Was 2020 a Confidence-Killer?
This week, a group of us talked about our goals — rehashing this year’s and planning 2021. And, what became painfully obvious was we were all a little bit lost, drowning in all the things, focusing on what we can’t control, feeling a little uncertain. Someone asked a question that changed everything in an instant.
Imagine yourself in the bullseye of a circle, and you know for sure that it only takes only 20 steps to get to your dream destination. What’s more powerful? Taking 20 steps in one direction or one step in 20 directions?
Well, it’s obvious, right? If we take one step in 20 directions, we basically end up where we started because we are spiraling. But if we see where we are going and stay the course, we will inevitably get there.
But, be honest here, how often do we take on everything at once? I mean all the things: adulting, parenting, working, home projects, school assignments, everything, every day. It’s no freaking wonder we don’t feel confident. We can’t make meaningful progress on anything because we are trying to do everything. All. The. Time.
And, we aren’t even going to address all the other layers of nonsense — like the Netflix, Instagram, pick-your-platform mindlessness that eats what precious pockets of time we have left.
I know this sounds like a lecture, but it’s not.
It’s quite the opposite, actually. We’re all guilty of it, and yet, we all want to live better, break bad habits, and achieve our goals. If 2020 revealed anything, it’s that most of us default to survival mode when faced with unimaginable, relentless stress.
But survival mode sucks. It just doesn’t feel like living well. It’s barely getting by, an endless treadmill of the same old, same old.
Getting by often looks like paying the minimum balance on our credit cards, delaying tough conversations in our marriage, any of the million things that we choose in a moment that prevents us from getting to the next level.
And it’s ok.
Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you?
It is ok. Survival mode is necessary sometimes. Sometimes, life is hard. Sometimes life is brutal.
There’s a time for every season, and 2020 might have looked like holding it together, feeling hopeful then defeated on repeat, facing the unknown, taking it day-by-day. If coping meant indulging in comforting behaviors and letting go of big goals, so be it. Resilience was essential this year and will be next year too.
Even though we are on the verge of a new year, we still have months of pandemic life yet to live, so let’s restore our confidence. Not to take on all the things, but distill the most important. Not to drown in responsibility, but choose what matters. Ready?
Question what’s real and what isn’t.
If you thought that 2020 was polarizing, fake news is real, or all news is fake, and things you once trusted turned out to be untrustworthy, welcome to the modern world. It’s only going to get more confusing because tech is changing faster than anyone anticipated, and we are easily manipulated.
We must be discerning and connect with what’s real. Trust yourself to know; find the fine line between believing what you believe and what is too easy to buy into. Curate your influences but don’t exist in a bubble. Be skeptical but don’t indulge in conspiracy theories. Easier said than done, right?
There are two ways to check yourself.
1) If you think the world is out to get you, you’re off track. That’s a big clue, and that type of thinking does not serve you, simply is not true, and any thoughts that flow from that belief will undermine your quality of life. The same is true if you think all authority has a hidden agenda. If a belief is contrary to your quality of life, you’ve got to be willing to let it go.
And by quality of life, I mean your general wellbeing. You get to choose your thoughts, and thoughts either promote or erode your wellbeing, so choose carefully.
2) Go outside. Connect with nature. Watch the sunrise or sunset. See the birds fly, your dog sniff, your children play. Walk until your head clears. Feel the cold, see your breath, hear the crunch of leaves, feel the sand — wherever you are, ground yourself in nature.
Nature is real; nature has no agenda; nature unites. Take a deep breath, remind yourself what a privilege it is to be alive, how wise and intuitive you are, how interconnected all life is, and stop getting sucked into playing for a team. There are no teams: no winners or losers. We are in it together.
Stop fighting everything and anything and focus on just one thing.
If you feel outraged about anything, consider if it’s a cause you wish to be defined by. Imagine yourself at the end of your life, reflecting on how you spent your time. Do the hours and days and years you devoted to outrage feel worth it? Did it matter in the long-run?
Did you create positive change, make the world a better place, or did you simply indulge in your anger and self-righteousness? Did you get addicted to the adrenalin of feeling vindicated, validated, and provoked? Or did you yell a lot, hate a lot, and end up exactly where you started?
I’m not saying don’t be angry — there’s a lot to care passionately about — or don’t be outraged — there’s so much that’s broken — but ask yourself, is it care that’s driving my behavior? Is caring what I’m feeling, what I’m demonstrating? Am I part of the solution?
Then pick something you are genuinely passionate about and be inspired to fix it. Give it your all, out of love.
Focus on just one thing. Twenty steps in the same direction, right?
Life is too short.
What do you want to be defined by? What do you want to stand for? What matters so much to you that you wouldn’t mind if someone introduced you that way? Oh, he’s the one who champions X; she’s the one who devotes all her time to Y.
It’s called alignment, when your head and heart and life sync up in such a way that what you want is what you do and what you believe is what you have. And, it’s a ridiculously powerful place to do life from.