296 – October 23
“Sometimes you have to make the right choices and let your feelings catch up with them.”—Dr. Phil McGraw
We pay too much attention to our feelings. We want to feel like making that cold call before we make it. We want to feel love for our fellow man before we donate to charity. We want to feel joy in our work before we work. When we don’t feel these things, we don’t make the call, love humanity or do the work. But we’ve got it backwards. The feelings we want come after we take the action, not before.
We need to take the action that we know is the right action, regardless of how we feel about it. We can be terrified, angry, humiliated, sad, tired, or depressed, fighting our mental battles against doing what we know to be right, but the end result is that it doesn’t matter how we feel about it, what matters is that we do the right thing.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, they have a wonderful saying about this: “Suit up and show up.” This is the instruction given to newcomers who are struggling with the new practice of being sober. Alcoholics often struggle with emotions that feel overwhelming when they no longer have the alcohol to escape into. If you asked them to “feel like going to an AA meeting” before they went to one, the room would probably be empty. So the instruction is “Suit up and show up”—just get dressed and go. How you feel about it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do it.
When I made the decision that I was powerless over alcohol and became willing to turn my life around, they told me to go to ninety meetings in ninety days. I laughed. “Do you know what my schedule is like?” I asked incredulously. “I run my own business and I’m president of a trade organization. Impossible! Surely my case is different.” They smiled at me beatifically. “This is what you have to do to remain sober,” they told me. “How do you know?” I protested. “We’re sober and you’re not,” they replied. “If you want what we have, you have to do what we do.”
I wanted what they had. I wanted it bad. I went to their damn ninety meetings in ninety days. I didn’t feel like it. But I got sober. I liked that. And I liked how I felt about it after I did it.
To “Suit up and show up” I have added “and shut up.” When I was going to the midnight meeting on Sunset Boulevard, I whined about it. When I had to get up early and make the 7:00 A.M. meeting in Pacific Palisades, I whined about that, too. No one was interested.
Shine the cold, clear light of objective reason on the passage of your life. What’s not in it that you want? Go get it. Forget how you feel now. The good feelings come after you do it. That is the secret of becoming happy, joyous, and free. And rich.
“I am happy, joyous, and rich!”
Years ago, during one of the first Financial Stress Reduction workshops I ever taught, a woman in my class had a very rich “aha!” experience. Susan was an executive recruiter, bright, fun, and with a sense of ease about her. We were discussing how we worked our businesses, and she mentioned that she just worked until she made a good placement for which she was very well paid, and then took time off to play.
“Hmmm,” I thought, “She’s in my class to make more money. I wonder if she just stops herself when she’s made the money she thinks is enough.” So I asked her what she thought would happen if she kept going and maybe made another placement instead of stopping at the first one. Her eyes got big and round and I could tell she hadn’t thought of that before.
“I don’t know!” she exclaimed.
I said, “This week, keep going and see what happens.”
The next week she announced to the class that she made $35,000 that week, and that she had no idea she was capable of making that much money.
I thought of this story one week when I was calling people about my Financial Stress Reduction teleclasses. I had a lot of “maybes” on my list – people I had talked to who were thinking it over, wanted to read more about the details of the class on my web site, check out the testimonials, checking their schedules, etc. I had plenty of people coming – I’m happy and make my budget goals if I get 6 or 7 people in each of the sessions – 10-15 people is fine. So usually, I just stop there…but then I remembered Susan’s story. What might happen if I just made a few more calls to follow up again with the interested parties who hadn’t yet committed?
You guessed it. I enrolled 7 more people, for a total of 22. At $3,000 per person, 7 more people equals another $21,000! I can think of some things to do with that extra money, too – couldn’t you?
What would happen for you and your budget if you just pushed yourself a little harder at the end, that surge of energy that a championship runner feels at the end of the race that pushes him over the finish line first?
Just this week, go for it! And let me know what happens.