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What Starting the New Year Late Taught Me

I know I'm getting a late start here, but it wasn't really until like January 6th that it felt like the new year was starting. Anyone else?

I was finally back at home after weeks away, working in my own office, and in my routines again. I’d been thinking and planning and dreaming about 2020 but it wasn’t until that first Monday that I felt like it was GO TIME.

The week started out a little rocky, feeling stressed while looking ahead and thinking, “FRICK. How am I going to get all of this done??”

But when I slowed down, took a few deep breaths, and opened my calendar to create a plan of action, I realized I CAN actually get it all done - I just needed a solid path forward.

The best part of this story? I actually finished all of my big tasks that day AHEAD of schedule - AND had time to work on a few extra things.

Stop Underestimating Yourself!

I’ve been realizing that I constantly underestimate how much I’m capable of. Overwhelm, fear, doubts, comparison, analysis. All of these can paralyze me sometimes. Maybe you can relate. But I’ve been learning and re-learning that we humans are truly capable of SO much more than we think. There is something about a big goal that makes us rise to the challenge and PROVE how much we can do.

I’ve heard it put like this before:

“When we’re at a loss, we reach for the lowest bar - and the lowest bar is typically our highest level of training.”

Thank you, Rachel Hollis. In other words, if you want to run 30 miles but have only ever run a maximum of 5, your body and brain will naturally start to give up around mile 5 since that’s all it’s ever known.

However, we can push past that metaphorical mile 5 and form a new HABIT, physically and mentally creating a new “bar” for ourself. Over time, by continuing to raise that bar and subsequently rising to the challenge, we prove to our body and brain that we are capable of more and more and more. We create new standards.

We are essentially limitless.

Your Brain is Proof

Can’t relate to the running analogy? Okay, Cal Newport gets a little more scientific in his book Deep Work. Something that struck me early in the book was that we basically create “cement” in our brains in the form myelin around the neural pathways that we use most often. And we can control which pathways those are based on what we practice.

“To understand the role of myelin in improvement, keep in mind that skills - be they intellectual or physical - eventually reduce down to brain circuits. This new science of performance argues that you get better at a skill as you develop more myelin around the relevant neurons, allowing the corresponding circuit to fire more effortlessly and effectively. To be great at something is to be well myelinated.“

How much we want to accomplish comes down to the benchmarks we set and dedicating ourselves to them.

It's Actually Pretty Simple

So at the beginning of the week when I was sitting there drinking tea and simply trying to conceptualize in my mind all the tasks I had to get done in the upcoming week, it felt impossible. I TOLD myself that it was impossible! I had convinced myself it couldn’t happen. And that caused major stress.

But then I remembered that successful people form habits through practice that set them up for success.

Like time blocking. And dedication to periods of flow-state work. And a positive mindset. Duh Mariah.

And then I opened up my calendar and figured out HOW to make it all happen. And it did. It’s that simple, friends.

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