The Wishing Game: A Simple Game With no ‘Happily Ever After’

The Wishing Game A Simple Game With no 'Happily Ever After'- the wishing game“I wish I had a better job.”

“I wish I was leaner.”

“I wish I was a ladies man.”

“I wish I had more money.”

“I wish I could live somewhere else”.

“I wish I was a better writer.”

“I wish I was more creative.”

“I wish my business was as profitable as ‘such & such’.”

“I wish I was as popular as ‘such & such’.”

“I wish I had more followers.”

At some point in time throughout my life, those exact words have blurted out of my mouth. Each time I’ve uttered such things, nothing manifested besides moments of self-defeatism, sadness, resentment towards others, and furthering myself from where I wanted to be in life.

At some point in time, you most likely have blurted out the phrase ‘I wish’. You most likely noticed that wishing didn’t propel you any closer to your goals than you initially were.

While on a date to go see ‘Into the Woods’ (an excellent musical I must admit), I was reminded that wishes don’t always equate to being ‘happily ever after’.

Each character in the movie is wishing for a different outcome. Once it arrives, each character expects everything to magically change for the better.

I suffered from this symptom for the majority of my life. However, each character and myself realizes that ‘happily ever after’ isn’t so happy after all. In fact, each character faces the consequences for their wishes and actions.

Cinderella realizes the royal life isn’t all its cracked up to be along with her Prince Charming not being so charming after all. The baker is worried that he’ll be a crappy father to his newborn, just as his father was. He also has to face the repercussions of handing over his ‘magic beans’ to Jack. Rapunzel is terrified of the outside world. The witch, with her reacquired youth realizes that she has lost most of her powers.

I thought life was going to magically change once I added 20 pounds of muscle—nothing happened besides needing to go shopping (self-doubt was still with me).

I thought life would change once I got to 10% bodyfat—it didn’t, I just developed some false bravado.

I thought life would change once I started to get published, it didn’t, I just wanted more & more (self-doubt was with me).

What does all of this mean?

These were all external scenarios. These goals allowed me to build up extra layers, but inside is where we grow as a person. Inside is where the healing takes place. Inside is where the mindset reshapes.

Those goals of losing fat, building muscle, writing a book, and starting a business can be life changing. But, often times, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to our desires. While I wanted to lose fat, what I really wanted was to feel more confident within my own skin and feel like I was someone.

Perhaps you want to lose fat or reach some arbitrary number. That number most likely isn’t what will change your life. What will change your life is the feeling of accomplishing that goal and the confidence in yourself.

A number is just a number.

numbers-the wishing game
Photo Credit: Curtis Gregory Perry via Compfight cc

A number won’t change us, but the process of reaching that number can change us if we are aligned with the correct intent.

When it comes to stating what we want, it’s imperative we make these declarations from a place of intent that comes from within and isn’t influenced by external forces.

Sometimes our wishes are not exactly ours, but it’s our ego telling us what we should want. It’s letting outside forces such as our peers, media, and conventional life expectations dictate to us. Letting our ego & external influences be the basis of our decision making isn’t ideal nor will it allow us to ever experience true happiness and be our unapologetic authentic selves.

Getting your wishes granted doesn’t lead to all your problems in life being smoothed over. Those rough patches are still present and the demons are still lurking.

Just because I was physically fit doesn’t mean that my self-confidence followed suit. Just because I was published doesn’t mean my self-doubt was erased. Your promotion, number of internet friends, nor clothes won’t heal your confidence or whatever else is brewing inside.

 The only way to heal a wound is to directly address it. There is no avoiding it or patching it up.

The wishing game can be fun and motivating, but be mindful of where those hopes and dreams are stemming from.

Are those wishes what you really want? Are you making those wishes in hopes of concealing a deeper wound? Are these wishes ego driven and stem from a place to prove a point to others or keep up with others? Are these wishes your families, friends, significant others, or influenced by the media?

Take some time to think and ask yourself, “Is this what I really want and why do I want this?”

Are your recent wishes what you truly want or have you been wishing what you think you’re supposed to be wanting? If the latter, what are you going to do about it?

The Seismic Effect of Establishing Fitness Rituals

To make real change, you have to be well anchored – not only in the belief that it can be done, but also in some pretty real ways about who you are and what you can do.- Twyla Tharp

fitness rituals

American dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp, author of The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life‘ states that “creativity is about establishing habits & rituals, not some god given ability that only a select few can have”. For years, she has used the same ritual to start her day and increase productivity.

 “I begin each day of my life with a ritual: I wake up at 5:30 a.m., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours.

The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual”

Establishing rituals isn’t just limited to creatives. Your fitness ritual isn’t performing the sets of squats or walking into the gym—it’s the behavior of starting the entire process of going to the gym—the small, overlooked, but important action at the beginning.

What’s a ritual & why is it important?

A ritual is a habit that is triggered by a specific behavior you perform. Establishing a ritual eliminates the option of you deciding if you want to do this activity or not.

A ritual “is a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it—it makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about” states Tharp.

Tharp states “It’s vital to establish some rituals—automatic but decisive patterns of behavior—at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way.”

Just as creatives need a ritual to keep themselves align during their work sessions, it’s vital that you develop a ritual to ignite your exercise habit. There will be days where you don’t feel like working out nor cooking healthy meals.

As Tharp states “First steps are hard; it’s no one’s idea of fun to wake up in the dark every day and haul one’s tired body to the gym. Like everyone, I have days when I wake up, stare at the ceiling, and ask myself, Gee, do I feel like working out today? But the quasi-religious power I attach to this ritual keeps me from rolling over and going back to sleep.”

We know rituals are powerful, but how can we go about the process of establishing a ritual from scratch. Let’s take a step by step run through of establishing an initial ritual.

The process of establishing successful rituals

“The most productive artists I know have a plan in mind when they get down to work. They know what they want to accomplish, how to do it, and what to do if the process falls off track. But there’s a fine line between good planning and overplanning. You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work.”- Twyla Tharp

At the beginning, your main objective is to get going, no matter how ugly or awkward it might feel. Develop a simple plan and then go from there in terms of making adjustments. Something is better than nothing and starting is everything. Here’s the ‘Nuts’N’bolts‘ method to starting a ritual.

1. Start small and lower your expectations
The worse thing you can do is overload yourself with steps and expectations of an outcome.

Instead, make these beginning steps easy. These steps should almost feel effortless. Be easy on yourself for any slip ups. Decide where you are in life with your habits and start from there. Run away from the all or none mentality.

Aim for small day to day victories. Small actions add up to become large wins. These small actions build daily momentum, allowing you to carry momentum onto the next phase of your rituals. Confidence comes from doing.

fitness rituals
One step at a time.-Photo Credit: wecand via Compfight cc

2. Develop a process for your desired behavior
The tougher the barrier of entry, the less likely you are to stick with it for the long term. The tougher the barrier, the more reliance on willpower (a brief and fleeting asset).

Make the process of entry into your ritual simple and concise by limiting the process to 3-4 steps for activation.

3. Schedule and commit to your ritual to condition your behavior
Anything of importance to your life needs to be scheduled into your calendar. If you ‘play your goals by ear’, they’ll never become a priority and you’ll consistently land mediocre results. The high achievers in fitness, art, and music make their work a priority in their lives.

If you don’t make yourself a priority, don’t expect anyone else to make you one.

4. Know what’s your signal to trigger your ritual
When does your ritual begin? What’s the ignition to you getting into your activity?

For Twyla, the ritual was the cab itself—telling the driver where to go. For me, I set my timer, have a bottle of water, coffee or tea, & hit play on my playlist—now I automatically understand its time to write.

A ritual for waking up in the morning would be the ringing of your alarm clock. Deciding what your ritual for exercising, sleeping, reading, cooking, or anything else is going to be is entirely up to you.

5. Experiment with different methods of preparation until you find the magic combination
First and foremost, have fun with the process. There’ll be some bumps along the road at the beginning when establishing a ritual. You’ll only find the perfect steps by doing and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Let’s take a look at some example rituals

I highly recommend that you experiment with your own methods to find the perfect combination.

Working out– The best way to set up an exercise ritual is to place it around a time with the least amount of resistances. Try setting up a fitness ritual first thing in the morning before any work related material is given attention. Alternatively, pack your gym clothes and exercise after work or during your lunch break. If you’re lifting in the afternoon or evening, place it on your schedule so nothing sneaks it’s way onto that specific time slot.

Sleeping– Start a preparation ritual 60-90 minutes out. Here are a couple ideas…
● Eliminate caffeine hours earlier (Ex. Zero consumption after 2pm)
● shut off the PC an minimum of 1 hour before bedtime. (I recommend this software(flux) for nights this isn’t possible)
● No tv or playing on the phone 60 minutes before bedtime
● Keep your room dark as possible
● Eliminate as many electronics from your room as possible
● Meditate for 10-15 minutes
● Have sex
● Invest in tinted shades if you have to use electronics at night

Waking up– Besides having the alarm clock, try these options.
● Have a morning wake up song (I wake up each morning and dance for 5-15 min before doing anything else. Here’s a couple favorites, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Skipworth & Turner (listen to extended play if you really want to wake up, Jamiroquai)
● Do a couple of pushups and squats to wake yourself up

Don’t overload yourself and attempt an overhaul on all facets of your life. Choose one area and focus on it for a bit until it becomes easy peasy.

What’s an area of your life that could benefit from establishing a ritual?

Be the tortoise: Slow & Steady Always Wins Out In Fitness

slow and steady always wins out in fitness
Image by Christine Wagner

When I was a young and naive college boy desperately in search of muscles—I tried various workout routines.

I wanted attention grabbing arms with jaw dropping abs. I thought this would instantly make me a ladies man.

It didn’t.

Muscle and fitness magazines promised me a new body in 4 weeks.

I woke up on the 5th week and looked the same.

Various supplement companies seduced me into buying their products—promising me insane strength and progress.

All I had to show for it was stomach aches and overdraft charges.

I tried to shortcut my fitness.

Nothing resulted from it besides depression, a crappy social life, and feelings of defeat.

If you’re anything like me, odds are you want to excel in life and fitness. Patience isn’t the strongest suit, especially in today’s world of ‘overnight Instagram transformations’ and ‘overnight rags to riches stories’. Those click bait stories cause us to make irrational decisions and marginalize ourselves.

What goes unnoticed in a overnight success story is how hard those individuals had to work for that particular moment of glory.

Many of the writers, celebrities, and everyday fitness people we look up to, at one point—were down on their luck and felt lost. They didn’t wake up the next day and magically transform themselves. They put their head down and went to work with the goal of winning that particular day.

Just as the tortoise stays his course and approaches the race methodically against the hare—you need to do the same with your fitness goals.

Slow and steady always wins the race

One of the key ingredients to success in life and fitness is to stay persistent with your actions. Far too often, we have a tendency to quit if the fruits of our labor doesn’t appear rapidly.

Fat doesn’t immediately come off just as companies don’t immediately become billion dollar empires. It took months to acquire the weight you want to vanish; therefore, you need to expect months to rid the excess weight off.

The body is only capable of losing so much weight in a given time period.

Don’t let this get you down, but instead let this remove some unneeded stress among yourself. Here are 4 reminders as you go along your slow and steady journey to success in life and fitness.

1. Don’t obsess over the how or when, but focus on your ‘why’

At the beginning of any new endeavor, motivation is high and adrenaline is fueling your actions.

But, after the initial excitement has worn off, people have quit calling about your new endeavor, and life returns to a steady routine—will you stick around to reach the finish line or call it a day?

When the blues and mundaneness of everyday life starts to creep back into your life—remember why you wanted to do all of this at the beginning.

Remember how awesome you’re going to look and feel in your new physique. Remember how the confidence of accomplishing your fitness goals will catapult you into doing great things in other areas of your life.

Just remember.

Write it down somewhere that is visible to you everyday.

Get clear on ‘why’ you want to succeed with your particular fitness goal and nothing will stand in your way.

2. Keep an open mind

Fitness isn’t a dictatorship. Instead, fitness is a choose your own adventure where you decide the rules.

Succeeding in the long term with fitness requires you to find a particular method that fits your desired lifestyle. Slow and steady progress only becomes a problem when you’re miserable throughout the process.

Don’t be afraid to try various eating strategies until you find your sweet spot where it feels effortless.

3. Give doubt the cold shoulder and run away from the haters

Nothing flushes your goals down the toilet quicker than dream killers and negative individuals. If your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors or anyone else is constantly killing your motivation, or disrespecting your aspirations—run the hell away from them!

We’re already our own worst enemies with guilt and self-doubt (especially when we’re trying new endeavors). The last thing we need is more doubters and haters.

Don’t let those kind of people get to you. Some people don’t want to see you succeed because then they’ll have no excuses as to why they can’t get off their ass and be remarkable.

A simple solution is to never hangout with someone who gives you bad feelings in your stomach. If I feel anxious or a heightened sense of uneasiness being around someone—I’ll cut them out of my life.

Is this cold? Maybe, but I love myself and value my time—as should you.

4. Stay in your lane

slow and steady always wins out in fitness

Before you want to accomplish anything in life or fitness, you need a vision. This is important because you have a metric in place everyday to help you make decisions.

If any situation or decision isn’t in alignment with your purpose in fitness and life—don’t do it.

You’ll see gimmicky fitness products promising rapid weight loss in 6 months or 6 figure businesses overnight. If it sounds too good to be true—it probably is.

The more connected and aligned you are with your vision—the easier it’ll be to show up up each day. Sometimes the reason why you aren’t succeeding with a particular goal isn’t because of effort, but instead, because that goal isn’t in alignment with who you are.

If you can’t workout 5 days a week, stop lying to yourself and be honest and go back to 3. If you have trouble with binge eating in social environments, admit this to yourself and prepare beforehand by eating a snack at home.

Just remember to stay focused and slow and steady will take you to the promise land.

Do you have trouble staying patient? If so, what’s one thing you’re doing to work on this?