We really can’t control much of anything in our funny little lives.
We grasp for control. We grasp for meaning. We grasp for a semblance of purpose in everything that we do.
In my opinion, there’s only one thing that we can ever truly control. And I’ll tell you what that is. But first, a story.
My Quarter Life Crisis
At the beginning of 2012 I was having panic attacks on a weekly basis and was becoming increasingly depressed. I was in a job that I hated and a relationship that was draining me.
My gut knew what was wrong. My heart knew what was wrong. My mind knew what was wrong. But I wasn’t allowing myself to fix it. At the time, I was too married to my suffering. And I wanted to keep white-knuckling my way through it.
I woke up one day and decided that enough was enough. I decided to act on the one thing that I knew I had control over. And then I did it again. And again. And again. Until I felt like I had removed 300 pounds of weight from off of my shoulders.
So, what did I do?
I took the next step.
The One Thing You Can Always Control In Your Life
We all have access to this incredible, life-changing super-power, all of the time.
You just need to take the next step.
You can’t necessarily control the end result… nor can you get your ideal end result overnight. But you can always take the next step in your process.
And don’t even pretend that you don’t know what the next step is in your journey. Your gut/heart/intuition has been whispering it to you for days, weeks, months, or even years.
Every path is made up of tiny little steps.
The Beatles became The Beatles by practicing for years before anyone knew who they were.
Seinfeld (the series) became Seinfeld after years of being largely ignored in its first few seasons.
Facebook became Facebook because people stayed up coding in their dorm rooms all night for years on end before it even became a platform that had a million users (and now it has over a billion).
Each of these examples are made up of people who continued to take the next step, whether they were getting any sense of immediate payoff or not. They just kept taking steps because they knew they had to. Just like you know you have to take your next step.
You just have to take the next step.
Ultimately, the best guide on what your next step is YOU. You are the expert. You are the guru. You are the all-knowing and all-seeing spiritual guide that knows exactly what has to happen.
But just in case you’re feeling stuck at this moment in time, here are some examples of things you can do in order to get yourself unstuck from your sticky feeling situation.
(Note: remember to only pick ONE of the things per section that resonates with you. The 4-5 action steps per section are not a series of events that you need to carry out in their entirety. They are offerings of things that you can choose from. It’s a buffet, not a to-do list.)
Want to meet the partner of your dreams?
– Tell your friends (that know you the best) that you’re looking for a partner and ask them to introduce you to anyone who they think might be a good fit for you.
– Sign up for an online dating website and put some genuine effort into your profile.
– Start doing things that you enjoy outside of your home more often. Take classes. Prioritize fun. Learn new skills in group settings.
– Sign up for a matchmaking service that specializes in a certain demographic that you resonate with.
– Take a serious look at the emotional patterns that are holding you back from attracting a healthy love. See a therapist. Hire a coach. Start journalling more often.
Want to love yourself more and have a healthier self-esteem?
– Allow yourself to do work that you love.
– Write down five things that you’re grateful for about how you show up in the world.
– Stop dating people who treat you like shit.
– Only spend time with friends that leave you feeling energized, inspired, and positive.
– Eat healthy, sleep well, sweat often, and prioritize fun in your life.
– Read my article 11 Easy Ways To Actually Love Yourself More and follow through on one of the eleven tips that most resonates with you.
Want to get over your ex?
– If you’re still hurting, block them on social media.
– Throw away/give away/burn all of their things that still take up physical space in your life.
– Journal out/talk out all of your feelings about them to a journal or close, trusted friend.
– Lie down on the floor and let yourself cry. Lean all the way into it. ‘Ugly cry’ for an hour if you have to.
– Love the absolute shit out of yourself. Take yourself out on self-care dates. Do something that makes you simultaneously laugh and sweat. Treat yourself well.
Want to write that book you’ve been wanting to write?
– Brain-dump all of your ideas on to something (a journal, a napkin, a digital text document, etc.).
– Tell a friend about it and see how they react.
– Ask five people (who you think would benefit from the book) if it’s something that would interest them.
– Sit down and write the first thousand words. Even if they’re a messy/shitty thousand words. Just start.
– Pick up a few other books that are similar to the one that you want to write and start doing your research.
– Is it already written up in a Word document? Self-publish it on Amazon. They make it really easy. I promise.
Want to have a better sex life?
– Stop watching porn.
– Go sex toy shopping with your partner.
– Set aside dedicated time in your calendar for you and your partner to have extended sex dates (spoiling sessions, anyone?).
– Figure out exactly what it is that you want more of.
Want to feel more relaxed and remove tension from your life?
– Keep your cell phone out of your bedroom. Always. Buy a non-cell phone alarm clock if that’s the only reason you “need” your cell phone in your room. Bonus: you get to wake up to the song of your choice if you buy an alarm clock that you can plug your iPod into. Super bonus: waking up to Jackson 5’s ‘ABC’ is scientifically proven (by a sample size of me) to put you in a good mood first thing in the morning.
– Sit down and focus on your breath for five minutes (some people call this meditating – you can call it whatever you’d like to).
– Go for a walk. Twenty minutes of movement and fresh air will be good for you, no matter your mood.
– Lie down on the floor. It’s solid. It’ll feel good.
– Try out a float tank (often referred to as ‘sensory deprivation’ tanks). They’re dark, and quiet, and have been proven to lower stress levels, enhance creativity, and deeply recharge you faster than almost anything else. Seriously, I swear by these and try to float at least twice per month. They’re amazing.
Want to travel more?
– Start saving for your next trip.
– Start a Pinterest board that inspires your next series of vacations.
– Tell someone that you want to travel with, that you want to travel with them.
– Buy a suitcase that you love.
– Get your passport updated.
Do you feel absolutely miserable and you aren’t sure why?
– Do you need to quit your job and/or change your career path? Do it.
– Do you need to end a relationship (intimate or otherwise) that no longer serves you? You’re allowed to.
– Have you been neglecting your sleep, your body, or your health? Time to re-prioritize yourself.
– Have you completely divorced any sense of lightness, fun, or playfulness from your life? Has your life become overly serious? You’re allowed to enjoy life. Schedule in some play with your close friends.
Want to improve your relationship?
– Tell them how much you love them.
– Do something small, simple, and sweet for your partner.
– Learn to love yourself more.
– Move your partner up in terms of how much you prioritize them compared to the other major parts of your life.
– Set a weekly date night that you and your partner are committed to.
Want to have a better relationship with your parents/siblings/friends?
– Phone them. Right now. Tell them that you were thinking of them and that you wanted to let them know that you love them. Give reasons.
– Take them out for a 1-on-1 meeting on their terms. Ask them what they’d like to do (meal? sporting event? pottery class?) and then do that thing with them.
– Send them a letter outlining all of the things that you’re grateful for about them.
– Send them an unexpected gift that has to do with them and their interests.
– Offer to help them out in a specific way that you believe might bring value to where they are at in their life’s journey.
– Print out all of your favourite photographs of you and the person you’re focusing on and mash them together into a photo collage. Whether you show the person your creation or not, it will serve as a reminder to you as to how many amazing experiences you have had with that person. If you aren’t a crafty sort of person, you can also just download an app that lets you make photo collages and then you can either text/email the person your creation, or make the photo collage your phone/computer/tablet’s wallpaper to serve as a daily reminder of how much you love them.
Want to figure out what to do with the rest of your life?
– Sit for a moment and think about who you envy and why you envy them. What do others have that you wish you had? Sit with why you envy those things and then think about how you can grow to create those things/that reality for yourself.
– Take a free online aptitude test.
– Do an extensive personality profiling/career aptitude test online or in-person (heads up: you often get what you pay for, so don’t be stingy).
– Interview people who are doing work that you’re interested in (take them out to lunch, make it worth their time).
– Read this article on life purpose by Mark Manson.
Want to start a business that changes the world?
– Mock up a rough business plan on a piece of paper.
– Ask your intended core demographic if your product or service is something that they could actually imagine getting value from.
– Put out a free version of your product or service and see who responds to it.
– Start doing the work you love (put out free content, play music on the street corner, etc.) and your tribe will find you.
Want more variety in your sex life?
– Try out kink/BDSM.
– Explore the darker side of your sexual self.
– Try out a spoiling session.
– Try out a new sex toy.
– Try adding in some light dirty talk every now and then.
– Consider going to a play party and/or sex dungeon with your partner. You don’t have to participate. Just attend and see what you respond to.
Want to have more energy?
– Prioritize your sleep more. Go to bed at a consistent time before 11pm. Buy blackout curtains. Move to a quiet part of town.
– Eat cleaner/stop eating food that isn’t actually food.
– Cut social ties from people who exhaust you and constantly try to take advantage of you.
– Experiment with having more/less orgasms and seeing how your sexual energy affects your overall life energy.
– Prioritize exercise, sweating, and laughing in ways that you find genuinely enjoyable.
Want to lose weight?
– Eat a similar volume of food as you always have, but replace certain choices with other, healthier choices (i.e. trade coffee for water, change your snacking habits from chocolate bars to whatever fruit you most enjoy, etc.)
– Walk for half an hour every morning before you look at any digital screens (phone, computers, tablets, etc.)
– Find a form of exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise (dancing, bike riding, martial arts, bouncing on a trampoline, etc.)
– Stop doing work you hate. The lower your stress levels, the lower your cortisol levels, the better you feel.
– Try consuming no alcohol for a month. See what happens. (Spoiler alert: I just crossed my one-year with no alcohol and I feel great. Better sleep, more focus, clearer mind, improved relationships, and greater creativity.)
Want to have a more loving relationship with your body?
– Stand in front of a mirror and verbalize twenty things that you love about your physical appearance.
– Stand in front of a mirror and verbally apologize to the five areas of your body that you criticize most frequently.
– Set aside time to masturbate and get more in touch with your sexual arousal arch.
– Make friends with exercise, in order to get out of your head and into your body (dancing and yoga are great for this).
– Start taking sexy photographs of yourself, just for you. And revel in how sexy you can look when you want to.
Want more money in your bank account?
– Start by self-reflecting. Ask yourself what you’re looking to achieve. Is the more-is-better philosophy actually going to help you here? What does more money mean to you? What is the purpose behind this goal?
– Find ways to add more value to other people’s lives.
– Create something that is of value to others and charge for it.
– Sell off half of the things that you own that you haven’t used in over a year. Believe me, you won’t miss any of the things you get rid of.
– Look at your credit card balance, see what monthly recurring charges you have coming out of your account, and question whether or not you really need all of the things that you’re paying for.
– Track where your money goes on a monthly basis, acknowledge which 2-3 things are the most useless in terms of actually bringing any real value/fun/fulfillment to your life, and then make a commitment to cutting ties with one of those things.
The Only Control You Have Is Over Taking The Next Step
Remember, you can’t get the end result immediately. You can’t get married/become president/become a billionaire overnight. But you can make SOME progress towards your desired result almost immediately.
Ultimately, that’s what your heart/gut/body is screaming at you for. It wants to feel heard, listened to, and accepted. So when you take aligned action towards the results that you want, you feel happier, more at peace with yourself, and your self-esteem grows.
There is always a next step to take. And your heart will keep nudging you (or screaming at you) until you take that step.
So for the love of you, please, take it.
Take the next step.