The Toolbox Fallacy vs Being Unmotivated

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. 

Zig Ziglar

What does the toolbox fallacy mean? Well, you’ve probably fallen into this fallacy without realizing it had a name. The toolbox fallacy is when you disguise your procrastination with the excuse of having a lack of “tools” to get you started. A good example is, “I’ll start working out when I buy a Fitbit,” but you never buy that Fitbit and never workout. You use the excuse of not having that item to deceive yourself into believing you need the Fitbit “tool” in order to start your fitness journey. In reality, you can workout without the Fitbit.

The idea of “I need X in order to do Y,” is something I catch myself doing. This is easier for me to realize as I equate it to want vs need. When I hit a want vs need moment, I know to stop and think about whether or not I’m impulsively buying something or if I actually need it. Using this thought process for the toolbox fallacy has helped me realize how easy it is to make excuses for minimal things when I can easily complete. Another example of the toolbox fallacy is thinking once you have X, Y will come with ease. Just because you purchased acrylic paints and canvases doesn’t mean you’ll be an expert painter. The work still needs to be done once you get X. I have friends who deceived themselves due to thinking if they bought X, they’d become instant masters in Y. They either gave up or became uninterested as soon as the product arrived.

The toolbox fallacy and being unmotivated are, for me, two different feelings. “I need X in order to do Y” shifts to, “I’ll do it later.” When I’m unmotivated, I can’t gather the physical or mental energy to focus on one task. This results in not having the clarity to get started, knowing what I want to do, and the goal outcome. When I don’t have a clear vision, I become semi-frustrated and unmotivated. 10 percent of the time I complete a goal, whether it’s writing, painting, drawing, etc., I was able to visualize what I wanted to achieve and was physically and mentally ready to do it. It’s rare to have my mental and physical self align perfectly to feel beyond motivated. I usually have one or the other and enough partial focus to achieve my goal. This results in me becoming motivated as I go.

This post was sitting in my drafts for months with only the title and first sentence. Why? I wasn’t motivated to write it. Today, I had enough mental energy and focus to create this post. I had no idea what I was going to write, but the goal was to start typing and see where it went. The idea of starting is the easiest yet hardest thing for many to do. Quite sure everyone has their reasons. If you’re reading this and fell into the toolbox fallacy or simply unmotivated, I encourage you to just start. Grab that pen and paper and do a brain dump, Google search what you need to get motivated or inspired, play that song that gets you pumped, find your groove, and ride that energy wave.

The Perfect Day

I wake up at 6am and drink 2 cups of coffee.

I workout for 45 minutes then take a shower.

I prepare a light breakfast and eat while reading a book.

Do a DuoLingo lesson in Spanish for 30 minutes.

Listen to a podcast before I start my workday.

Video scripts get written and delivered to clients.

Play in Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro and create stuff I’m proud of.

Eat some more food while watching YouTube or Twitch.

Play video games with a glass of wine.

Read a book for an hour. 

Feeling amazing. That’s the perfect day.

Then go to bed.

This usually happens once or twice a week.

What usually happens…

Most days I wake up around 7am.

Turn on my computer and go to YouTube or Twitch and make a cup of coffee.

Each time I see an email notification, I brace myself for the generic job rejection email, but at least they didn’t ghost me.

I debate on whether or not I want to eat breakfast, skip it, or snack.

Open Google Drive to start writing video scripts, but I get distracted by who knows what.

No podcast. Just watching video game cutscenes to get me motivated to write. Yes, this works for me for some reason. 

Get the scripts done. Workout. Shower.

Scroll through Linkedin and Indeed looking for fulltime jobs during a pandemic when millions are now laid off.

Stress out that my unemployment is running low.

Try to figure out what I should have done and what I need to do with my life.

Debate if I want dinner. Odds are I skip it or snack.

Maybe watch a movie or play video games to calm my mind.

Hop into bed oddly feeling no regret about the day.

I still sleep well.

Every day doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to accomplish X, Y, and Z. Try your hardest to do what you can, but don’t beat yourself up if things remain on your list. The perfect day varies and that’s alright.

 

 

5 Simple (But Important) Things To Remember About Blogging

Maintaining a blog isn’t always easy. Sometimes the ideas flow like water and other times your ideas are as dry as a desert. When the ideas are no longer flowing, you stop writing and your blog is forgotten until you come up with new content. Here are some simple but important tips I remind myself of when it’s time to write.

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Search the Web for Topics

If you find yourself experiencing writer’s block, search the web for blog topics. There are several websites that list hundreds of topics to dive into. Some websites offer blog topic generators. They aren’t the best, but they may help stimulate your mind.

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Brain Dump

We’ve all heard it before, but brain dumping is wonderful. Writing random words, thoughts, things you need to get done, just anything and everything can be therapeutic.  You can place items in order or scribble randomly on paper or in a program similar to Microsoft Word, but I highly recommend paper. If you still can’t figure out what to write, walk away from your brain dump and revisit it later. The more you do it, those random words become phrases, full sentences, and the next thing you know, you’re writing a full blog.

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Don’t Worry About Order

This is an interesting habit I’ve discovered about myself. When I write for clients, I tend to write things out of order then rearrange it before submission. For clients, I follow the inverted pyramid format. If you’re unfamiliar with that, it’s a writing style that features the most important information at the beginning of the article and filters down to the least important. The goal is to retain readers from beginning to end.

When I write for my blog, I don’t pay attention to the order… all the time. My only goal is to write. When you worry about the order, the structure may not come to you right away causing you to not want to write at all. When you have an idea, write about what comes to mind first. If you’re writing a story and you have a clear vision of how it ends, write the ending. Don’t wait until you write the beginning and middle. If you have to, write the story backward.

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It Doesn’t Have to be Deep

You don’t have to write a thesis. A blog can be as little as 300 words or images of your favorite quotes. This is called microblogging. Creating short and quick posts to stay active or to keep your community updated on life events, your brand, etc. works just as well as full-length content.

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Hit Publish

I won’t go into whether or not your grammar is correct, if your writing has flow, or if your blog is SEO friendly. There are other articles on the web for that. I’m here to encourage you to simply start writing.

Once your blog is complete, read over to see if you missed anything, and hit publish. Release it into the world wide web and feel the accomplishment of publishing content. There are amazing writers in the world, but it doesn’t come easy to everyone. Don’t doubt yourself. The more content your produce, the more hitting “publish” will be an afterthought. Just keep writing and have fun doing it!

 

 

Exercise: I Hate it, But it Feels Good

Like many others, my new year’s resolution is to increase my fitness. So far so good, but damn I hate working out. I’ve never liked it but remind myself that I’m not a naturally thin person who can eat whatever I want. If I eat a slice of bread, I’m bloated for at least 48 hours.

As I put my workout clothes on, I pace around my apartment to gather my thoughts or listen to a hype song for motivation. I talk to myself out loud saying, “Get it done!” or “You always feel good after it’s over, so do it.” Every now and then I’ll let out a growl then proceed to laugh at myself because it sounds like a kitten trying to meow for the first time.

The problem is, I have to start the motion. Even if I’m not mentally ready, once I press play to start the warmup and my body begins to move, I gain motivation. Eventually, my mind catches up with my body and I’m dripping with sweat with the urge to workout longer. Despite never wanting to workout, I ALWAYS feel amazing afterward. Bad cravings prior to my workout transform into craving a smoothie. Funny how that works.

I personally enjoy cardio, but my body reacts better to HIIT routines. I’m currently doing Les Mills workouts mixed with P90x for strength training. Choose routines you enjoy so the workout doesn’t seem tedious.

I guess I’m writing this to say hey, it’s hard. Getting in shape isn’t easy, but it’s doable. Hang in there if you’re on a fitness journey. Six months from now, you’ll look back and be glad you didn’t quit.

 

Release Yourself from Expectations

The way we perceive the world is, in part, based upon our expectations. As we get older, we gain life experience and tend to expect certain behaviors, good or bad, from society.

I’ve learned through jobs, friendships, and intimate relationships that I cannot go into them bracing for impact or filled with excitement. I have to go in with zero expectations.

As I was researching essential oils and mental clarity, I discovered the term “shoshin.”

There is a concept in Zen Buddhism known as shoshin, which means “beginner’s mind.” Shoshin refers to the idea of letting go of your preconceptions and having an attitude of openness when studying a subject. When you are a true beginner, your mind is empty and open.

This is possibly one of the most important concepts to live by!

I constantly tell myself to go into every setting with an empty cup. If I go into a situation with a full cup, I won’t be present. I would have already walked in with a preconceived idea of what’s going to happen, how I’m going to react, and how things will end. My expectations would mentally prepare me to get rejected, not be heard, and to not get excited. Yes, this can be viewed as self-sabotage, but when you have these experiences multiple times, you brace for impact. There have been times when I’ve built positive expectations and thought of all of the wonderful possibilities only to have it get shot down because I was anticipating a better outcome.

With shoshin, you live your life with an openness which causes less anxiety. Whether you’re going on a date, you want a particular job, or something else you have a yen for, toss it into the universe and go with the flow. Conceive positive thoughts, but don’t fill your mind with the good or bad that may or may not happen. If it’s meant for you and you put the work in, it will come.

Keep your mind open, expect nothing, look for the good in each situation, but most importantly, keep your life moving.

10 Stress Busters to Live a Better Life

It’s hard to combat stress and anxiety in a world that can drive you insane. It’s normal to feel stressed or anxious about situations that make you feel frustrated, nervous and uneasy. When it starts interfering with your daily life, that may indicate a more serious issue.

How to Manage Stress and Anxiety

Eat a Well Balanced Diet
When it comes to appetite, stress and anxiety can either make you eat more or less. When I’m stressed, all I want to do is eat and sleep the day away. It may be difficult, but you have to continue to fuel your body with a well-balanced diet. Never skip a meal, eat energy-boosting foods and drink plenty of water.

Discover Your Triggers
Something in your life is triggering your stress or anxiety. Family, work, school, relationships, or friends may be the cause. Keep track of when you feel fine and when you become irritable, nervous or experience any other physical symptoms. Try to avoid stressors if possible. Writing in a diary and keeping track of your emotions will also help.

Exercise
Exercise helps increase the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. Physical activity allows you to focus on getting through your workout which results in a better mood. For me, it is hard to feel motivated enough to work out, but once I force myself to get up and start moving, the workout takes over and I’m proud I did it.

Talk to Someone
Keeping in feelings is never a good thing. Open up to friends or family that you trust. Simply expressing yourself can relieve stress. Talking to someone can also lead to advice you can utilize. I find this difficult to do for myself because I feel like I’m going to be judged or my feelings will be tossed to the side. Choose who you talk to carefully. Don’t talk to those who are self-centered and wouldn’t care about your thoughts. Choose someone who is empathetic.

Sleep
Stress and anxiety are exhausting on the body. Getting at least eight hours of sleep is important for your body to properly get rest.

Time-Out
Listen to music, go to the movies, take a hot bath, meditate, do yoga or simply go for a walk alone. Do something for yourself! Step away from the stressful moment to mentally breathe and clear your head.

Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Avoid the “I need a drink” mentality. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system. This can result in a rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. Sipping on a little alcohol may seem nice, but alcohol stimulates the production of the same hormones that produce stress. A study at the University of Chicago revealed alcohol and stress feed each other.

Keep a Positive Mindset 
If the only thoughts running through your head are negative, your outlook on life will be negative. Our minds can generate so many negative thoughts and scenarios. Positive thinking just means approaching situations in a more positive and productive manner. Self-talk, the little voice in your head, is the most damaging of all. Learning how to shift your thoughts will allow you to cope with stressful situations.

Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
Many times stress and anxiety are caused by an individual trying to be perfect or live up to certain expectations. Everyone is different and being perfect isn’t possible. We live in a social media world where everyone only shows the good in life causing a false image of their lifestyle. This causes envy or jealousy. Be the best you can be. Perfection doesn’t exist. Everyone is struggling with something regardless of how pretty that picture is.

You Can’t Control Everything
Being able to accept things that are out of your control will help you manage stress. There are times when you have to stop resisting and embrace the lesson. There are times when you can’t change things and that’s OK. It’s hard, but it needs to be done. Put things into perspective by asking yourself, is it as bad as it could be?

“Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.” ~Arthur Rubinstein

Though you can use these tips for stress management on your own, if you feel as though your stress and anxiety is unmanageable, please seek professional help or ask others to help you find the support you need.

Utilize the helpful tips above to live a happy and stress-free life that you deserve.

Blogtober: Mission Accomplished!

I DID IT!

This is my 31st article for the month of October officially completing Blogtober!

I took on the challenge on October 2 with no idea what to write. My website sat dormant for quite some time and I wanted to get back into the groove of writing. As a result of Blogtober, I purchased a domain and chose a theme. Something I’ve procrastinated doing for years.

I’ve never been this active on my site and I don’t plan on stopping. It feels good to get back into writing mode. I feel beyond accomplished right now. As basic as this goal was, I feel like I’ve done so much more.

Due to not planning my content in advance did add some stress because I didn’t want to fail. Two or three pieces of content were fillers and I feel a little bad about it, but my goal was to stay active. I mentioned in my progress article that I may do something similar again because it’s a great challenge.

I fell a little behind and posted three pieces of content today. Go ahead and judge me. Ha! I didn’t have to work yesterday or today, so why not make things more intense for myself during the final day.

If anyone reading this participated in Blogtober, how did you do? If you didn’t participate this time, give it a try! You don’t have to wait until October 2020 to do it.

Why is Blogging So Intimidating?

I’ve had this blog for quite some time. I’ve blogged for about a month, abandoned the site for a year, blogged again for about a week, then forgot about it again. Why? I honestly have no idea. This site was originally something else, but I exported my food content here. I don’t remember what I was doing with this site, but here we are.

I decided to challenge myself by participating in Blogtober. This would force me to write at least 31 posts during the month. This challenge has resulted in me being the most active blogger I’ve ever been. I think I’m one or two posts behind because life happens, but I’m still writing.

My ideas for blogs have changed so much because I felt I needed to write about one particular topic, but my mind is always thinking about a variety of things at any given moment. Why limit myself to one topic? This particular site is about anything and everything that comes to mind and I’m satisfied with this choice.

I understand why blogging is intimidating. I still feel intimidated. Sometimes I don’t know what to write. I automatically think my content has to be life-changing, have educational value or meaning. In reality, that’s far from the truth. Most people like to read blogs as if they’re reading about a friend. It’s all about a personal touch or connection. Be yourself. Write about your day, thoughts on what’s happening in the world, favorite TV shows, etc. Don’t write about heavy topics if that’s not what you enjoy.

Writing is similar to being an artist. You may have a great idea, but the white space on a canvas makes you instantly forget what the idea was or how to begin. You don’t have to be organized. Just start jotting things down. Don’t worry about the order in which to write. You can figure that out later. There have been several times where I switched the placement of paragraphs after writing because it flowed better.

Blogs don’t have to be lengthy. Start off writing 300 words. Over time, your fingers will glide across your keyboard with little effort.

All you have to do is start! I don’t have an editorial calendar, but if you like to be organized, think about what you want to write about in advance. You don’t have to post every day. Start with twice a week. Don’t make blogging a chore. When you look back at your blog, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come in consistency and writing style.
Don’t be intimidate. Just start writing. With consistency, you’ll develop the habit in no time.

 

The Constant Game of Regret

Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Odds are, you regret more than one thing in your life. Whether it’s a previous relationship, educational choice, job, or that one moment when you should have said yes or no. We’ve all been there. As we live our lives, the constant game of regret is neverending.

Why do we regret so much?

If you’re lucky to live your life without regret, good for you. Many people aren’t that lucky.

Regret can eat at you longer than it should. You start to wonder, “I should have…” or “Why did I say…?” Your imagination starts to create different scenarios with outcomes you’ll never experience. These imagined outcomes fester in your brain and create alternate outcomes that stress you out more.

Constantly wondering “what if” drives us crazy.

Sometimes regret comes years later after you’ve had time to process things or during an evaluation of your life. This form of regret can cause temporary emotions, but since you’re so far removed from it, the imagined outcome doesn’t bother you as much unless the past decision is impacting your present life.

We can’t help but regret certain choices.

I’ve fallen victim to this mental deceit more than I’d like to admit.  I know how to find that one little thing that I could have done better and it annoys me.

Focus on the now.

“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.”

― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

So what’s the message here? We can’t rewind time. Regret isn’t always delusional. Learn from what you feel was a mistake, but don’t let it mentally destroy you. Sometimes there is an element to learn. To improve.

What’s done is done. It will be hard. Nothing is easy. We experience new things each day. Regret is bound to reappear, but stay focused on the positive outcomes from your choices. There’s always some good that came out of a decision. Whether that positive is large or small, it’s always present.

Regret is part of life. It’s normal. It’s annoying. In the end, it can be enlightening.

 

Your Job Should Not Destroy Your Mental Health

Your job should never destroy your mental health!

I work with an individual who is sweet beyond words. She does her job, gets tasks done on time, and never causes issues. The problem? She is overworked thanks to two individuals not wanting to pull their weight, people take credit for her hard work, and they go to her for everything. It has gotten to the point of her feeling stressed and going grey at 23-years-old. She has admitted to working from 8 am-1 am at one point and gets very little sleep because people ping her at all hours of the night. Since she’s a hard worker, she feels obligated to do the work.

I’ve witnessed her cry at work multiple times. She admitted to crying several times on and off-site. Some may say she’s simply emotional, but when you’re overwhelmed, your stress will reveal itself one way or the other.

I cannot stress this enough to people. Your mental health is more important than anything. If you feel yourself deteriorating, step back. Take a day off. Don’t answer emails, phone calls, instant messages, or text. There’s nothing wrong with having a “me day.” We all need them. There are several jobs out there that don’t believe in or practice a work-life balance.

Some people are so stressed and mentally exhausted that they don’t know how to function at work or cope with additional difficulties. This can often lead to suicidal thoughts or a sudden burst of rage.

Please, if you’re feeling mentally or physically exhausted, talk to your supervisor or someone higher up who will listen and express empathy. If you don’t have someone, it’s alright to call out.

According to one study, only 7% will use a sick day for their mental health.

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YOU are a priority! Take the day off. Make it a three day weekend. Make it a promise to yourself to focus on you and you only. It won’t hurt. The last thing you want to do is dread going to work before you go to bed or before you get out of it the next morning.