The Set-up For Success

There are various stages of terror I go through when I'm working.

Some of them involve me yelling mean things at myself about how the work isn't good enough and how my hair looks dumb.

Some of them involve crying in the shower.

And still others of them involve anxiety-sleeping, which is really just NOT sleeping and having your eyes closed while you toss and turn, and then finally just get out of bed, grumpy as fuck.

I recently read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. My thoughts as I was reading went:

  1. THIS IS REAL
  2. THIS IS AMAZING
  3. Is this too real?...
  4. Why haven't I read this before?
  5. THIS IS AMAZING
  6. Well fuck, I guess I'm gonna go do some shit.

If you've read it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, then for fuck's sake stop reading this and go read that instead.

Finished reading?

Ok.

We all fight our own weird battles with being scared to just do the work. But my biggest take-away from The War of Art was that if you just DO the work, the work will be DONE and your fear will dissolve (until the next round of work - but really guys, every finished task is a battle won and I will fucking take what I can get, thankyouverymuch.)

It sounds so easy, doesn't it?

So why - WHY - is it so goddamn hard to actually put into practice? And how do we make it easier to get through?

A long time ago, when I was working at a restaurant inside a 5-star hotel, the management would talk to us about being "set up for success." While it made me roll my eyes super hard at the time, the idea itself is actually really valid.

When you're trying to put new habits in place, it's going to be damn near impossible for you to succeed if you don't set yourself up right. Sorry. This is real life and that's how shit works, my unique little unicorns trying to make it on sheer force of will. ("Positive vibes only!" Gag me.)

While you might not make it on positive vibes, I for sure believe in you if you're trying to make it on positive action.

Think about the thing you're trying to start. Are you getting into a new exercise regimen? Looking to start writing for 15 minutes a day? Want to get to bed earlier?

Now think about why you haven't done these things before. What - aside from yourself - has been standing in your way? And which of these things do you have the ability to affect, meaning: what can you DO about them?

Let's take the writing-15-minutes-a-day example. If your writing space is cluttered, that might be blocking you. If you hate all the pens in your house and it's really uninspiring to write with them, that might be blocking you. If you're trying to write in a place where you keep getting interrupted or distracted, that might be blocking you.

You can already see that if you clear the clutter, get some new pens, and find a less distracting place to work,  you're already that much closer to being able to sit down and start writing easily, and without discomfort.

I think that's the real key here: you want to be able to get to work easily. When you clear away the external blocks that you have control over, you make it easier for yourself to make it - you set yourself up for success.

Sometimes you have to do some work so that the actual work ends up not being that hard. And when the work isn't that hard, there's really a lot less to be scared of.

So, tell me: how can you set yourself up for success?

P.S. - I know you can do it.