I have noticed this last few days in my local community that there is a collective fatigue that has set in regarding our current predicament. As the New Year has come, many people are hopeful that things will “get better” and that some semblance of normalcy will return to their lives. I noted yesterday while standing in a line at a Pharmacy the slumped shoulders of one of the store clerks. I asked how she was doing and she responded, “surviving, I guess.” I also noted the other night on New Year’s eve, a few friends and family were gathered around the television to watch the ball drop when a public service announcement came on from the governor about health and safety during celebrations. I could not help but notice the collective eye roll from adults and children in the room. Yeah, I think people are sick of being told about being sick. I do not think anyone wants to diminish the need for safety and caution, but that does not change the fact that we are all collectively experiencing COVID Fatigue.
Unfortunately, there is not going to be a moment when things just get better. I know we are all waiting for that to happen, some miraculous announcement by a public official that we are all good to go now. That day is just not going to happen, it will be gradual and come in a slow roll out of fits and starts and not uniformly. If your change in life style over the last year has got you down, the thing is that you are going to have to deal with that for longer then you would hope for. So if you have been waiting for things to get back to normal so that you could get healthy again, or get spiritual again, or start talking to clients again then I am afraid that is not going to work. You are feeling fatigued because, if you are like me, you have allowed this to alter, change and reduce normal activity level. Despite the fact that I am still doing what I can to stay healthy, I am spending way more time sitting. I am also allowing more and more sugar and caffeine to works its way into my daily routine. A little here, and little there and pretty soon what used to be less than 25mg of Sugar and 100mg of Caffeine has become 75mg of Sugar and 400mg of Caffeine. My water intake has reduced dangerously close to dehydration levels and I find myself working way too much. My daily running routine has produced fewer miles, as there always seems to be an excuse and generally anxiety levels of really stupid things have increased. No wonder I feel fatigued. I am beating myself up with poor nutrition, sedentary days, and increased levels of anxiety. As I stare into the eyes of other people, hear the heavy sighs and watch their slumped demeanor, I realize that I am not alone.
However, what do we do about this? We do not have control over the macro economy and certainly cannot do anything about our public health and safety regulations. I have developed a concept that I would like to share. It is actually something that I have been following for quite sometime, I have just been taking it more seriously now. We are all absolutely in control of our own reaction to all of this. That is the one thing that we do have the ability to influence. We may feel down, discouraged, depressed and other wise melancholy but we absolutely can and need to rule our own spirit. It is time for that to happen. Time to rise up out of this chair, in many cases literally, and force the issue. You are in absolute control over your reaction, to your demeanor, to your emotions. Time to quit waiting for this COVID thing to go away, and time to get back to you, or become you, of find the real you. The key to fighting COVID fatigue is to set for yourself really inspiring, completely unobtainable goals. That is right, unobtainable.
The most powerful motivating philosophies that humankind follows always have at the core, the unobtainable. For reasons that I cannot really articulate, the human soul has always strived to be something that it is not. To reach to the heavens, to find what is not there. To improve, to overcome, to become better as people, as a group, as a society. At times misguided, but this drive for improvement has always caused us to set really high targets for ourselves, and throughout human history we have had some pretty ambitions ones. Put a spacecraft on the moon? To put a smartphone in the hands of 4 billion people? The list of human achievements in the last 100 years are proof that our aspirations are incredible and the results cannot be denied. Look no farther than the world’s largest religions for an understanding of the human drive to achieve the unobtainable. The big five religions have incredible end states prepared for their followers. Most of the world subscribes to one or more of these. Think about it, one religion offers that we will achieve a state of Nirvana, a state of complete bliss, cessation from all suffering and a liberation of the physical realm. Another believes that their followers will be physically resurrected after death, returned to a state of physical perfection and to dwell with God in his courts of heaven for all eternity. These are some really audacious and incredible goals, and all for the most part unobtainable. Now before you get mad at me, Buddhists and Christians alike will both affirm that anyone that seeks these results for their own personal aggrandizement will not achieve them. So by their own admission the goal is unobtainable, without supernatural aid.
Now I am making no commentary on the truth of one philosophy over another, and even setting my own beliefs aside, I must recognize that creating really inspiring goals that are completely unreachable and unobtainable is a key to human growth and motivation. Since I am pretty sure that I will not achieve Nirvana this year, and probably will not be selected for the Rapture, then I am faced with the fact that to really encourage myself to get out of any funk then I need to set my own audacious and unobtainable goals. That will get me out of bed every morning. That will get me to eat oatmeal instead of chocolate covered sugar bombs. That will get me to run 6 miles instead of 2. These have been called other names by many people. The most notable in the business world is the concept of the BHAG, popularized by Jim Collins. The Big, Hairy, and Audacious Goal. Going back as far a Napoleon Hill, self help guru’s, consultants, and public speakers have been preaching the power behind the unreachable goal. They have not called it this, but it is what it is. The second your goal becomes obtainable, it loses all the power. So step 1 in overcoming COVID Fatigue is to create some new goals. Goals that are nebulous in nature, awe inspiring in concept and completely unreachable by you without supernatural aid.
STEP 1 – Create Unobtainable Goals that Really Inspire You
Two years ago, I challenged my team at work. We had a meeting to discuss future planning, and I was really thinking of how awesome it would be to have a unifying goal that we could rally around. I decided to set a goal, that was indeed measurable, but completely unobtainable. I set out to convince my team that it was possible. We are in sales, so I had us write down the unobtainable goal to grow our revenue by 3X before 2021. They guffawed for the most part, but then the rest of our meeting we white boarded what it would actually take to get there. We would need a certain number of sales people, a certain number of sales engineers. We would have to seriously change our culture, hire new people, focus on new things. We created several objectives that we mapped out and then for a while, we let everyone know our goal to grow 3X. I am sitting here, typing on this keyboard, two years later and I am astonished to say that we actually achieved that goal. Our own individual efforts got us about 80% of the way there, and some supernatural aid came along and got us over that threshold. The unobtainable was obtained. I guess we did not set a very good goal, if it was achievable, so I certainly need a new one now!
Now if I was a real self help guru, which I most assuredly am not, I would now outline for you a program to achieve the unobtainable. I would talk about how to set specific and measurable objectives, I would talk about key results and all of that. There are many other people that can do a far better job of communicating that material than I. Perhaps the best book on the subject is by John Doerr called, Measure What Matters. Read that instead of taking my advice. My goal in writing this blog is not to provide a recipe or even provide advice, it is really to encourage myself and anyone that will read that we can overcome the weakness of our own spirit. We can rise up and do better, we can get out of this funk. We can, collectively, get out of this COVID Fatigue. I do not have all the answers, but I do have STEP 2. Now that you have set the unobtainable, the next step is not to create your pathway to get there. Not yet anyway. The next step is not to plan everything out, create a system, go buy new gym clothes. All that might be necessary at some point in your evolution, but the next step is the one we always want to avoid. However, I have proven to myself that it absolutely works. Step 2 is about habits.
STEP 2 – Write Down What You Will Do EVERYDAY as Your Sacrifice
What are you willing to do to achieve the unobtainable? If you could actually achieve your awesome and inspiring goal, what would you be willing to do to get it? Now before you answer that question – there is no way to actually achieve the unobtainable. You have to get some supernatural aid, and / or have a team of people, friends, family and a bunch of other people be willing to help you. So if you cannot actually achieve it, by yourself that is, then you have to think of this almost like a contract. Here is how the contract reads. “I am willing to do the following in order to achieve this inspiring, awesome, and unobtainable goal.” Exactly 1080 days ago, I asked myself this question. I had come up with a couple of unreachable goals. I started to ask myself this question. What am I willing to do? What sacrifice am I willing to make? I really do not believe that anything that I do can actually help me to achieve the impossible, however, I have FAITH that it will work. That is a big distinction. What am I willing to do, or in other words, what am I willing to put faith in that will help me produce an amazing result? When I asked myself this question, I felt overwhelmed. To illustrate this overwhelming feeling, let me give you an example.
I set this really audacious goal to be harder than David Goggins. Completely impossible. That was not really the goal, but in my mind, it sort of was. I wanted to improve my physical health, lose weight, overcome the weak mindset that I seemed to have developed. I wanted to have the strength to do the really hard and difficult things to improve myself. In a word, I wanted to be hard. If you follow, Mr. Goggins you will know exactly what I am talking about. Now, I was overweight, depressed, sluggish in thought and mind. I was feeling down on myself, out of sorts, did not like what I saw in the mirror. I had to make a change and I had this audacious goal of being physically fit. Like Greek God physically fit. Now that was unobtainable. I am a middle aged man with way too many years sitting behind a keyboard, no one will be using my physique to model the next statue of David from. However, we can all dream. So I started to contemplate this goal. How was I to do it? It seemed overwhelming. I was in a hotel room at the time, I had one fading suit in the closet, 3 dress shirts and a pair of dress shoes. I was basically the pre-COVID road warrior. I had enough airline miles to fly my family around the world 10 times. The night before I ate one too many of those little hotel small desserts that put out with dinner. They make them small, so eating 25 of them does not seem like that big a deal. Now it was 4:15am and I was up staring in the mirror thinking, how am I going to change this creature into what I want to become?
That is when STEP 2 hit me. I did not need to figure it all out. I did not need a degree in nutritional science, or a personal trainer for $1000 a month to help me. I did not need all of that, what I needed was to make a commitment. What was I willing to do, everyday for one year, so that I could achieve the impossible? What was I willing to sacrifice? I started to feverishly make a list. I could not do everything, I needed to keep it simple. I needed to commit to something that sucked just enough that I did not want to do it, but would be viewed by the universe as a significant enough of a commitment to reward me with my unobtainable goal. I decided to list the top things that I thought sucked the most, but that I could actually do. Things that I would do everyday for a year. If I could do these things, everyday for a year, than I would be able to achieve my goal. That was the contract. I decided right then and there that I would do the following things. Wake up at 5am, Run at least 1 mile, do +1 pushups, sit-ups, and squats and then eat a bowl of raw, plain cooked oats. That was the idea. Do that everyday for a year. Well, I kept that commitment. Everyday for 365 days, I did each of those things. Well, except for the oatmeal thing. That was stupid, and horribly disgusting. I am all about embrace the suck, but after 3 weeks of a bland oatmeal every morning, I realized that I was not a sacrifice I was willing to make! Now, 1 year later, what happened? I was not the chiseled, hard, sculpted ultra athlete but I did transform. That fateful morning, I left that hotel room at 5am and ran 1 mile in a pair of shorts and dress shoes. I did 1 pushup, 1 sit-up, and 1 squat on the 18th green of a golf course. 365 days later, at the same hotel btw, I woke at 5am and ran 15 miles and did 365 pushups, squats, and situps. At 7am that morning, I ate one ceremonious bowl of steel cut oats. In that year, I had lost a significant amount of weight, ran a marathon and improved my health in a dramatic fashion. The 5am look in the mirror, 365 days later, was a much different experience.
So make a list of the things that you will do. They need to be small at first, but they need to suck a little bit. Things that you really do not want to do, but know that you must. Then commit to do them everyday for a year. Do you really want to achieve that goal, or at least get close? Well, you can achieve it. You will get supernatural aid, but only after you are willing and actually do perform a worthy sacrifice. Let me revise my previous question. What are you willing to do EVERYDAY, in order to achieve your goal? Now before you get all crazy with thinking through the process, know this. You do not need to figure all that out. When I started my daily commitment, I had no idea that I was going to become a runner. I had no idea that I would be running in marathon events. I had no idea that there were special shoes involved, or that you had to rotate them. I did not know there were watches that tracked your mileage and heart rate with cool graphs. All of that came later, perhaps after day 100 or so. Do not worry about all of that. JUST GET ON THE PATH and that starts with just keeping a simple daily habit. Everything else will come later. I promise.
The previous example that I gave you regarding my sales team growing by 3x had similar commitments associated. I will not go through all of them, but two of them are of particular note. I decided that I would send a daily blog to my team everyday for 365 days in a row, and that I would reach out to someone new everyday. Those two commitments, did not achieve the 3X result. However, they were my personal sacrifice. I figured if I could provide some inspiration to my team that would certainly help. I also felt that meeting new people would help us to meet new clients and also help in my personal recruiting efforts. Now that alone did not move the needle, but that is not the point. What personal, everyday, sacrifice are you willing to make to achieve the impossible?
Think on this. You undoubtedly have challenges in life right now. You might have a hopelessly broken relationship with someone, you might have failing health, your income could really be suffering, you might not even have a job. You could be depressed because you do not like what you are doing, or cannot figure out why you are not successful. Whatever it is, there is an amazing goal lurking around there in your mind. Probably an impossible goal. That is good, the impossible is what your human mind likes. Focus on that. Write it down. Laugh at it, make fun of yourself for even thinking you could achieve such a thing. Now that you have done that, then ask yourself the life changing question, what would you be willing to do everyday to get there?
You can overcome COVID Fatigue, but not by sitting around and waiting. A few days ago, I wrote down some crazy and audacious goals. If I told you what they were, I would probably get ridiculed. I would most definitely get embarrassed. However, my ego is my own mind and I know what I dream about and I have written those dreams down. I have also decided what I am going to do to get there. The everyday things. The new habits that I will keep no matter what. I will do them everyday, regardless of what happens to me. I will keep my commitment, make my personal sacrifice. Who knows, maybe the world religions really do have it right and there is a supernatural force that will hear my plea and give me a little boost this year. I need all the help I can get.
Guy Reams (1080)