On Doing What Must Be Done

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Okay, let's talk about the times when everything just feels completely blah, nothing seems to be going to plan and you're seriously tempted to just say "Fuck it!" and give up. We ALL have those days and if you're stretching yourself out into a completely new field - be it work, study or fun, then I can guarantee that these feelings are going to pop up every now and then.

In fact, I've been dealing with these feelings for a lot of this year.

If you ever even once look at Instagram feeds directed at Wannabe Entrepreneurs or Start Up Business Founders, you can quickly be swept away with a torrent of Inspirational Quotes and Affirmations, encouraging hopefuls to HUSTLE and telling them they'll make it if they want it badly enough, and I'm sure that to some degree this is totally true. But what the Insta-Quotes fail to mention is that this will only be true for a very small percentage of businesses. Something like 90% of all Start-Ups will fail, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the people behind them are Failures.

The same can be said for any big lifestyle change, look at the #fitspo movement, or #squadgoals, or the entire personal development industry.

Working super hard on something that you're super passionate about can be incredibly exciting and inspiring, but when your reality doesn't meet the expectations you'd set for yourself, it can be absolutely soul-destroying.

So what do you do when that happens?

Do you write yourself off as a failure, give up on life, crawl into a shallow hovel and die?

Well I mean, you could do that, but it's probably not what you REALLY want. 

That said, you may actually benefit from spending a little time recuperating, reflecting and recovering from the emotional exhaustion that comes with disappointment. The idea of hiding out snuggled in a blanket with a tub of ice cream or a bottle of wine and a trashy movie and crying it all out post-break up, Bridget Jones style exists because it can be genuinely cathartic. It's a method that can pretty effectively be utilised in the face of various disappointments.

But that is a very different exercise to giving up on everything.

My approach to life when everything feels overwhelming, or I'm feeling burned out, is to DO WHAT MUST BE DONE. This works for me even when I can only think as far ahead as today, or maybe the next couple of days.

It can be helpful to have a clear idea of your everyday essentials, and to practice them consistently when things are going great, so that when you're feeling burned out, it's easier to maintain them.

One of the surprising benefits of dealing with a disappointing situation like a break up, the loss of a job, or the quiet, messy and sometimes stressful growth stage of developing a new business, is that you start to learn what you've been unnecessarily cluttering your life with.

Without going into a deprivation mindset, it's really healthy thing to regularly ask yourself, "Will the world end if I don't ________?"

Obviously that's a pretty dramatic thought, but it can help you to gain some perspective on life and to prioritise what you should really be focusing on.

The answer to that question probably won't be an urgent, "OMG YES! THE WORLD WILL STOP SPINNING IF I DON'T (sign a new client today) / (stay at this job for the rest of my life) / (find a new job by tomorrow) / (pay my bills immediately)".

It's more likely that the answer would be that the quality of your life experience could slip to a level you're not willing to accept, and that's good. Being able to rank things by their importance to you and the impact they would have on your day to day life helps you to identify the thing you should start with.

The point of this question isn't to excuse laziness, or to justify things like taking a day off work for an impromptu trip to the beach by saying "It's cool, the world won't end without me showing up today."

Focusing on what MUST be done empowers you to not only get something done each day, but to ensure that you're getting valuable things done.

Is the world going to end if I don't earn an income?

No, but I really value having a roof over my head, delicious food in my belly, and the sense of purpose and contribution that comes with earning money is important for my mental health, so it's something I MUST DO.

Am I willing to do work that I don't enjoy, or for clients who I don't feel really appreciate me?

No, I'm honestly not and at this point in my life I'm not necessarily prepared to apply for positions I have no interest in.

That means that having a great reputation and a whole community of awesome people around me who are happy to, and more importantly, DO recommend me to their friends is important, and letting them know when I'm looking for new clients is an absolute MUST DO.

This one step of putting my hand up and offering my skills, services and time to people who were genuinely looking for someone like me has completely changed my year.

So, how can this work for you?

First of all, give yourself permission to feel everything.

It's okay to feel disappointed, or let down, or burned out and to want to wallow for a little if you need to. Just know when it's time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on.

Identify and let go of unnecessary stuff.

"Will the world end if I don't _____________?"

"Am I willing to live with the consequences of not doing ________________?"

"Do I really need _______________?"

Get clear on where to focus your attention.

What MUST be done?

Then finally, and most crucially, DO what must be done!