ravage personal relationships, and keep you from realizing your full potential in this life."
I knew deep down that I need to do something that would allow me to wrestle the demons that I've been ignoring. That is why I chose writing on a daily basis as my challenge this month. There was a point in my life that I loved writing and even thought I wanted to become a journalist and write for a living. I wanted to be Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in All the President's Men. The thrill of being an investigative journalist, uncovering the truth, and writing about it fascinated me.
The goal of writing for these 30 days is for me to create personal growth in an area that has been impacted the most; my thoughts, anxiety, and stress. Ever since Henley passed, the biggest catalyst for me creating the road block to success and happiness the way I define it has been my overall mental health. Until my first 2 blogs posts, that was not a fact I consciously acknowledged. Writing is the best avenue for me personally to convey my thoughts and stresses and see how they impact me. I am sure I am not the only one out there that has a hard time speaking and communicating my thoughts and feelings (I'm looking at you every dude out there). When I have a moment to sit down and organize the kaleidoscope-like meteor shower of thoughts and emotions in my brain, I can get it out.
I can thank Henley for pushing me to finally tackle this beast. She will continue to be a centerpiece in my daily writing, but I have other topics I need to address that bombard my mind and soul on a daily basis that impact my ability to realize my full potential.