I spend a lot of time dreaming and scheming about the life I want to live. I make lists and plans and goals. I can envision what I want and the steps I need to take to get there.
But then I stumble.
And I question myself.
And I stumble again.
And I stop believing I can be powerful enough, brave enough, smart enough to achieve these goals. I stop believing in my willpower and focus on all the ways I’ve failed in the past. I tell myself, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.”
I can’t lose weight because I’m addicted to sugar and fatty foods.
I can’t run that half-marathon because I can’t even run half a mile without stopping and it just plain hurts.
I can’t have the social life I want for myself because I’m too quiet and shy and don’t have a lot to offer.
I can’t be bold in my faith because most days I’m not even sure if God likes me.
I can’t find love because I’m too neurotic and complicated for someone to be with.
I can’t find that job I’m super passionate and excited about because that’s just a fantasy.
I can’t even attempt to land any writing gigs because my portfolio isn’t impressive and I can’t handle rejection.
I can’t travel the world because I can barely keep my head above water with my finances as it is.
I can’t get out of debt because it’s too overwhelming to even know where to start.
I can’t move out on my own because I can’t support myself and being independent is scary.
I can’t get more involved at my church because churches are filled with extroverts and my introverted self doesn’t have a place.
I can’t is such a huge part of my vocabulary.
I forget that I have the power to change. I hold the pen to my story. I can erase and restructure.
I can continue the story I’ve been writing for years now. I could continue writing about how I keep failing at losing weight and how hard it is to find friends and how much I want to find a better job but am so scared of leaving my safety net – even if it is a place that is making me more and more miserable.
I can continue making excuses, pretending I’m doing okay, and that I have control over my anxiety.
Or I could start changing my story. I could start looking at all the different times I tell myself I can’t do something and do some deep soul-searching for why I want this goal and what is holding me back from achieving it.
Is it laziness? Is it fear? Is it doubt? Is it because I’ve spent too much time listening to what other people are telling me about how I should live?
I have the power to change my story. I may not feel brave or gutsy. The thing about getting over our fear and doubts is to accept it for what is is. Feel the fear – and do it anyway. If I spend my time waiting for the fear and doubt to dissipate, I’ll never get started on any of my goals. But what if I just let them have their place, let them be there and work with my fear? Understand why it’s there and choose to do whatever is making me scared anyway.
I could acknowledge that I’m scared I don’t have the willpower or the strength to quit sugar or run that half-marathon or eat a cleaner diet. Yes, I’m scared. I am so scared. But then I can make a plan. And I could stick to the plan, even when it gets really super freaking hard. I could continue reminding myself that I am worth all the sacrifices. I could remind myself that it will all be worth it.
I want to change my story. I want to be a success. I want to take all these goals I’ve been stockpiling in my mind and start achieving them. I want to stop believing I can’t do something and just start going after what I want, because I’m worth it.
Nicole of Life Less Bullshit is one of my favorite bloggers and she’s the one who started this call to action. She’s gone through some incredible changes over the past few years (quitting alcohol, switching to a plant-based diet, and running a marathon – some of the biggies) and she’s not done yet. This year, she’s unveiled the Change Your Story project. In her own words: “Identify your old story, write your new story, and then start committing to activities that move you from one to the other. I’ll be working on this project all year – tackling a different self-limiting story each time.”
I have a lot of stories I’ve been writing about myself that I want to change. I have a lot of shit to tackle but I’m committing myself to this project. I wanted 2013 to be a year of big, scary changes. My theme, after all, is “do the work.” I haven’t been doing the work lately. I’ve been letting that little voice inside my head that is telling me I can’t do this or I can’t do that be my truth.
“Everything you think is true about yourself is only true until it’s not.”
Old story: I don’t have many close friendships because I keep to myself. I’ve never been good at maintaining friendships because I don’t try hard enough. I’m shy and it’s incredibly stressful to put myself out there. I feel boring. I feel as if I will never find girlfriends who understand me.
New story: I’m going to be more social. I’m going to attend Meet-Up socializing events and be more active in my book club and stop hiding behind the screen. I’m going to go to events where I don’t know anyone and be myself and see what comes of it. I’m going reach out to people and form friendships – no matter how scary it seems.
Old story: I can’t eat healthy on a consistent basis because I love unhealthy foods and hate the taste of healthy foods. I don’t have enough willpower to resist sweets. I could never become a vegetarian because I don’t like the foods vegetarians eat. I don’t want to restrict myself.
New story: I don’t have to do it all in one day. Take one unhealthy behavior at a time and fix it. I’m no longer addicted to caffeine – I can do the same for sugar. I can learn to love healthy foods. I can learn to eat sweets in moderation. I can slowly work meat out of my diet. It’s not about restriction – it’s about a cleaner, more wholesome way of eating that will make me feel so much better in the long run. It’s not going to be easy but nothing worth doing ever comes easy. I want this. I want this so badly. I can do it.
Old story: I can’t move out on my own because living with my mom is so comfortable. We have a good system that works. I can’t afford to live on my own. I’m scared to be by myself. I tried it before and failed miserably.
New story: I am ready for this. I have all the power to finally move out, be independent, and begin to create a life separate of my mom. We both need this. It will take some sacrifices, but it’s absolutely doable. It will strengthen me and help me grow immensely in ways I’m not right now.
We can be the best liars to ourselves. We can be negative influences and derail our success. We forget that we need to be our biggest cheerleaders. We need to motivate ourselves. And we have all the power within our grasps to tackle the scary goals that seem so unattainable.
At the end of last year, I wrote a letter to myself as if I was writing it at the end of 2013. (Greatly inspired by Jess!) I wanted to create a vision of what I wanted to achieve in 2013. There is so much hope and goodness and light in that letter. I want to be that girl I envisioned. And I can be. I just have to remember that changing my story means changing my mindset. It means pushing my comfort levels. And it means not settling. As they say, nothing changes if nothing changes.