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The 3 Things That Will Give You Stronger-Than-Iron Man Self-Esteem

The 3 Things That Will Give You Stronger-Than-Iron Man Self-Esteem

Iron Man is pretty strong (and generally incredible), so I’ll admit this is a bold statement. But, I’m a bold guy. My self-esteem really is that strong, so why wouldn’t I be that bold? I can only tell you what worked for me. This absolutely, unequivocally worked for me. And if it worked for me, why not you?

I used to want people to like me. Like, I really wanted them to. It felt nice to be liked. I felt like I belonged. I felt like it validated me as a person.  The trouble is, I wanted them to like me (and be happy) so much that much of the time it ended up being at my own expense. I’d do things that maybe I didn’t want to do in order for them to be happy and, hopefully, like me. Be friends with me. And perhaps we would be “friends”, yes… but the whole friendship would be based on me trying to make them happy. The energy would only flow one way. I’m sure you’ll agree this probably isn’t the best recipe for lasting friendship, even though that’s what (I thought) I wanted.

I never used to be able to decide which sock to put on first. OK, maybe that’s not entirely true, but the important decisions always seemed to come down to what someone else said over my own view. I’d sort of know what decision I wanted to make, but I’d talk to other people (my parents, mainly) about it as if I were seeking their permission. And if they didn’t quite agree, then I probably wouldn’t do it. And then I’d get pissed off that I couldn’t do what I really wanted to, because I wasn’t being “allowed’”. Crazy, right? I’m sure you’ve been there too, though.

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I thought I needed confidence. I thought “if only I were more confident, I could do whatever I wanted!” But it was a bit deeper than that, as these things often are. It was that I thought other people’s decisions were more important and better than my own. Like I somehow wasn’t good enough. That I didn’t deserve to make that decision. That I wasn’t “allowed”. In other words, I lacked self-esteem.

I actually didn’t realize this until I had self-esteem, and I don’t want that to happen to you, so here’s how you build stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem. Let’s do this:

1. Make a list of what’s important to you

Sit down. Turn off the TV. Get some paper and a pen. Or a laptop. Or a tablet. Or carve it into a wooden table. I just want to ask you one question: what’s important to you about life? Now start writing. Write anything and everything that comes to mind. Even if it surprises you. Even if you don’t really want it to be on there. If it comes to mind, write it down. There are no rules here. Keep writing. Keep writing some more. Write until there’s nothing else left to write. There’s no time limit on this; take as long as you want.

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2. Put them in order

What’s the absolute most important thing to you about life? What is so vital that you couldn’t live without it? What else is extremely important? You don’t have to order every single thing that’s written down. Some of them will probably group together anyway, if they’re similar. Write down a top 5 if that will help. Or a top 3. Or a top 10. Remember: there are no rules. These are your values. This is your life. Whatever works for you here, do that. Just make sure they’re in an order that feels absolutely right for you. Stop being embarrassed and stop thinking of anyone else when you’re doing this. Again: these are YOUR values, and this is YOUR life.

When you look at this list, you should feel calm. Confident. Happy. Excited. Intrigued, maybe. Surprised, possibly. But deep down, you know it’s right, and you know this is who you are.

To make this even more powerful, for each thing that’s truly important to you, write down why it’s important to you.

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3. Act

Now you know what’s important to you. You know what the most important thing in your life is. You know what kind of life you want. You know who you really are. You know what decisions to make because you know what’s important, what’s more important, and what’s most important. You know you have no excuses to not do what you want now. Because now you know when you’re doing something that’s not aligned with who you are, so why are you doing it? Are you scared? Are you trying to impress someone?

The thing that builds lasting, permanent, stronger-than-Iron Man self esteem is acting on what’s important to you. Doing this shows you trust yourself. It shows you listen to yourself. That you want the best for yourself. That you respect yourself. That you love yourself. Isn’t that what you want? Isn’t that what everyone wants?

What having stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem will do for you

It will give you confidence. It will give you strength. You’ll stand up for yourself. You’ll know what you want. You’ll care less and less about what others think because you know what you think and what you want is the most important thing in the word. You love yourself. You’re proud of yourself. You realise that you – yes, you – are awesome. You don’t let others affect your mood or who you are. You make decisions. The right decisions. You know you’re allowed to have what you want. You know you deserve what you want. And you set an early alarm, you jump out of bed, and you spend every day trying to get it.

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As always, I’ll leave you with some questions, ‘cause I’m generous like that:

On your list of everything that’s important to you, are you even on it?

When you have stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem, what will you do?

If you lack self-esteem (like I did), will you use this article to help? Or will you, knowing that doing the things I asked will absolutely help, ignore it?

Featured photo credit: JD Hancock via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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