When I read this passage, I couldn’t stop highlighting it…
“One of the most destructive aspects of depression is the way it paralyzes your willpower. In its mildest form you may simply procrastinate about doing a few odious chores. As your lack of motivation intensifies, virtually any activity appears so difficult that you become overwhelmed by the urge to do nothing. Because you accomplish very little, you feel worse and worse. Not only do you cut yourself off from your normal sources of stimulation and pleasure, but your lack of productivity aggravates your self-hatred, resulting in further isolation and incapacitation.
“If you don’t recognize the emotional prison in which you are trapped, this situation can go on for weeks, months, or even years. Your inactivity will be all the more frustrating if you once took pride in the energy you had for life. Your do-nothingism can also affect your family and friends, who, like yourself, cannot understand your behavior. They may say that you must want to be depressed or else you’d ‘get off your behind.’ Such a comment only worsens your anguish and paralysis.”
I never really thought of myself as depressed — and I was definitely never diagnosed with clinical depression. But this passage from the book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by Dr. David D. Burns, M.D. cut like a knife.
I’m telling you, I could’ve just kept highlighting for paragraphs after that…
I KNOW most entrepreneurs understand that passage on a visceral level…
“Been there, done that, wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
You know you’re good at what you do. You know you have value to offer the world. You may even be experiencing a good bit of outward success.
But something inside is off.
It starts small. You put out a message that YOU LOVE, but the market doesn’t move.
… There’s a tiny feeling of rejection.
Then you launch a product, and it doesn’t sell well.
… More rejection and confusion.
Then, in a fit of desperation, you just put out some crap that you don’t even really believe in but you’re pretty sure will work.
… And it does work.
Which should be good news. Except it just reinforces your negativity and cynicism, and makes you feel more disconnected.
And only accelerates the downward spiral.
Negativity builds and builds — like a looming thunderstorm…
You hunker down, feeling sorry for yourself.
Feeling like it’s you against the world.
Feeling like everything and everyone is terrible.
And the motivation and momentum that was the hallmark of your early success starts to fade… Then slips away ever-faster.
You used to HUSTLE and GRIND.
You used to have GRIT.
You used to be the poster child for MOTIVATION.
But today, you just feel empty.
So you give yourself a break. Get distracted. Go do something else.
Then one distraction turns into another. And your break stretches into hours, then days, then weeks.
You can’t get shit done.
And no matter how many motivational tapes or podcasts you listen to, no matter what you read…
You can’t start — and you definitely can’t stay focused…
Sure, you’ve got some basic obligations you cover.
You write your daily email (is this getting autobiographical?!).
You struggle to put out a few offers.
And heck, they might even be working well.
At this point, reality doesn’t matter nearly as much as the story you’re telling yourself in your head.
And the story you’re telling yourself in your head is that you’re worthless, you’re incompetent, you’re a failure, you’re a fraud.
Reality be damned.
So the days stretch on, and you get preoccupied in every way you know is self-destructive.
And you’re not doing what you need to do.
The walls are falling down around you…
And the most frustrating part is that you KNOW better.
You have experience in succeeding.
You have a few wins under your belt, and know you can rack up a few more.
But you’re just not doing it.
You’re not moving forward.
You’re not taking action.
You’re not achieving what you know you can achieve.
And you feel like you’re WASTING YOUR POTENTIAL and your life.
The good news is, YOU CAN BEAT THIS…
And my experience is that as you do, you become a better marketer, businessperson, and leader.
Because by bringing light to the darkness, you can shine through your copy and marketing messages.
By dealing with your own internal struggles, you develop tools to overcome business challenges as well.
And because every single person you lead in any way has their own internal struggles, having dealt with your own is a beacon of hope in the dark and dreary night for anyone with whom you share your message.
On a really practical basis, here’s a few tips…
Even when you don’t want to do anything, start doing SOMETHING.
Make a list of some things you need to get done. And do them. Don’t make them huge. Make them small, physical next action steps. Clean your desk. Pay some bills. Make a phone call. Write an email. And so on.
Develop tiny positive daily habits.
I step on the scale every morning, and track my weight. I fill out a form every workday to track my work hours and take a financial snapshot of my business. I meditate for 20 minutes before the kids get up (now using a journal as part of the meditation). I exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (and sometimes other days), also before the kids get up. I write these emails every day, so at the end of the day I’ve at least written something.
These little habits are huge in terms of keeping you moving forward.
Recognize your negative thought patterns and cognitive distortions.
So much of what we tell ourselves actually CREATES our negative feelings, and much of it is flat-out lies. (It’s a negative feedback loop, so negative thoughts create negative feelings, create negative reality, create negative thoughts… And so on.)
This is actually a huge part of what the book Feeling Good is about. (Even though it’s about depression, it’s about much more than that — and a depression diagnosis is NOT a prerequisite!) Use a journal, a therapist, a coach, meditation, or all of the above to learn to recognize your negative thoughts. Pay attention to how you make them worse by distorting reality to fit those negative thoughts. And work to recognize and short-circuit the negativity wiring you’ve put in place.
Go toward the light…
I use “light” in the sense of creation, positivity, good, purpose. While it’s critical to accept and process your negative thoughts (NOT reject or ignore them), you also need to fill the space they occupy. And the best way to do that is to always be looking forward, figuring out how you can grow, and making plans, goals, and affirmations for where you want your life to be, to give you something positive to ruminate on.
You might have to PIVOT YOUR ENTIRE LIFE so you’re redirected toward the light at the end of the tunnel. If that’s what it takes, do it. Because the long-term reward will be much greater than the short-term pain of change.
This beats motivation every time…
And here I’m referring to “motivation” as what you get from the outside. From a motivational program. From reading my emails. From watching motivational videos on YouTube. From getting a new planning system or following some other fancy method.
Those things provide a momentary boost of energy, which can be good to beat the lethargy for a bit.
But everything external wears off.
What you need is internal change.
Internal change to heal from past wounds, and all the negative things you tell yourself.
And internal change to create growth and forward momentum, to help you move toward your greater destiny.
If you find yourself mired in do-nothingism, make a decision…
There’s a concept from hypnotist Mike Mandel that change-work happens when you are “at threshold.”
This is true when three things are true — when you believe these three things:
— Something has to change.
— It has to be me.
— It has to be now.
When you make this decision, to change yourself, to transform yourself, to help yourself, there are massive opportunities and resources for doing so.
And when you do, results will improve in your life, your career, your business.
Let’s get on Zoom and talk about this…
I announced this earlier today via private email to my list.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 18th, at 1 PM US Central time, I’m hopping on a Zoom call with my coach Joseph Rodrigues to talk about this. And specifically, how to create a better business (or career) through working on yourself.
We’re calling it Transform YOU to Transform Your Business.
It’s free, no obligation.
But there are only 100 spots — and they’re disappearing quickly. So you’ll want to register immediately, and make sure you show up 5-7 minutes early to join us.
We’ll go much deeper into the action steps for creating a better business, career, and life through the kind of internal work Joseph and I have been doing together since 2015.
He’s going to share some powerful and really far-out stuff.
I think you’ll like it!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,