It happens to everyone, but how you respond when you are lost makes all the difference.
“Be with someone who inspires you and makes you be the best version of yourself.”
~ Roy T. Bennett
“Things right now feel like one giant test after another,” my client, Ron said. “I can barely stay focused for ten minutes at a time. I’m trying to hold together an international, virtual team, and I can sense my key leaders are drained, losing focus and energy. I’m worried about my family, and how we are all going to handle this move across six states. I thought a fresh start would do us all good, but now it feels like I’m just trying to outrun my problems.”
Ron paused, and I waited in silence.
He exhaled loudly and said, “Maybe the thing that scares me the most right now is that I don’t think I’ve got what it takes. This feeling of being truly lost, and for the first time in my life, I cannot see the way out.”
Ron had named it. The thought beneath what was driving how he felt and consequently, his actions and results: “I don’t think I’ve got what it takes.”
The Thought Beneath It All
Each and every single time I begin to work on a sizeable, creative project, try something I’ve never done before, and/or push myself outside of my comfort zone into new entrepreneurial territory, that zinger of a crappy thought pops right out of my reptilian brain and sends me spinning.
If I let that thought float around inside my head unaddressed, it glues me into place, afraid to make a decision or get going. As recently as last week, as I was completing the fourth draft of my book manuscript, that old thought chestnut came calling, and I let it flatten me for a good 48 hours.
I got to the woods and tried to hike the creative paralysis out of my body and mind. After an hour or so of being immersed in towering trees and quiet, it occurred to me that I could create a preemptive thought, a personal philosophy, that might de-fang the thought dragon before it could even land a tiny blow to my confidence and courage.
A Philosophy For When You Are Lost
I asked myself what it is I believe when I am at my best, and how could I combine that belief with characteristics and qualities I admire most in others? Taking inspiration from Eleanor Roosevelt and Hermann Hesse, I stood in the middle of the trail and wrote the following in my journal:
My Personal Philosophy: I do the things I think I cannot do and live in accordance with my true self.
The moment I had it down, I knew its power. The words rang true for me, and importantly, reminded me of who I truly am. Of course, we all have moments of doubt, of veering off course, of floundering. But what separates those who push through to the other side and those who stay stuck is merely a battle of thoughts and beliefs.
What are you working on right now that feels too hard? Where are you lost? See if you can craft your own personal philosophy to pry you loose into action now and in the future.
4 Questions to Ask Yourself
When coming up with a personal philosophy, ask yourself a series of questions and write your answers in your journal:
1) When I’m at my best, what beliefs lie just beneath the surface of my thoughts and actions? That is when I’m rocking it, what is it I think is true? What do I believe I am capable of doing?
2) Who do I know who demonstrates characteristics and qualities that I greatly admire?
3) What are those qualities?
4) What are my favorite quotes? My favorite words?
Once you’ve answered these questions, circle the words that stand out to you and cross out the ones that don’t. After studying what’s left, try to come up with a phrase or sentence that lines up with who you are and how you want to live your life.
Share the draft with a loved one, ask for input, and fine-tune your philosophy from there. Feel free to email it to me for feedback! Then commit it to memory and read it daily.
When you find yourself in quicksand, hesitant to begin work on a project, or lost in the weeds on one underway, return to your personal philosophy and say aloud, “I’m the kind of person who ___(add in your personal philosophy here)____________.”
Remind yourself that being lost is temporary, a place to refuel and recalibrate. It is not an indicator of your ability, your talent, or your worth. It is just a moment in time. A place of in-between. A much-need pause to refresh your energy and gather up what you need for the rest of the journey.