‘This time it’s going to be different, I swear it!’
THIS time, you’re going to keep your promise on that New Year’s resolution and finally make that BIG change you’ve been talking about forever.
THIS time, you’re going to follow through and take that first step toward living the dream.
THIS time, you won’t falter no matter what roadblocks may come up.
THIS time, you’re not stopping until you make it to that promised land where your dreams finally come true, damnit!
But give it a few weeks or a month (like right about now) and somehow those heartfelt resolutions always seem to run out of gas, don’t they? Until we finally just discard them when no one’s looking onto that old familiar scrap heap we’ve been piling up over the years. Our own private little junkyard of broken dreams.
Why do we set ourselves up for failure EVERY New Year’s? Then we proceed to fall face first into the same old trap and feel really bad about ourselves afterward.
It’s like Charlie Brown with Lucy holding the football. And we all know what happens next, right? Charlie Brown launches headlong into the dream of finally kicking that football and Lucy yanks it away from him at the last second as Chuck lands squarely on his ass. Why are we such gluttons for punishment?
Why We Suck So Bad at New Year’s Resolutions
Take a look back at the past year.
That’s 365 missed opportunities you could have made that same commitment to change your life…but you didn’t. Why?
Because you decided you needed permission from someone else to make that big change and evidently that only comes once a year when we all get together to celebrate and tell one another our big plans that are all set to begin…NEXT year.
But when exactly does NEXT year start?
Sure, one minute, it’s 11:59PM on December 31st and then the clock strikes midnight and suddenly it’s…Happy New Year!!! Everything is supposed to change now, right? But it’s really just a new day with a new number to remember when you write out the checks, isn’t it?
Want to know why we REALLY suck at New Year’s resolutions?
Because resolutions require you to change something about yourself. And the ugly truth is that change is really hard for most of us.
We’re creatures of habit. Mostly bad habits, I’m sorry to say, when it comes to change. And bad habits are hard to break. They crept in gradually over many years and coalesced into the person you are today. The one who has grown to accept things the way they are. That nice, safe, comfortable place where nothing much new happens.
Even if you’re in a situation that’s sucking the life energy right out of you, you’ll choose to stay stuck where you are, rather than go through the pains of making real change because it’s just…well, easier. And to help you stay firmly rooted in your particular status quo, secretly lodged deep inside your brain is a fierce defender of that comfort zone or what Seth Godin often refers to as your lizard brain.
Millions of years ago, the lizard brain served a valuable purpose. To scream at you from within to run like hell from fast approaching, ravenous dinosaurs or sabre tooth tigers, who might fancy you their next meal, so that you might live another day.
But as we evolved over the eons and most truly life threatening events have been eradicated for a fair portion of humanity, our lizard brain remained, though it never really evolved. So it only knows one trick. To scream at you when it smells the slightest whiff of danger, which in our present day amounts to the fear of change. And your lizard brain does NOT like change.
Hi, My Name is Mark and I’m a Dream-a-holic
Last year about this time, I made my New Year’s resolution and vowed that THIS was the year I too was finally going to make that big life change.
My big idea came to me one morning during meditation. I would evolve my passion for music, storytelling and meditation into a whole new blogging medium, combining writing, guitar playing, podcasting and video to spin inspirational stories about mindfulness and kicking ass in life. That’s where the name for my blog, Rock and Roll Zen, came from.
Everyone I told who knew me well said it was an awesome idea. They couldn’t wait to see it (or hear it or read it). I told them I just needed to get a few last tools together to get started. Some video editing software, a green screen and some studio lighting and I was on my way to blogging fame and fortune.
A Wise Man Delegates. A Fool Tries to Do It All Themselves
My big plan required several parts. Writing the post and composing an underscore that I would play live on guitar in the video, while at the same time recording the audio into my recording studio, overdubbing a voiceover, editing the audio and video together, adding graphics and finally uploading all media to their various social sharing destinations online to be found and consumed by the public.
Most of those parts were fairly easy for me to accomplish. The last one was not…the video part.
Hmmm, even after watching some YouTube videos on proper lighting technique, the lighting wasn’t quite right on my screen tests so I played with that for several more hours. Then I had to figure out how to transfer the videos from my iPhone into Final Cut. That was a time consuming learning curve. Then, utilizing the whole green screen filter thing wasn’t so quick or smooth as the guy on YouTube told me it would be. Then I had to figure out how to insert the graphics and how to animate them.
Next thing I knew, 5 hours had passed and it was getting really late. Time to call it a night. But hey, I was finally set up now and could start in the next day fresh and really get cracking. (at least it sounded good)
Daydreaming Is Easy, Making Your Dreams a Reality Is a Bitch!
The next night, I started in on my first official video.
Now that I was set up I did a bunch of takes with ease. Now we’re cooking! But again, I hit the wall. Transfering the takes, watching each one to choose the best one and then getting bogged down with all the video tech stuff again. Arrrghh!!! I looked up at the clock and again it was super late. I wasn’t any closer to finishing either. Hell, I hadn’t even gotten into the video editing yet. This video thing was a bitch. What the hell was I thinking?!
At the same time, I was also working on building up my blogging audience so I knew I had to set aside some writing time for my blog and putting together some guest post ideas to pitch to major bloggers. I thought, ‘I know, I’ll get back to this video stuff soon. Let me focus on building up my audience right now.’
As Long As You’re Moving Forward You’re Making Progress, Right?
While my big idea sat gestating on the back burner, I got busy working up pitches and landing guest post spots. I had written a bunch of posts focused around inspiring readers to dig down and unearth their inner awesomeness. The posts were well received. I got a bunch of new subscribers. I had decided this was my calling.
Those posts were mostly about how OTHER famous creators won their exalted place in history. How they did it by having the courage and conviction to put themselves and their crazy ideas out into the world so we could discover a new artform we didn’t know was missing until it showed up. How all of them faced massive rejection and were told their ideas would never fly.
Friends and followers were asking how my cool new blog concept was coming along. I kept telling them it was coming together nicely. I just needed to put together multiple videos before I unleashed them on the world so I could have a nice steady flow of content to feed them. It sounded believable. I would change the subject and ask about them. Meanwhile, the calendar days kept flying off the wall like in those old movies. I didn’t have the nerve to tell them I hadn’t finished the first video yet.
The Deadly Predator That Devours Your Dreams
My inner demons were wreaking havoc on my big idea. Self doubt had quietly whittled away at my confidence over many months to the point where I couldn’t even remember the initial spark that had given me hope that I had finally found a unique way to share my best self with the world. I was second guessing everything.
Was this even a good idea after all? Would anyone give a shit? I must be crazy for thinking I could start a whole new medium of storytelling? Every night, I would come down to the studio and walk past that green screen, the big green monster staring me down and silently laughing behind my back. My lizard brain quietly screamed at me to walk quickly past and get busy with something else.
And so, I’ve now passed the one year mark without one video done yet.
It’s really not too hard to figure out what’s stopped me cold in my tracks. That unruly beast that kills so many dreams and New Year’s resolutions alike…FEAR.
FEAR of the unknown
FEAR of failing
FEAR of being ignored
FEAR of embarrassment
FEAR of success (what if they do like the idea? How could I possibly sustain it? Oh no!)
It all boils down to one thing. FEAR of change.
The very same foe those OTHER famous creators I had written so much about had faced down and ultimately slayed to make their own creative dreams a reality. I often remind my readers that fear is the greatest obstacle in your way and that you must destroy it if you’re ever going to have a shot in hell at achieving your dreams.
Yet here I was frozen firmly in place by fear.
How could I, in good conscience as a writer, dish out such impassioned advice to my readers and then not live it by example in my own life? What could possibly be worse than being found out to be a hypocrite? OMG!! Dante placed hypocrites below murderers and rapists on the rings of his Inferno!
The story could easily end here as just another cautionary tale about letting your dreams fall by the wayside, were it not for one saving grace. There is one fear that maybe even trumps the biggest one for most of us mortals, which is our great fear of death. I’m talking about the fear of regret.
And sometimes, fear can be a great motivator.
On The Day You Die You’ll Have to Relive THIS Moment
Could there be a worse fate than being shown, at the moment of your death, how your life could have been, had you only possessed the courage to forge ahead into the unknown and pursue your dreams?
Knowing it all would have worked out fabulously, had you only learned to live with a little discomfort and uncertainty.
Failures and disappointments from dreams unrealized would be a far better fate to stomach if you knew in your heart that you gave it your best effort. For that you would be forgiven. But if you never try, it’s an ugly last breath, I shutter to think. These were the things that kept coming up for me this past New Year’s, as I quickly approach my 52nd birthday. So I’ve decided I’m not going out out that way.
Do The Thing That Scares The Shit Out Of You
Here’s my my New Year’s resolution for 2014:
I’m going to do everything that has scared the living shit out of me up until now…just not all at once. I’ll start with ONE thing.
For me, that means going back and dusting off all the notes I scripted for my grand new idea more than a year ago when it felt so right and got me excited again to be alive. Before the demons arrived.
That means finally believing my idea has a right to live. That means staring down that big bad green screen once and for all, sitting down with my guitar in front of that video camera and finally hitting the record button. Then busting through all those technical roadblocks, which are nothing more than excuses, finishing the video and hitting that Publish button.
Yes, that means facing down my deepest fears. Confronting that insideous lizard brain and kicking its ass once and for all.
So here is my promise to you. I, Mark Hermann, promise to deliver the first video of my aforementioned grand idea within one month of this posting.
I won’t promise you it will be perfect. I promise to launch. Then I’ll improve it. You can help too. Let me know what you loved or hated when I send you that invitation. Let me know how you would improve it.
If I don’t deliver, you have my full permission to publicly kick my ass and call me out on it. Go ahead, embarrass me. Even better if you have a massive following.
There, I said it.
Does it scare the hell out of me that I just hit Publish and made this statement public for all the world to see, after failing to make good on it for over a year? Hell, yes! Will it matter if I don’t make good on that promise again? No. Not to you anyway. You’re way too busy in your own life to be worrying about whether I’m going to conquer my fears or not.
And that’s exactly the point.
If you fail, who gives a shit? No one! Everybody fails. So what?
If you don’t allow failure as an option on the road to achieving your dreams then you miss the point of life. You try. If it fails you learn from it and apply that knowledge to your next effort. Now you’re one step closer to success.
Nobody cares! They never did.
Until you give them a reason to care, you’re strictly on the “Ignore” list. Enjoy the obscurity. Put out your work anyway. See how the world responds. No response? Keep adjusting and improving your work until they do.
So now what were you so afraid of again?
How to Make a Real Commitment and Clear Your Good Name
Wish you could have a second chance to show the world you’re not a bullshitter?
Go out and buy a bottle of champagne today. Then, make a date with your lover, significant other or trusted friend. Tell them they’re invited to a party. If they can’t make it tonight, set a date within one week of reading this post to get together for a special celebration.*
*(This is important. Don’t overlook this part. There’s something deeply binding about making a commitment in front of others. Like getting married, testifying under oath. You get the picture)
‘What are we celebrating?’ they might ask. ‘Why, New Year’s, of course!’ you answer.
Before the party, give yourself a little time alone.
Sit down with a piece of paper and restate in writing that old tarnished New Year’s resolution from last year or whenever it was you vowed to make that big life change but didn’t. Only write it now as though it’s a sparkling brand new and marvelous idea.
Then write down all your deepest fears about committing to making it a reality. Write down everything and anything that comes up. Don’t hold anything back. Get it all down on paper. Then seal it in an envelope and write “MY GREATEST FEARS” on the front.
Before your guest arrives, make sure you’ve set the tone. Recreate that New Year’s Eve party vibe. This is a celebration afterall!
When the vibe is right, tell them your grand idea in full detail. Maybe they’ve heard this before and are raising an eyebrow of doubt about now. Tell it now with a fire in your heart, as though they’re hearing it for the first time. Explain why this really matters to you and how you would feel to finally make it a reality.
Ask them to be your accountability partner. (they’ll say yes, trust me) Now pop that cork, pour the bubbly and raise your glass to make a toast. “To realizing our dreams!” Then drink the champagne.
Now hold up the envelope so they can clearly see what it says on the front. Close your eyes and remember all that you wrote in that letter. Take a moment to remember all the creative children you’ve killed in the past before they ever had a chance at life. Go ahead and mourn them for a brief moment but don’t beat yourself up over it. Tonight will be different.
Then take a deep breath and breathe all of your fears for this child out into the universe. All the way out until you have no more breath. Then take the envelope and burn it! (in a safe place, of course). Watch all your fears and worries disintegrate into thin air. Really allow yourself to feel free of those fears for the very first time. Savor this ritual. It works!
Celebrate your courage. Celebrate your commitment. Celebrate your life! All of it. The successes and failures alike. Your dreams do deserve a chance at life.
Tomorrow morning when you get up, DO THIS:
THEN CONTINUE THE NEXT DAY.
FIGHT BACK THE FEAR THAT WILL SURELY ARISE.
CONTINUE THE NEXT DAY.
LISTEN TO THE FEEDBACK FROM THE WORLD.
Happy New Year!