“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” — Haruki Murakami
I really don't want to write this article, which is precisely why I should. I've had a shit week which makes me only want to do stuff that is easy. This is where the importance of consistency kicks in. I'm going to share some thoughts which I have written sporadically on my iPhone over the last 12 months that inspired the theme of this article. It may not read as polished as my previous articles, but I thought I should put it out there anyway. You may feel some of the ideas are good, some are ok, but regardless, they have helped me process certain challenges, trials and tribulations over the last 12 months and especially the last week and I'm hoping at least some of them can help you also.
When you get to the tail end of the year, it can often be the toughest part as you are nearly at the finish line, you can practically see it, yet each step seems 10x harder than the steps before that. Hopefully, this article can give you the much-needed boost to get you through to the finish line and also give you some useful tactics which you can begin applying to 2020.
I have just wrapped up designing our June 2020 collection, and for some reason, I found it exhausting and struggled to meet the deadline, which prompted me to write this article. Designing a collection every month while running a growing company that's rewarded and judged based on the creative output is challenging. Therefore keeping a clear and calm head is imperative to sustain a constant flow of good quality ideas despite how I feel.
It's essential to look at the thoughts you wrote down in the good times because they will help you charge forward in the bad times. If you don't do this, you should, because there will be patterns you have developed which you probably are not aware of. It's always interesting to observe your mood and points of view when you are going through certain things in your life, both good and bad. When sales are pouring in, and things are going well, you feel you can conquer the world. When sales are dry and things aren’t going well for whatever reason, you immediately think of the worst-case scenario. It's so important to have a bunch of techniques, tools and tactics you can rely on when you have the shit days, because the shit days happen to all of us, so you may as well be well equipped.
I know this sounds cheesy, but we’re all here to do something special. Sometimes it takes a while to find out what that "special thing" is, but you must start to think about it because it's going to give you the most fulfilment and drive and also mitigate the number of shit days or weeks you have.
If you don't know what your "special thing" is off the top of your head, write it down and answer this question:
What are the areas of my life that bear the most fruit?
The answer will startle you. The answer to this question will help cut through a lot of the bullshit you are doing in your life and in your business. The aim of life is to focus on the things that bear the most fruit. By fruit, I mean; what gives you the most satisfaction, the most financial reward, what gives you the most energy, what fills you up, what makes you feel amazing, what gets you in the creative flow, what makes you feel like time disappears, what makes you feel like you can tackle any problem. Give it a try.
So below are a few ideas from my iPhone inspired from the books I've read, audiobooks I've listened to, conversations I've had with friends and family and randomness I plucked from thin air. These strategies are designed to be implemented all the time to avoid the shit weeks. However, they are also powerful enough to implement straight away and get results even if you haven't done them before. I'm not suggesting my ideas are the only ideas, but they do help me a lot, and they have certainly helped me charge through one of the toughest weeks I have had this year.
- Keep an energy audit. This is something that's crazy powerful. I can't remember where I heard about it, but I implemented it straight away and quickly got a clear picture of what's draining me and what’s energising me. It's super easy to do. I would recommend doing it on a spreadsheet rather than writing it down so you can keep it tidy and do it fast. I recommend keeping an energy audit for at least a week to give you a good overview of the week, including how you feel on weekends and Mondays where you tend to be a lot more lenient with your discipline and habits. All you need to do is make 4 columns and write the day and date along with how many hours of sleep you got the night before.
Column 1: write all the tasks you did that day, e.g. (meditation in the morning, a meeting with such and such, made music).
Column 2: write down the time you did it, e.g. (meditation 6-620am, meeting with James from 7-8 am).
Column 3: write what you drank or ate, e.g. (butter and coconut oil with black coffee and 2 glasses of water, a chicken sandwich). This is key because you will also distinguish what foods you should avoid, if you're drinking too much coffee or if your not drinking enough water etc. Record what you ate and drank from the moment you got up to when you go to bed even if you have a meeting and ate nothing.
Column 4 (the most important column) Your energy rating. This is how each segment, task, and what you put in your mouth made you feel. Keep it really simple. +2 is you felt extremely energised from the task or meal, 0 means you felt ok, -2 means it completely depleted you and made you feel like crap. Highlight anything above +1 in green so you can visually see everything that makes you feel great and highlight everything below -1 in red so you can see everything that makes you feel crap and that's draining you. This whole exercise seems laborious, however, it becomes fun and pretty damn satisfying to look at after a week. You begin to see the patterns. The aim of the game is to get your energy levels above +1 as often as possible and eliminate all the stuff that drains you.
After having my bad week, I looked at my energy audit after not looking at it for a while. I noticed I wasn't drinking enough water, I wasn't sleeping enough, I wasn't exercising as much, which affected my mood, and I wasn't doing enough creative work. I immediately made the changes and implemented all the tasks and foods that gave me a +1 and +2 energy rating, eliminated anything that was -1 and -2 and could straight away feel the difference. PS I have taken a screenshot of my energy audit which you can look at here.
- Don't rely on motivation, rely on your habits. Some days we just aren't motivated and just aren't feeling it. Motivation is like a warm bath. It can come on strong, and then it can slowly fade away for whatever reason. To rely solely on motivation to get through the tough week isn't going to work. Instead, lean on your habits and rituals even if you don't feel like it. It's your habits and routines that will carry you on the days that you don't feel motivated. Regardless of how I feel, I do my absolute best to stick to my habits, especially my morning routines as this keeps me aligned to my goals and kicks me into gear. I usually become motivated and feel a lot better as a result of it.
- Stay clean. It's easy to eat the crap food, watch TV, drink alcohol or smoke some weed to make you feel better momentarily during those tough weeks. Don't do it, as it's going to make you feel worse once the dopamine hit is gone and the poison is in your system. Instead, you're best to double down on your health and indulge in nature and positive material. You will feel 100x better about yourself tomorrow.
- Find the lesson in the struggle. Out of pain can come some of your most significant breakthroughs and lessons. Out of a battle can be a distinction to a new idea or something you have missed entirely. Ask yourself questions like, what am I not seeing? What's the lesson here? What's the gift wrapped up in disguise? If you are having a bad week, it's because you're either doing something that's not giving you fulfilment and is depleting you, you're doing something not congruent with your goals and values, or you're eating, sleeping and exercising incorrectly. OR you have just been watching way too much Netflix.
- Delete the apps. Apps are a killer. They are designed to keep you in, addicted and to compare your life to others. Delete the apps. Try it for a week. You will soon realise that they aren't adding much value to your life and you will be a lot happier as a result of it. If you can't delete them for whatever reason. You should set some time restrictions through the settings on your phone. This here could make you feel a whole lot better.
- Write down your thoughts. When you have those bad days or weeks, it's essential to write it all down. Let it pour out. Don't worry about punctuation or structure. The point is to figure out exactly what's going on in your mind and in your life. If you don't write it down, you allow your mind to wander, and your imagination to think of all sorts of idiotic, worst-case scenarios, false information or things that don't even exist at all. Writing down your thoughts and problems allows you to become more factual, realistic and logical. There's something magical about writing out a problem. When you begin writing it out, you start figuring out how to resolve the issue. The magic of writing it down is you can now see your problem objectively and see what's really going on. When it's written down, it creates a space between you and the paper - and now the solutions can begin to grow.
- Take a break. We live in a society where we are so obsessed with go, go, go. If you have been non-stop, you just need to listen to the body and take a break. Change your environment, get out of the office, get off your phone and reconnect with yourself and the world. Despite the last week of November being the busiest time of the year for I Love Ugly, I took Tuesday off to go fishing, didn't turn my phone on all day and was a happier man as a result of it. A day later, I'm back on track.
It's essential to write down ideas and precisely what you are doing and eating when your life is going great as it will allow you to be that person more consistently. The problem with not liking yourself is it's the only person you can't get away from so you may as well work harder on this person than anything or anybody else. Focusing on your weaknesses and the frustration of a bad day will distract you from your purpose and only give you more of them.
If you want to think big and do things that shift the game, you need to go against the grain and have tricks up your sleeve to obliviate those sour weeks. What comes with being a game-changer is a lot of bad days and challenging weeks.
You need to do things that other people are scared about or disregard (like my list above) and not let fear get in your way. Other people and society have certain rules. A lot of these rules are designed to keep us in a box, on our phones, keep us safe from embarrassment, avoid us from taking risks or even feeling bad. Don't buy into that.
You need to look above these rules. Don't think safety, think progress. Don't think easy, think fulfilling. Don't think just about today, think about the future.
Tell yourself that it’s ok to be a big-picture thinker and do things as a contrarian would. Tell yourself it’s ok to experience a bump in the road, because tomorrow you're going to get back on your path.
All of a sudden things will begin opening up. Opportunities. Epiphanies. Solutions to problems. A ton of energy and enthusiasm. Perspective on more significant issues and a wave of confidence that will enable you to achieve and become somebody that you would not have imagined or someone that others admire. The mind is like any computer. You just need to figure out how the software works. There's plenty of information out there. You just need to learn the code of what works for you.
I genuinely hope this article gives you some value. When things are a struggle, I always try to do something creative, as it counters the feeling of indulging in self-pity. A few days ago, I designed a rug for our June 2020 collection next year as we are starting to broaden our product category as our demographic expands. Here’s what the rug said, which almost reads like a poem:
Someone said creativity takes courage.
Someone said there's more power in telling little than telling all.
Someone said focusing on your weakness distracts you from your purpose.
Someone said life is different for everybody.
Someone said you need to go from being a needer to a feeder.
Someone said failing is ordinary. Raising up, again and again, is extraordinary.
Someone said that it's not the eyes that see things, it’s the mind.
Someone said it’s better to love ugly than have ugly love.
Someone said you don't get rich by owning things.
Someone said that one of the most powerful lessons to learn is to figure out what to do in the situations that seem to have no solutions.
Someone said you have to figure out how to work hard without burning out.
Someone said one of the best ways to be creative is by hanging out with people that are more creative than you.
Someone said the best quality questions give you the best quality answers.
Someone said you first get attention, then you go through some criticism, then you get the admiration and the love.
I hope this article helps and adds some value to your day. Please do me a favour and share with anybody that needs to read it. It gives me energy knowing this written work is helping people.