“Tell me how you keep moving forward when you feel overwhelmed” I ask my best friend and writing partner.
“I have no idea. I can’t think right now, I’m fucking exhausted” she responds.
Then ten minutes later I get this:
This common feeling of overwhelm, along with the idea that resolutions never work, is not an indicator that you have too much to do or that you are bad at making choices. It’s a sign that you are being controlled by the fear center of your brain, which literally paralyzes your ability to change.
If you take a moment and write down 2 or 3 steps that you could take to support your change efforts, you’ll start the process of thawing out your fear- frozen brain.
Don’t worry about the “right” steps. Just write down whatever comes to mind.
For example, if you want to lose weight, you could track what you eat, drink 8 glasses of water each day, or join weight watchers.
Make sure that at least one of the steps is possible right now, and take it.
Even the smallest actions towards your desired result will convince your brain that you are NOT going to die if you change, which will enable your motor cortex to fire up and respond to your logical thought center instead of your paranoid amygdala, the fear generators of your brain. (remember, in amygdala language, change means death.)
Each action step that you take, no matter how tiny, is a giant leap forward for your brain and your heart. (I like to think of my motor cortex as an anxious race horse, just waiting for me to open the gate with an action, and my subconscious as the talented jockey on top of that horse, eagerly anticipating my permission to lead him to a big win.)
If you are feeling like something is impossible, try to remember that it’s a trick being played on you by your primitive brain-you are way smarter and more powerful than your tiny fear generators- you just have to learn a few simple techniques. (And of course, practice them incessantly- because, like my friend Tyler Lewke says, “the answer is, forever and always, in the work.”)
The evidence is in. Take the first step, as soon as possible, and get ready for success.
Action works. That’s the simple, scientific truth. All the planning in the world can’t even come close to the power of a simple step towards your dream.