Being an adult is hard. When we had to enter the real world, we learned that bills are due on a certain day, that we need a job in order to survive, and that consequences for failing to do these things are very real. And in the process of growing up, we lost our childhood sense of wonderment. Running around in our backyard, not being afraid of the dirt, tripping or scraping a knee turned into slogging around for 12-hour workdays, just hoping to have a moment to decompress.
Somewhere along the line, we stopped listening to our inner explorer and began listening to what we were told to do so we could be “successful.” But the reality is that many of us are very unhappy, and we’ve become passive in our day-to-day routine. We stay in jobs we don’t like because it pays the bills, or in miserable relationships because we feel like we owe it to someone or the family. We don’t move or chase our dream career because we are too scared. Then we dread each day, and drone on. Mel Robbins, author of Stop Saying You’re Fine says, “Chances are you’ve done a good job convincing yourself that even if your life is underwhelming, it’s quite comfortable, so what’s the problem?” The problem is, your life has become a vicious cycle and the time to break that cycle is now.
Here’s the solution: outsmart your brain. It sounds counterintuitive, but let’s face it, growing means being uncomfortable and leaving your comfort zone. “The solution is to adopt a bigger mind-set by focusing on what you want and then pushing yourself to work toward it,” says Robbins. If we can stop the brain chatter, and work through the discomfort, then the world will indeed be our oyster. Here’s how.
Stop being fine with “fine”
You know when you ask someone how they’re doing, and they respond with a flat “fine,” and you know that they’re actually not fine at all. Stop doing that. Stop covering up every area of your life that feels “blah” with the white lie of “it’s fine” because it diminishes the true gravity of your feelings, and helps anchor you in the “blah.” Just admitting that you’re not happy with your job, your marriage, or your sex life is a big step in getting ready to tackle your goals.
Put things on paper
Various studies have shown that writing things down has helped people achieve more of their tasks. Keeping things bottled up in your head buries them deep down, and they either bubble up in negative emotions or aren’t made tangible enough for you to change. So grab a pen and write down the different spheres of your life, such as family, love, career, and money, and then rank them one to 10. Describe why you feel that way and what would make that area feel like a 10. Then write about the excuses you’ve used for why you haven’t acted. Now hang up this piece of paper somewhere you will always see it, so you won’t be able to ignore the in-your-face motivation.
Spread the word
Humans connect through social relationships, and you should seek yours out as a resource to achieving your dreams and happiness. “When you speak to friends about the things that really matter, it strengthens your relationship to them and to your own happiness,” Robbins says. Reaching out to others and admitting that your life isn’t perfect can be hard, so Robbins suggests you pick three names that jump out at you from your contact list and give them a quick ring, asking for their advice. The advice itself isn’t what matters. Making your dream-chasing a public thing, so that people will hold you accountable, as well as support you, helps move you forward towards reaching your goals.
Illustration: Marie Guillard