1000 Things To Quit Standing In Your Way
Posted on Jul 7, 2018
My Epic All Important Blog Post on How I Learned to Quit For My Own Good.
It’s no wonder I created the 1000 Things to Quit list. It’s what I do. I have To do lists, things not to forget list, the perpetual grocery list etc. I have no shortage of various other lists like things I want to accomplish list, songs I'd like to sing lists, random ideas list, big life bucket list, and the list of ch ores and house projects lists, gift giving lists and more.
I even have an ” I’ll Show You List ” that I discovered from a close friend. It's a list of all the people I’ve encountered throughout my life who have either bailed or failed to believe in me. Those naysayers can be a source of fuel when the tanks are low and I'm grateful to them all.
Yes, success is its own revenge and the ‘I’ll Show You List’ worked like a charm. I would typically yank it out for those extra-tough times when I felt like packing it in. However, a few years ago, thoughts of packing it in was heavy on my mind. I started to experience a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety from the work I was doing. I felt as though my career had somehow gotten ‘off course’ or rather that it had ‘run its course’. I had so much to give and contribute that wasn’t being realized and the effects of that was starting to rear its ugly head. I’ve heard from many great inspirational leaders who remind us that ‘when you’re living a life that isn’t aligned with the plan and image of what you want your life to be, it will cause all kinds of havoc’. I believe that’s what was happening to me. It was stifling and suffocating. I would wake up in a cold sweat in the grips of extreme anxiousness – a feeling that I was destined for some kind of doom. I couldn’t shake it. It was as though my body and my mind innately knew something important, and together did everything to shake me hard to say “Hey lady…wake up! This is your life! What the hell are you doing!”
Gasping for air, I did what any person in their right mind would do. I whipped out a big white board and markers and plotted out new life goals. I guess it was still a list but more of an inforgraphic kind of list. Things that I saw for myself, wanted to achieve, the lifestyle I envisioned. It was all there. A few of my aspirational goals were to finally publish some of my writing, start blogging and speaking about what it takes to lead a decent life. But seeing that all spelled out on a board made me so angry. Call it deja vu, or a repeat or broken record but this was stuff I had on my list in my 30’s…and in my 40’s….50’s. That afternoon in front of my white board was my defining moment when I realized all I was doing my entire life was abandoning the very things I needed to move towards yet didn’t out of some misguided sense of duty for other people and disbelief about myself. I helped everyone with their dreams while putting off my own until that one day or some day or the day a blue moon arrives. I'm not proud of that but it was true. Well, miraculously, that day did arrive. THIS.WAS.IT. The time came when I vowed to step up and stop whatever had stopped me in the past. Yes, it was now or never to get it off my list and into my life.
So….in true form, I proceeded to make a list of all the things that I believed held me back and reasons for not pursuing all that I wanted.
Sadly, this was my list:
-I’m not qualified or credible enough
-It won’t pay the bills let alone a vacation when I need one and even though I never take one
-It will be too hard to get readers and followers and supporters – how can I compete?
-Readers might hate what I write – or hate me. I don’t want to be hated.
-I’ll be exposed – being vulnerable in public makes me feel scared and unsafe.
-I might be laughed at, ridiculed, embarrassed or shamed or trolled
-I could totally flop and blow all my money and then wind up too old to even get a job
-I’ll go broke and end up homeless begging on the streets
-I’m too old. I should have done this a long time ago and now it’s too late.
-I’m being irresponsible. Not sure to who or what – but following my dreams feels indulgent.
-It’s TOO SCARY!
-Not knowing the outcome is a big risk.
I had overcome so much struggle and loss in my life and managed to come out the other end. I had also achieved quite a bit in my professional life. Seriously! How was it that this was the stuff stopping me? The voice of the frightened little girl was the one driving my bus. My pattern was to quit before I even started because it felt safer that way. Go get a job. Support others. That wasn’t safe either. It was all distorted thinking.
I had to give myself some credit. I had learned to quit quite a lot already - things like the wrong partners, untrusting people, bad investments, situations and circumstances that didn't serve me well. I had been on this path of quitting for a very long time and it made sense that it would finally roll around to my deep rooted beliefs on career aspirations. I was quitting in some kind of 'higher' order I think. So, as my anxiety filled stomach felt like it was going through a meat grinder, I knew I needed to quit being such a chicken and finally branch out and do some things on my own and in my way. As in the quote from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, “I have to make my wishbone my backbone”. And so that list of all the reasons why I shouldn’t pursue my goals and dreams had became my official list of things to quit. Quit believing I’m too old. Quit thinking I’m not credible enough. Quit worrying about what others think if I fail or flop. Quit thinking I will won’t have enough money and resources, and on and on.
And that….is how my list of 1000 Things to Quit began.
Then I Quit My Job and Hired Myself as CEO
This didn’t quite happen when I had hoped or how I had hoped. In fact it came a lot quicker and really threw a curve ball at me. But it happened in a way that both proved no one was looking out for my best interests and showed me the truth about things and who my true supporters were. It was time to go for my own good. I was finally standing up and doing something right for myself. I refused the assigned grey cubicle far away from home and everything else that never allowed me to be me. I was grateful for all the experience I had accumulated over the years realizing the credibility it would lend me in my future pursuits. In hindsight the timing was just right and now it was about taking all that built up expertise and doing something purposeful and meaningful with it.
I started quitting with vengeance. I quit the long commutes sitting in traffic. I quit being a slave to emails. I quit all the corporate clothes. I quit putting off vacations. I took those special extended trips that I had always put off for ‘someday’. Azores – check. Italy – check. Ah, la dolce vita. I quit closet-writing and started writing with an end goal in mind. Writing like a crazy woman. I quit people who didn't support me or tried to project their negative stuff onto me. With love and respect, I distanced myself from some and with others, no longer had a place in my life. I quit trying to achieve perfection. I quit paying too much attention to my fearful thoughts - enough to at least not allow it to stop me from moving forward. I quit trying to be my own web master and hired professionals to help me launch tizTALKS. It took me well over a year with a lot of ying-yanging, re-writing, re-designing, hair pulling, pacing and lip chewing and second guessing.
I went to a therapist to help me stay on track. As a single person I needed to build in some kind of accountability. My therapist was great at calling me out on my BS. I meditated and did everything I could to break old patterns of thought. And the more my bank balance declined the more nervous I became and greater the pull to drop it all and grab the first job I could find. Some folks (bless them) were very concerned for me giving me suggestions on jobs I should consider. Then it came. The dream job offer. Oh how awesome it would be to change out my title on LinkedIn as a true revenge moment to that I'll Show You List. But I couldn't do it. My ego no longer cared. Somehow and in spite of myself, I quit throwing in the towel when things got scary and near the edge. I was riding on pure blind faith. Settling for less, settling for going back to way things were, settling for keeping my desires forever on a list, was no longer an option. I was quitting all the things that previously put me in a box.
I had to quit listening to that voice in my head that said “you can’t” and "you'll be homeless and the laughing stock if you do."
What we think, what we believe, what we say, what we do determines the life we lead. And when we operate from a place of fear, anger, futility and lack, it only serves to sabotage our own greatest and deepest desires for ourselves. It’s the reality show called Adults Behaving Badly . We choose the ‘comfort’ of tolerating life with broken bicycle spokes rather than the temporary discomfort of what it would take to deal with it and then ride through life with greater meaning.
And so, my list morphed into a really big one, as I started listing all the crazy things we humans do that we need to quit – the stuff that derails us; the fears, the limiting beliefs, the poor behaviors, the addictions, the compulsions, the false stories we tell ourselves. None of it makes sense. It’s mostly lies. Yet we fall for it. Who doesn’t want better relationships, more fun, more control, more creativity, more flexibility, more living life on your terms? How many people die with regrets of not achieving their full potential? Not me thank you very much. That is not going to be me. No way, Jose. Yet so many wish they had been more courageous to live their authentic selves.
Amazingly, I hit 1000 Things to Quit pretty easily. And I could have kept going. We stay in jobs and relationships that make us miserable. We put up with things about ourselves that we know we’d be much better off if we licked it. We’re irritable and discontent and in a warped way, happy to stay in that place of misery. It made me realize how important it is it talk about clearing those big boulders in our path so we can live and lead our best lives. All the rah-rah stuff is all good and well but before we can just jump to our happy place and our most cherished goals and dreams, we have some clutter and rubble to clear away first. It's the only way - or we end up sabotaging ourselves over and over.
Right? You know I'm right.
Think about our kids. How we need to quit teaching just subjects like math and english and merely developing skills and start teaching and talking about our belief systems, our emotional intelligence, our resiliency. How to effectively solve problems, communicate and listen. How to remain true to ourselves. How the most important thing we can do in this life is to serve our highest selves before we can be of help to others.
Life rewards the risk-takers.
I sure don't need a degree in psychology or have conducted a scientific experiment with streams of data to generate this list. In fact, you could likely make your own ‘quit list’. The only credentials you need are to be human and flawed - so that makes all of us. Besides, I am a pro at ‘what not to do’, so trust me, if there was a cow pile to step in, that I needed to quit… I always found it. I learned by doing and often doing the wrong thing. I had to find the strength and perseverance to keep going. Quitting stuff that had kept me in a cage required courage to bust out of. The kind of courage where you don’t have control of the outcome. The kind of courage that helps you be ready to face ‘whatever’. The kind of courage that you muster from your boots in sheer blind faith. The kind of courage that draws on your every fibre of being to push yourself beyond the shackles of small minded thinking. Oh, how life rewards this kind of courage.
The really cool thing I discovered was the more I quit the stuff that stood in my way and took those leaps, the easier it became to take that next step. It was exercising a muscle that became bigger and stronger and better. The key for me was starting small with stuff in my everyday life I knew I could take control of and quit. I quit things like procrastinating and putting stuff off for another day. That was my pattern - to put it off and put it off until days literally turned into years. Quitting was like climbing a ladder – you start at the bottom with the easy steps, working your way up to the more challenging or bigger stuff. You can’t just leap to your destination – you can’t get there from where you are in an instant. We all have to start walking there… one thing, one foot, one step at a time. The cool thing is and often without warning, your small steps on the right path compounds and catapults you forward.
You are Fierce. Make yourself a bonafide Quitter.
Truth: Our life is in our hands. We must take fully responsibilty and accountabilty for it. All of it - the good, the bad and the ugly. Be your own Hero or Heroine. Only YOU can rescue YOU. Only you can convince yourself you want to quit what holds you back. Only you have to want it bad enough. Only you can step into the leadership role of your own life. Be your own CEO. Quit accommodating all your hang-ups and be the boss of you. Give the icky stuff that’s holding you back the pink slip. Say ‘asta la vista baby’ to fears and worries. Begin to build the muscle of faith and belief in yourself – one thing, one item, one step, one conversation, one minute, day, month, year at a time.
Quit waiting for someone else to give you the stamp of approval or to make your life better. Empower yourself. No more finger pointing. When you deal with your ‘stuff’ and stop blaming others for how you feel can be uncomfortable at first and fantastic forever after that. There is NOTHING like overcoming your own limitations and disallowing others to have influence on your self-worth. It’s like a self-administered booster shot in the arm filled with high doses of self-esteem. It really does start and end with me, myself, and I. All I need to do is drop the pride and quit the crap. Frankly once I gave myself the green light, I no longer needed my I'll Show You List. It's not about getting even or getting justice or anything else that has anything to do with anyone else. For me, it was about getting real with myself. The only name left on that I'll Show You List was my own.
WARNING: Quitting may lead to strutting. Quitting makes you unstoppable.
Something shifts in you when you quit feeding the ego, the bad habit monster, the negative-nelly thoughts or bullshit beliefs and anything else that trips you up or causes you fear, grief or pain. When you can finally say, ‘enough already!’ means you’re ready to shed that load of garbage. Quit anything that reinforces self-doubt. Quitting the bad stuff is liberating. The more I do it, the more freedom I have. Quitting will lead to more quitting. You may even start to strut. Life is hard enough folks. You can quit making life harder than it really needs to be. Really, you can. All you need to do is QUIT believing you can’t.