Like most of us, you’re likely putting a half-hearted and half-minded effort into most of the things you do on a daily basis. Because you’re still waiting. Waiting for that different tomorrow just to wake up and see it all the same. And that brings you pain hard to endure in the long run. It’s a vicious cycle hard to break out of without help.
Do you feel like a coward? Do you no longer experience the pleasure from living as you once used to? Maybe your soul and heart have started shrinking and your passion towards life have been affected negatively? Then, you are more probably finding yourself in the middle of an existential shitstorm, feeling totally helpless, and wondering “what’s next?” You feel stuck in a rut, waiting to get the snowball rolling and bring your motivation back so you can keep going.
You’ve heard all this advice “Be courageous”, “Get out of your comfort zone more often”, “Learn how to overcome your fears”. However, this article is not about making you believe that you have to be constantly battling your fears. In fact, 20 seconds of fear is all you need. You just have to be courageous for 20 seconds at a time as well. And I will show you how.
Do something every day that terrifies you.
A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. — Tim Ferriss
I’ve heard someone call it the “do something” principle, meaning, that you won’t get inspired and motivated just by sitting there wishing for it. Quite the opposite, actually. For example, one of my imaginary friends occasionally advises me to not just sit there, but do something and the answers will follow.
Let me elaborate… Instead of waiting for inspiration to start doing things, you start doing things to create inspiration. That’s how you create further emotional reaction and inspiration which help you to move on to motivate your future actions.
It goes like this:
Action -> Inspiration -> Motivation -> Action -> Inspiration -> Motivation etc.
When you don’t know what to do and you lack the motivation to make an important change, remember to take advantage of this knowledge. Just do something, anything, really.
Make that call.
Ask that question.
Pitch that idea.
Post that video.
Whatever it is you feel you want to do – do it. Trying to make a guess about what will happen is far more painful than the event itself. So just do it and end the inner-conflict.
In most cases, your fears are unreasonable. You feel something bad will happen, even though, there is no logical reason to feel that way.
As Seth Godin has explained:
Our comfort zone and our safety zone are not the same thing. It is completely safe to make an uncomfortable phone call. You are not going to die. Don’t equate the two. Recognize that most things outside your comfort zone are completely safe.
If you are still not sure how to become more practical and get things done, continue reading. I will share with you that one rule that can change your way of viewing this whole concept.
The “20 seconds of insane courage” rule.
Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come from it. – We Bought A Zoo
As a champion – champion! – procrastinator, this quote got stuck in my mind as soon as I heard it. Every time I am facing some mental roadblocks stopping me from taking action, I am telling myself: All I need is twenty seconds of insane courage and something amazing will happen.
- All I need is twenty seconds of insane courage to put on my shoes.
- All I need is twenty seconds of insane courage to make that phone call.
- All I need is twenty seconds of insane courage to ask a girl for a date.
With this rule, it doesn’t get any easier.
If you are writing, write only the first sentence. It takes less than 20 seconds to do that. Then, the second one will follow and before you know it you are done with a thousand words article.
For example, a friend of mine says that when he had to redesign an entire website, he forced himself to sit down and redesign the header. Then he’d move on to other parts of the site. And before he knew it, he’d be energized and engaged in the project.
You get the point, right?
Most people see action as something scary, but as I just explained already, it shouldn’t be that way.
In his book, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy illustrates the motivation like this:
Imagine the wheels of a steam locomotive. At a stand still, it takes very little to keep it from moving forward – a one-inch block of wood placed under the front wheel will do the job. However, once the train starts rolling, the wheels get into a rhythm. If the pressure remains consistent, the train gains momentum.
It’s the same with getting into your own rhythm – you need to take action, for which sometimes you have to force yourself. But forcing yourself to do something, even the most menial of tasks, will quickly make the larger tasks seem much easier.
Every time you find yourself on a dead-end street, not feeling like doing anything, remember that just by taking the decision to do something for 20 seconds, will not only help you beat procrastination and throw your fears into the garbage can, but it’s also the process by which you adopt new values.
So if you are in the midst of an existential shitstorm and everything feels meaningless – if all the ways you used to measure yourself have come up short and you have no idea what’s next, if you know that you have been hurting yourself chasing false dreams, or if you know that there’s some better metric you should be measuring yourself with but don’t know how – the answer is the same: Do something. That “something” can be the smallest viable action toward something else. It can be anything.