“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
— Aristotle Onassis
We are all going through a tremendously challenging time right now, being locked down without a lot of constructive outlets for our energy and our desire to connect with others. During these “darkest moments”, it can be very difficult to maintain a positive attitude. And when we’re constantly bombarded with negativity, that can make us focus on the negative aspects of our lives, furthering our downward spiral. It’s very normal to feel like we are losing control, and have fallen away from achieving the goals that we had set out for ourselves, whether they were established as a resolution B.C. (Before COVID), or after, like “I am going to workout every day during this lockdown.”
Isn’t it amazing that it there are people out there that seem to have not lost a step? They are maintaining progress toward their goals, and maybe even thriving during quarantine. It is true that some people or some industries are set up well to profit from this crisis, such as online retailers and app developers! But many people that are thriving are facing just as dire of a situation as we are. What makes them different?
My theory is that they have structured their lives, or maybe even a small part of their lives, to avoid negativity and achieve focus. It all starts with what they do when they wake up in the morning.
To be productive and to achieve your goals, no matter if it’s COVID-time or not, you have to start your day by recommitting to those goals. Remind yourself that whatever happened yesterday and the days before is in the past. It’s done, and really nothing can be undone. What you can do is take your life in one-day increments. One Day At A Time.
As part of your morning practice (a daily ritual that you have, right?), review your purpose and your current goals. I like to have one major goal at a time for each role in my life.
1. What you can do today to move yourself closer to your purpose
2. One thing you can do today to advance the ball toward one of your goals
Now you’ve committed yourself to at least two actions today that will be positive developments in your life, and are aligned with your purpose and goals. The next step is to take those actions. Schedule them into your day if they are specific tasks that need to be done. Or if they are more general, like “I’m not going to drink any alcohol today,” cement in your mind the positive result you will get by sticking to that plan all day. “I’m doing this today so that I will continue toward my goal of losing 10 pounds.” Then later on, when you start mentally wrestling with yourself about overturning your plan, tell yourself, “STOP. I’m doing this today because…” and remind yourself again about the positive result, the goal you are going to achieve and the good feelings that will accompany that. I’ll follow that up with a simple mantra that is meaningful to me and will put me back into an aggressively positive mental state, like “Stay on the Path,” to remind myself to stay true to my purpose, or “Easy Day,” to reinforce that this is not really a big deal, I’ve done a lot harder things in my lifetime and there are people going through much worse at this very instant.
Remember as well during your morning practice and as you’re taking positive action during your day — you’re not committing to this action for the rest of your life. Stop looking ahead and scaring yourself with stuff that hasn’t happened yet. Look down at your feet and move one in front of the other. One Day At A Time. Tomorrow you’ll wake up and have the same choices. But if you get on a roll and start stringing positive day after positive day together, it does get easier to make those choices. You don’t want to mess up the streak, and it feels good to succeed, you know?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”