Hint: It's not all at once.
I hate what the Internet has done to us. Don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying I hate the Internet itself. I think that in many, many ways it is very, very wonderful. But I'm unsettled by how it has altered our perception of reality. Want to see that movie right now right now? Done. Want that thing you just bought shipped out right now right now? Done. Want the answer to something right now right now? Done. We've become acclimated to immediate gratification as something expected.
So what about when we can't download the body we want, or the lifestyle, or the career, or the skill, or what have you? We become frustrated. And we give up. Because if we can't have it right now right now, welp, then it's probably a lost cause.
But it doesn't work that way. I mean, you can try; but in my personal experience, any attempt I've made to have it all, all at once, has only resulted in an overwhelmed and broken down me, probably ugly crying on the floor.
I come from a family with a strong presence of mental disorders on both sides: depression, anxiety, and bi-polar tendencies from one half, and extreme ADD/ADHD from the other. While there are many people in the world who consider these traits a weakness, I've come to accept and appreciate them for making me stronger than others perceive me to be. Those in my family have had to learn to maneuver this world while avoiding mental obstacles their brains like to set. And failure has never been an option.
Yet, failure is something we've learned to redefine. Does it mean perfect enactment the first time around? Does it mean never slipping up? Does it mean a lack of setbacks? Does it mean total accomplishment in one fell swoop? Does it mean NOT feeling like you want to give up? No. That's stupid.
One thing I've learned from watching my mother, who hails from the ADD side, is to break everything down into little chunks. I set microgoals to accomplish. It's tempting to tackle a goal head on and lay it flat, but if you're like me, you get eager about doing everything all at once, find out that you can't, feel defeated, leave the task to fester, and grow increasingly anxious about it's unfinished state. My problem is that I obsess over a need to do something completely in order to consider making headway on it. But this isn't the Internet. I can't torrent that shit. And that's okay. While it may take a little longer, dividing goals into manageable fractions to be brought together one at a time, will make them more likely to stick as a whole. Believe it or not, you'll also feel a lot better about completing one little chore than you think. Below are ways you can apply this to different facets of your life.
Food: Is your snack of choice Doritos? That's okay. The reason Doritos have been around since 1964 is because they're incredible. You want to eat healthy, but Doritos are like mana, so what to do? Well, one small thing you can do to snowball a trend of healthier eating is substitute an apple, or some carrots, or some kind of fruit/veggie during one of your snack times. Just one. It may not be as satisfying at first, but try it out for a while. See if you start to crave this fruit or veggie. Then maybe substitute more. Gradually, test if you can redirect your hunger so that it circles a diet that includes more (natural) greens, reds, oranges, yellows, blues, all those good colors, that not only influence your snacks, but all your meals.
Exercise: Same idea here. Never exercised before? I don't recommend going out and trying to run six miles. You will return tired, hungry, angry, and so put off by the idea of working out that you won't try it again. A lot of people equate physical activity with misery, but it doesn't have to be that way. Let your body get used to the idea. Try doing some pushups, or squats, or crunches, or jumping jacks, for ten minutes. Just ten minutes. But do it everyday. It won't feel like much at first, but you will be doing so much more for your body than you think. As you get stronger and more comfortable with this routine, you will go harder and longer. You will feel better and more encouraged to keep going, because you'll realize your own potential. Most important of all, do something you ENJOY. You don't have to suffer the gym if that's not your thing. So many activities will get your blood pumping, like dancing, or basketball, or boxing, shit, even walking. Walking is the best. Learn to have fun with it. I've mentioned it before, but PopSugar Fitness has great videos you can do at home. That's not a sponsored shoutout, the people at PopSugar don't even know I exist. They just have a lot of great material that I use myself.
Chores: This is a tough one for me, because I always come home with interest in little else but sleep. The problem with that, however, is that household chores pile up and become overwhelming. So I motivate myself to do just one thing that will help keep my space somewhat organized and decent. That can be anything from sorting the mail and throwing out what is junk, to vacuuming the living room, or even making my bed. Just one thing that, in turn, becomes one less thing I have to do the next day, leaving room for something else. And then something else, and something else, and something else . . . and you see where I'm going here? It adds up.
Skills: I have a big problem with comparing myself to other people. Like, huge. I look at what other people can do, contrast it to what I can do, and end up being like, "Bummer." So, numero uno thing to remember is this: You are not that person and they are not you. And numero two: That skill or talent you're so impressed by, probably took that individual a hell lot longer to master than you imagine. Almost anyone who performs a skill with absolute ease probably put a lot of time, blood, sweat, and tears into it. Again, improve yourself with increments. Now, the issue that pops up here is the matter of time. Most of us have hectic schedules that leave little room for even a tad bit of chillaxing. Finding space in your daily agenda may take some creativity and discipline. Have a lengthy commute? Learn a new language while you're sitting on the train. Have a lot of errands to run? Practice your dance moves while your traveling between destinations. I mean, you may show up on Gawker as the shuffle-ball-changing pedestrian, but you'll show up as the shuffle-ball-changing pedestrian BADASS who DGAF! Remember to let yourself grow and become better. Again, the key here as with everything else, is to stick with it.
Finances: Honestly, I don't feel entirely confident tackling this subject, because by now most of us have seen my wardrobe, and we know that shit is bananas. However, there are still some tidbits I do for myself that I can share with you. One important thing to do is open a savings account, if you don't already have one. Elect an automated withdrawal that deposits the sum of your choice every month. I'm not going to tell you what that figure should be, because everyone's situation is different. If that's $50 a month, great, if that's $5 a month, great. But once you deduct it, do not touch it; consider it money you no longer have access to. Another good practice is investing. Now, this probably sounds scary, because it was definitely over my own head, but there are apps to make it easier. The one I've been using is called Acorns. With this app you create a portfolio made up of six ETFs that are chosen and monitored for you. Aside from making monthly investments, you can link your financial accounts to round up purchases of your choice and contribute that spare change to your portfolio. Thus, supporting the idea of building everything up a little at a time.
These are just some suggestions to help get you on the track you want to be. Is there a possibility that you'll get derailed it up, have to take a breather, and reassess? Yup. The other thing I've learned from my dad's side of the family, is that that's okay. Life happens, and shit gets messy. You learn and get wiser. You may be thinking about how that goes against the idea of rising like a phoenix, but do you know what happens to that fucker when it dies? It goes up in flames. It is burnt to a crisp, totally disintegrated. But that doesn't stop it from being born again. In fact, it's a process that's absolutely necessary. Because it speaks of resilience and regeneration.
So if you feel discouraged, remember that even mythological creatures feel the heat before they come to glory. And of course, wherever you are in the world, whatever your situation, you'll always have someone cheering for you.
I mean me. I'll be cheering for you. Probably from my couch. Where I'll be basking in my about-to-get-shit-fired-up phoenix-ness.