Yesterday I came home from a long weekend away. The temperature was below zero most of the time I was gone and the icy weather paired with my older, slightly unreliable car created a situation in which I found my car in the exposed airport parking lot, dead. It tried to start but gave up rather quickly. It doesn’t have much heart.
I have to admit, I had a momentary feeling of “why me?” and was in serious danger of slipping over into full-on victim mode. I’m sitting in my frozen car, covered in snow, in a cramped airport parking lot which looks like an abandoned junkyard on Hoth. I always carry jumper cables and have a general idea of how to use them, but without another running car, this sort of preparedness isn’t worth much. Like bringing your iPhone charger on a primitive camping trip. It was looking like I was going to be there for awhile, and after getting up at 3:45 am and enduring air travel with a five-year-old all day, I was pretty close to “my life sucks-ville” and giving up all hope of ever returning.
At this point, I became aware of the sound of a vehicle running nearby. It sounded like a truck or SUV. So I got out of the car and looked around. Right there, literally right in front of me, a white suburban was running. I hadn’t seen it before because my windows were covered with 2 inches of snow. What are the odds? So I walked up to the driver’s window and got the guy’s attention. It was a guy I had seen with his family on the plane. He was letting his vehicle warm up and melt the windows because he had forgotten his window scraper. I happened to have a window scraper (I’m super prepared for winter travel), and he was willing to help me jump my car.
That solution seems pretty simple, right? Obviously, I would ask this guy to help me. I mean, he was in the parking space nose to nose with my car. But, if I would have been wallowing in self-pity, that is where my attention would have been, how much my luck sucked and teary-eyed on my phone calling for help rather than observing my surroundings. I would have been completely focused on all of the things that were going wrong and all of the reasons why I was a victim, sparing no thought toward how I could help myself.
This sort of victimhood mindset is wasteful thinking. Being stuck and helpless, waiting for someone to come and save you is a choice, princess. Even when you’ve done everything you can reasonably be expected to do (I mean, I had jumper cables) and you’re still stuck, pull up your big girl panties and figure it out. Use your brain power for something that is actually going to help you. Be creative and observant. There might be a solution right in front of you, but if you are wasting your brain power on feeling sorry for yourself, you are unlikely to notice it.
You can use this empowered attitude to help you in your own life. Think about your goals. Whatever your goal is, you will have reasons to give up on it. Loads of them. Some days you will have more reasons to quit than you have to keep going. If you are looking for reasons why you can’t do something or why this just isn’t working out, you will definitely find them. Personal responsibility is hard. Blaming outside influences for failure is easy. Own your choices.
If you can identify a self-defeating attitude and stop it before you fall over the edge into despair, you can do anything. Literally anything! You are not too old to change your career path. You can eat a healthy diet even though you are on the go all of the time. You can become successful because you are not stuck where you are.
All you have to do is stop the B.S.! (That’s short for Belief System, by the way.) Change your thinking and you can change your life. Be brave and think big.
Sometimes you will have to do things outside your comfort zone. These uncomfortable things are probably exactly the things that are holding you back from success. Many times we think uncomfortable things are not possible. We call those limiting beliefs. They start with “I can’t because…” and end with “I don’t know how, I’m not smart enough, I have responsibilities elsewhere…” They sound like excuses, right? It’s much easier to stay where you are rather than to risk putting yourself out there. Easy doesn’t get you success.
I would be lying if I said it was comfortable for me to go up to an unfamiliar car’s window and ask a stranger for help. He could have been a creeper, thought I was a creeper, or been unwilling to help. I mean, you have to think about things like this. Sometimes our belief systems are there to protect us. I did think about the safety of my child and myself standing ankle-deep in snow beside my dead car. Then I thought about my main objective and did a quick risk-benefit assessment. My motivation was that I wanted to get home now rather than two hours from now and nothing was going to stop me. So, my best option was to ask a stranger for help.
Recognizing wasteful thinking and stopping it in its tracks will go a long way towards making you successful at practically anything you want to accomplish. It does no good to think about all the reasons why you can’t do something. Instead, look around you, be observant. An obvious solution might be right in front of you. If you stop thinking about why it won’t work, and start thinking about why it will, you are on your way to being wildly successful!