It’s okay for it to suck.
You wake up in the morning feeling bleh. You go through your usual rituals, but they don’t get you in your usual positive mood. You go through the motions of your day-to-day and just can’t get yourself motivated. You don’t feel like you could write a masterpiece today, or even finish up the loose ends on your to-do list.
You’re just plain unhappy. And life sucks, if you think about it more closely.
So what’s a girl to do when she feels like cuddling up in bed and hiding from the world for a day? (Well, you could do just that.)
There are a few things that I have discovered that help me get through the suck without beating myself up or worrying whether my bad feelings have ginormous meaning and I’ll have to change EVERYTHING about my life tomorrow.
Here’s what I figured.
The gentle suck day survival kit
Honor the suck. Pretending that something doesn’t suck and telling yourself that you shouldn’t feel this way won’t do a damn thing. It’ll just make you feel guilty and make the day suck even worse.
Whenever I have a suck day, I acknowledge that it’s there, and that it doesn’t make much sense to try and psyche myself up about the joys of life. Because if it’s a suck day, I’m feeling bad about mostly everything, and all the sunshine and optimism in the world won’t do the trick. Trying to convince yourself it’s all good is disrespectful. You’ll know you’re fooling yourself and will lose trust, because obviously, you’re not willing to take care of yourself when you need to.
Take real good care of yourself. When you notice that you’re feeling generally unhappy and unmotivated, it’s important to honor those feelings. How do you do that? You go easy on yourself. You let go of the big ambitions you had for the day and focus on what you need to do to take care of yourself in the moment.
This could mean lying in bed for the next two hours, or reading a book, or watching some bad TV. Maybe it was just a small rush of suck and you’ll be back to normal afterwards. Maybe it’ll take another day of doing the absolute minimum amount of work before you’re recovered.
Also keep in mind that taking care of your work can be a form of self-care too. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our peace of mind, is to crank out some work and meet the deadlines so when you decide to crush into bed, you can do so without guilt.
Don’t fix yourself. It’s okay if it still sucks. You might pull out all your self-care tricks and still feel like shit. When I’m in that place, I often can’t help but think: “If I’m giving myself this free time right now, I better enjoy it! Why don’t I feel like doing all the fun things I usually don’t have time for?”
Well, because you’re in a bad mood. And bad moods are just as much a part of life as the good ones. Life can’t always be rainbows and unicorns, and you can’t be happy 24/7. If you were, it would feel stale and boring after a while.
Remember one of those times when you left a time of suck behind you and suddenly all was well in the world? The tea you had in the morning was just marvelous, you’re feeling grateful about your work and in awe of the freedom you’ve created for yourself. Those waves of gratitude and love often come after a period of darkness, whether that’s an hour or a week. Trust in that.
I am writing this to you as I’m cuddled up in my cozy bed, with my glass of fresh water next to me and the morning sun shining in through the shutter.
I’m enjoying my morning ritual, consciously starting into this new day. Every weekday, I wake up and for the first two hours, I only do what feels really good to do. I’ll check my mood to see if I want to take a shower, light some candles, read a book or do yoga. Today I felt a strong urge to write, to let my ideas flow out on paper and see which form they would take.
So as we’ve sat down to have this exchange of ideas, from my fingertips to your computer screen, let me share some thoughts on morning rituals with you.
I have always been intrigued by the idea of having a ritual, a conscious way to start the day. I envisioned it to be blissful stillness, waking up early and slowly setting the tone for the day.
So the day I sat down to create my own morning ritual, my thoughts were full of ideas. There were so many things that felt exciting and I wanted to get all of them into my ritual. I scribbled into my notebook, played around with the order of things et voilà, I had my first morning ritual planned.
It looked a little something like this:
6:30 wake up, get ready
6:45 have breakfast
7:15 do yoga
The next morning, I woke up excited and eager to try out my new ritual. But instead of it being a source of quiet and peace, I started to feel stressed out rather soon. I wanted it to be perfect, and I thought sticking to my self-proclaimed timetable was what perfection looked like. It didn’t feel expanding like I had imagined, it felt rather… constricting.
I tried it a couple more times and felt like a failure each time it didn’t work out. I went back to the drawing board a few times, committed to better my ritual and create the perfect one for myself.
But I couldn’t omit the fact that it made me feel stressed instead of blissful, so after a while, I naturally grew out of it and simply started my days with a breakfast, and immediately went to work afterwards.
Still, I clenched my teeth whenever I read about someone’s perfectly blissful mornings and wished I could have what they had.
Months went by and I forgot about my desire for blissful mornings and rituals. I was getting good at switching into work mode early, and my mornings became my most productive time of the day.
Though this may sound like a success, it didn’t feel like one. I found it hard to switch back into relaxation mode in the afternoon and dragged my work out until the evening. Sometimes it felt as if my workday never ended. I became obsessed with my desire to be productive, to be a hard worker, to prove that I could make this business happen.
Somewhere along the way, I lost my zest for life. Everyday felt like a scheduled to-do list. There was no room for joy, play and spontaneity. There certainly wasn’t much bliss anymore.
Of course I felt it, but I was so caught up in that reality, that it was hard to imagine life to feel any other way.
One evening I told Ev`Yan about my feelings towards my work days, letting her know how exhausted I was. She suggested that I try a morning ritual for the next seven days.
For the next seven days I explored what a morning ritual could look like for me. I made no plans, no timetables, and didn’t put much thought into it at all. I just woke up and did what I felt like doing. On most days that included a short meditation, journaling and some writing. Sometimes I’d want to start working early, some days I wouldn’t.
It was all very free and fluid and helped me get centered before I moved into my day. Waking up I’d ask myself “What would feel really good to do now?” I’d smile as I’d easily come up with an answer, and then spent my first 1-2 hours doing that. Doing so has given me so much of my joy back. I no longer wake up panicking about my to-do list. I wake up excited, knowing that I’m about to take really good care of myself before I enter my work day.
If you are giddy to play around with your own morning ritual, here are some of the lessons I learned while crafting mine:
Over planning is a joy killer. The first time around I tried to perfect my morning ritual, and created an exact plan of how things ought to be. But I am not a robot; hence I can’t expect myself to have the same needs and wants every single day. Plan for fluidity, and leave it at that.
Trust that you’ll know what you need. In a world that’s obsessed with productivity, it seems like we’re our own greatest enemy, lacking willpower and needing to be whipped into shape. That makes it hard to trust ourselves to know what needs to be done, because it seems like putting ourselves in the driver’s seat of how we spend our time can only end in laziness and procrastination.
Yet I’ve found that when I trust myself to know what needs to be done in the moment, and to let my hungers guide me, I get things done and I enjoy myself more. It takes some relearning to trust your own guidance, but it’s possible and comes with more ease than the traditional approach.
Self-care enables us to do the work. Since I’ve started my morning rituals, I’m more focused when I do my work. That’s because through giving myself the luxury of two hours of play in the morning, I’ve learned to value my time more, and forced myself to really focus and get results when I do my work.
If you find yourself waking up dreading your to-do list and drilling yourself for productivity, maybe crafting your own little morning ritual will give you some of your liveliness back.
If you don’t work from home, I get that it might seem ridiculously out of reach to spend the first two hours of your day playing. That’s okay. Nobody said that your unique ritual has to be two hours long for you to feel the effects. If you only have 15 minutes, make it 15 minutes.
What if we didn’t have to push so hard all the time? What if we could go easy on ourselves, and still get shit done?
When I entered the world of personal development, it got clear pretty quickly that working your ass off to achieve your dream is expected. You can wear burnout as a pledge of honor.
“I’m so tired, I got home from work last night and then worked on my business until 2am. That’s what you gotta do.”
I absorbed this thought system and quickly became one of the many overworked, busy women who’s always on the lookout for the next thing to cross off her to-do list, not allowing herself any kind of pleasure along the way. I had successfully taken on the “I just need to push through until I get there, you don’t understand, worried friends” perspective.
It dawned on me that I wasn’t really happier than I used to be before I decided I wanted a life full of happiness & meaning. This thought was so painful, that I kept it at bay by putting even more things on my to-do list. I had gotten into personal development because it looked like a way of life that made sense, one where we create lives we love and become the best version of ourselves. The thought that this might not be possible was so devastating to everything I believed in that I rejected it immediately and pretended everything was fine.
After a while, it became so apparent that I wasn’t happy that even I couldn’t ignore it anymore. When I woke up in the morning, I didn’t want to get out of bed because the pressure of my to-do list was looming me. And that not wanting to get out of bed thing? Was what got me rethinking my life and turning to personal development in the first place.
I was lost and confused and didn’t really know who to turn to, because maybe there was something wrong with me and everybody else didn’t suffer as much?
If you’ve started working towards your dream full of hope and ambition, and now find yourself exhausted along the way, I’m with you.
Let me tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, I now believe it’s the dumbest way to do things.
I want you to know that you’re not alone, and that it’s possible to create the life you want for yourself without sacrificing joy in the present. Killing yourself now doesn’t equal rewards in the future. It means unhappiness now, and nothing else.
I get it, I’ve been there. I know how heartbreaking it is to feel like you’re not getting anywhere, even though you’re doing your best and working so hard.
Let me tell you this:
You don’t have to push so hard all the time.
You can go easy on yourself and still make progress.
You can take time to let go and relax, in fact it’s gonna help you get shit done.
Can you believe me when I say that? I used to cringe at statements like these. I thought working myself into exhaustion was a necessary part of my commitment. Now I’ve experienced for myself that there’s another way.
Guess what, I’m enjoying myself a lot more. And I’m also moving forward faster than I used to when I spent all my time in front of my laptop.
Think on these things. Just let them ruminate in your mind for a while. If you have questions, ask me. Let’s see if we can bust through the old rules of achievement and find a way that’s more joy filled together.
Listen to your intuition. It’s your greatest asset.
One of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves is to learn how to trust our intuition. It’s also one of the most powerful things we can do.
I believe that our gut feelings, those soft impulses of knowing, come directly from our soul. It’s her way of communicating with us.
Yet often we ignore our feelings and turn to our rational mind when it comes to making decisions. We hope that if we just think hard enough we’ll make the best decision. Maybe the right one, even.
This approach works okay for most people, but it falls short when we start to blaze our own trail and go after our dreams. Our minds don’t process the uncertainty and possibility that come with it very well.
When I decided I wanted to be a life coach, there was no rational reason for that. I had never coached anyone before. I was on my way to getting a degree in media + politics. There was not much evidence that I was gonna be a great coach, or could even make a living from it. But there was this gut feeling. Something inside me felt that I would enjoy coaching, and that it could be one way to use my talents to make a difference. It felt oh-so-right.
I decided to trust that feeling, I asked friends if I could coach them for free. They said yes. It turns out that I thrive when I’m coaching, that it gives me energy to see a client gain new perspectives around who she is. And after six months of learning and practice, I had my first paying client. Soon after, Jacob asked me if I wanted to work as a coach for Sensophy.
Who knew? And that’s exactly the point. There is no way that my mind could have come up with a plan that included all these wonderful twists and turns that lead me to where I am today. Yet my intuition knew that this was a seed worth planting, and that’s why it made me feel the longing to become a coach.
Whether you’re just at the beginning of your journey of self-discovery or have already manifested parts of your dream, I want you to take the leap and start listening to your intuition. It might be a bit quiet in the beginning as it may not be used to such attention. Your rational mind might plant all kinds of doubts in you because it’s used to being the only one. That’s okay.
Would you be up for a little experiment? For the next seven days, try to listen in when making decisions in your life. When you’re at the grocery store pondering whether you should buy the Oreos or get some bananas, check in to see if you’re gut is speaking up. When you’re thinking about what you want your future to look like, see if you’re belly has a preferred option.
This doesn’t have to be a rigid practice, just something small you can do to get your intuition to wake up and see what it has to tell you.
I want to help you get a feel for your intuition. Tell me, what is your experience listening to your intuition? Do you have any doubts, fears, raised eyebrows? Let me know and I’ll see if I can help you.
Don’t be realistic when it comes to the size of your dream. But be realistic about how fast you can get there, about the necessary steps along the way.
You’ve found someone who has done what you wanna do, who’s living your dream. You stand in awe as to what they have created, feeling inspired and empowered as you see proof that it’s possible, that they have succeeded. Then you turn around and look at your current reality and you notice the massively wide gap between where you are and what you aspire to achieve. It’s disheartening.
You have such a big, beautiful vision of the future that you almost can’t bare to look at what you’ve created so far. You hate how it shows with brutal honesty how much still needs to happen before you’ll even get close to your goal.
The thing is, you want that vision. And you want it now. You don’t wanna deal with the fumbling around that is the beginning; you’d much rather turn pro and be a success right away.
You wanna skip the fucking journey, and arrive at the destination already.
I get it. I’ve been there (like, yesterday).
That’s what happened to me over the course of this summer. I have a big vision for where I want this blog and business to go, what it would feel like, and what I’d be able to do with it once I’ve reached “the destination”.
Whenever I had a look at my current situation, I just couldn’t help but be turned off. “This is not what I want”, I thought “I want it to be more like that (insert business of superhero chica)”. Now what would have been the better thing to do in that moment? It would have been to take an honest look at the gap between our vision and our reality, and start taking action to close that gap.
Instead, I put down my head in shame, embarrassed as to why my business wasn’t as awesome as superhero chica’s biz. I hated being a beginner and I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. So I procrastinated, and ignored the fact that I had a blog with readers who were expecting new posts.
One summer night my boyfriend and I were having dinner in a tiny hotel restaurant. I fumbled around with my wine glass and looked down at the table while I opened up and shared my frustrations about my business with him. He looked at me with a raised eyebrow and said, “So you want it all, and you want it now. It’s like you’re aiming to be at level 50 when you’re only at level 5. How about you start being okay with where you are and just focus on getting to the next level?”.
Truthbomb, gently dropped. He was right.
So, here’s the lesson:
We can’t expect ourselves to zoom straight to success right from the beginning. If we look at our role models, it took time for them to get to where they’re at now. Instead of being intimidated by their success, we can look to them for inspiration as to how we can move into our own vision, step-by-step.
It doesn’t make sense to stay in that place of doubt and procrastination, and to resist our current situation. We’ll never get to level 50 if we’re not comfortable looking at our current status at level 5. We just have to figure out how to get to the next level. And then the next. That’s how they’ve done it, too. So trust that you’re right where you need to be, and move forward with courage, celebrating every level along the way.
That’s what I’ll be doing from now on.
To my readers, the old and the new: My apologies for not taking better care of you. I’m so grateful that you’re still hanging out with me. Here’s to climbing to the next level together (that’s gonna involve weekly blog posts again -hooray!).
- "This Is Too Big for Me" – No, It's Not. Here's How to Beat the Odds
- Too Much to Do Too Little Time: How to Get Off The Hamster Wheel
- How to Escape A Life That Bores You to Death
- Unhappiness 101
- Why You Need to Live Your Dreams to Make Your Life Meaningful (spoiler alert: you will die)
- How to Do What You Love, Change the World & Get Paid to Do it
- 10 Life Lessons Learned on a Trip to the End of the World
- What to Do When Everything Plain Sucks: A Gentle Suck-Day Survival Kit
- The Beauty of a Morning Ritual: How it Can Help You Get Your Joy Back
- Burnout Is Not Cool. I Know You’re Serious About Your Dream, But Stop Killing Yourself Over It.
- Listen to your intuition. It trumps your rational mind.
- You can’t skip the fucking journey (& why I haven’t been blogging as much)