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After another weekend of indulging in food, drinks, and TikTok, Sunday blues were hitting extra hard. I knew I had to wake up early Monday morning, grind on all of the assignments I had put off, and the next weekend the cycle would repeat. I was becoming stressed, and it was only the beginning of the semester! Looking for anything to yell at me to get it together, I scrolled through the “motivational” section on my Kindle. That’s when I picked up Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop. I figured that applied to me and my self-sabotaging habits. I was totally right. This fast easy read did highlight my insecurities, taught me to take accountability, and inspired me to start that very moment. Not just restart Monday. The stages this book takes you through are:
Willingness, Action, and Letting go of expectations
Are you willing to continue living the exact same way you are now?
This book jumps right in, asking you how willing are you to make the changes necessary to live the life you want. Humans by nature are designed to seek comfort above all else. We may think we are happy when in reality we are just comfortable. I asked myself, what habits do I continue to do that aren’t in my best interest?
For example, I know if I go to a kickboxing class early in the morning, I will feel great for the rest of the day. Therefore, I have to be unwilling to keep hitting the snooze button. I found it more useful to use the phrase “I am unwilling” rather than “willing.” It’s more inspiring to hear “I am unwilling to spend my whole weekend partying” instead of “I am willing to spend my weekends productively” because it holds me accountable to the habits I am letting go of (also that doesn’t sound appealing). The other side is too easy to ignore or put off until next weekend. Making a list of all the things you are unwilling to live with, is the first step in inspiring you to create real change.
Some examples: I am unwilling to miss my workouts for an extra snooze button. I am unwilling to leave an assignment to the very last minute. I am unwilling to lower my standards for people. I am unwilling to continue overeating. I am unwilling to spend my whole weekend drinking and sleeping when I have things to do that will make me confident.
It can be any habit you do, that you want to break.
This book is easy to apply to any aspect of your life. I used it to define how I want my week to look, how I want to have discipline at the gym, and how I want to be treated by other people. When you identify what is holding you back in life, you are creating higher standards for yourself, and this will shine through with confidence.
“I am not my thoughts, I am what I do”
What I loved about this book is the emphasis it places on action. Too many podcasts and books at the moment that focus on self-improvement, tell you to change your thoughts. How it’s your thoughts and inner happiness that can change your life. That’s not true for most people. Bishop harshly told me, “you are not your thoughts, you are what you do”. And he’s right. For so long, I have been a talker. I talk about all the things I want to do, that I know I can do, but put off for later. But when is it later? Motivation comes occasionally, but it’s not going to be there every day. Everyday habits are not created by motivation. Action doesn’t need motivation, it only needs you to be willing enough to change.
It’s important to understand why actions are more important than thoughts. And that is because your confidence comes from who you are and what you do. It’s what fuels your conversations with strangers, and forms connections. Think of all the times you’ve connected with someone; it could have been over a place you both lived, a sport you both enjoy, a job experience or the school you went to. Either way, it was likely over something that you put effort and action into. I personally know that I like hiking and camping. But in order to meet other people with those passions, I have to put myself out there and join groups to broaden my experience, proving to myself that I can take action. This will give you confidence in yourself; when you really start putting action into the things you want to do you won’t feel like a fraud, or a liar, or a talker.
Picture this: you set an alarm to go for an early run. It goes off. Your old self would hit the snooze button. But now, you are going to question yourself and ask, how will I feel if I follow through with this action? You go for it, and you now know you have the inner confidence to do something hard, you push yourself and take control of your emotions. You listened to your head, what was best for you- maybe not what you wanted to do.
Confidence can manifest from the smallest of actions. The action doesn’t need to apply to fitness either. I gained confidence from listening to BBC World News in the morning, instead of spending my morning on Instagram. That small difference made me a little more worldly and a little bit smarter for the day. A good takeaway is to identify what makes you insecure and do a little something every day to make yourself more confident on that topic. Change has to start somewhere.
I also used this book as a tool to regain my independence. I noticed I had become addicted to receiving new messages, something so many of us experience in today’s world where technology and communication are constant. I deleted some of my social media apps during a breakup to take away the pain of absent messages and took my power back. I was no longer willing to look at an empty phone or wait for a message that wasn’t going to come. I decided to use my phone for things like podcasts, and audible books instead.
“I expect nothing and accept everything”
This chapter of the book was definitely talking to me. I have spent more nights crying over failed relationships simply because of expectations that weren’t met. Or nights out with my friends, where things didn’t go as planned, and I was left feeling bleh. Repeating this quote to myself is super important. It’s too easy to tell myself to let go of expectations ( because let’s be honest, they’re usually there anyway) but a friendly reminder that life is flexible is a good thing.
“ Don’t expect victory or defeat. Plan for victory, learn from defeat.”
As much as life is uncertain and flexible, we are in control of how much we work out, what we eat, and the people we allow close to us. Learn what makes you passionate and put your energy towards those things. Any setbacks along the way are new lessons to be learned from. Expecting things to go perfect is unreasonable, and expecting everyone to respect you is unreasonable. Wake up in the morning and do the things that will make you look in the mirror and say I’m proud. Today I moved forward.
The end of this book asks you to place yourself on your deathbed ( I know, dark.) But his point is beautiful. One day we won’t be mad we didn’t succeed, we will be mad we never tried. Because trying is where it all starts. And If you never try, you never know what potential you could have unlocked.
What I Think Is Missing
This book is a shot of adrenaline; At first, you will feel like you can accomplish anything. However, the author makes no mention of having grace with yourself if you miss your actions for a day or even a week. It’s easier said than done to hold yourself accountable for the actions you’ve promised yourself to do. That’s why discipline is important. But there are days when you will have too much school work to go to the gym, or you have a headache and need an extra nap. Maybe it’s your best friend’s birthday on a Tuesday, and you end up going out and didn’t get to the extra studying you wanted. But that’s OK! What’s important to remember is that life is still flexible. Yes, you have goals for yourself but don’t beat yourself up over a missed day. Progress isn’t lost if you continue to get back on track.
Work on yourself, and be kind to yourself.