A few weeks after starting &yet, I started a ritual that I carried on for most of the first year I was freelancing. I began every single day by writing on my whiteboard those four simple words in all-caps.
It all started because one day was particularly discouraging and I felt like giving up. I don’t recall what happened and I’m sure now it wasn’t actually a big deal—despite how I felt about it then.
My strengths always flow from my feelings, so when I’m gutted by something, it just takes me out completely. But! I know I have ultimate control over how I feel and I’ve learned ways to rewire my brain to get out of destructive thinking when need be.
One of the best ways I’ve found to deal with feelings of overwhelming discouragement is to simply commit to taking action and then forcefully remind myelf it doesn’t matter how I feel—I’ve made a decision.
As a person who loves to wrestle with decisions and then re-wrestle with ones I’ve already made, writing those words gave me a tool to silence any doubts or second-guesses that would emerge during the day. The question was settled—for that day at least.
Slowly, forcefully writing each character by hand became a bit of a meditation. I know it stuck with me and drove my energy and enthusiasm. It also helped me focus my thinking towards the important priorities.
If I got to feeling down during the day, I’d go back to the board and physically rewrite the letters with extra emphasis. It did not matter if I felt inadequate or was rejected. In writing those words, I was recommitting.
I was in a conversation a few days ago and suddenly remembered this whole thing, and thinking a bit more about it, I noticed it’s really quite a useful little method. I’m definitely going to employ it again and again in some variation.
Because the words of the sentence themselves are quite intentional and meaningful, they actually do a pretty good job of describing the pattern.
I — It’s on me. I can’t blame someone else if I don’t do it. I’m taking full responsibility here.
AM — I’m committing. I *am* doing this. It’s also in the present—it isn’t “I will do this”.
DOING — This is about action. If I’m doing it, I better take action today. This isn’t a vague goal.
THIS — My goal is specific enough to at least be indentifiable and whatever actions I’m taking toward it are rooted firmly in details.
Pretty simple, but it really worked.
Have you ever tried something like this? Let me know on Twitter what you’ve done that’s worked to refocus and motivate you. I’m intrigued what other simple mindhacks other people use like this one.