Wendy did the math for me one night. I had asked her “how much would my life expand if I stretched each day by one hour?” The formula in my head included how long I’ll live if I have it my way, including staying healthy and active. She grabbed her phone, opened the calculator and a moment later “about 500 days…1.37 years.” It sounded significant. What I thought it would sound like. What if I added two hours and doubled that? Okay, okay, slow down, man.
I imagined how I would put to use another seven hours a week, 28 days a month. Then came the tough decision. Would I add an hour to the morning or the evening? Beginning or end? A combination? I love the morning, getting up and getting to it. Shower, breakfast, inspiration, on with it. The more challenging choice would be the evening. After having called it day around 10pm-10:30pm for most of my adult life, I’d need to end it at 11:30pm. Take the challenge. Stay productive. I like to say “don’t go to sleep when you’re tired, go to sleep when you’re done.” I heard that on a motivational video and it stuck with me.
It’s been eight weeks now and except for a couple of high-anxiety days, I’m finding I can stay productive until 11:30pm with an average of six and a half hours of sleep. It’s exhilarating when I think of adding 500 days of consciousness to my life.
That extra hour is filled with brainstorming my new businesses, talking shop with Wendy, getting in some extra planks for the week. Yeah, braggingly, I can now hold a plank for five minutes. It’s excruciating but that extra hour got me there.
Still, I don’t consider my self a “night owl.” Not even close. I’m still “a morning person.” And you probably think you know where I’m going with this. And you’re right, but it’s better.
I enjoy how some people naturally rise in the morning and will meet me for coffee with a smile and story. And I enjoy how some people can keep crunching numbers accurately until midnight. I believe in balance. Negative thoughts balanced and equalized by positive thoughts. Hard work balanced by playtime. Stay up later if you can balance it by rising on time, and without a scowl. Go ahead and label me a “morning person.” I’ll call you a night owl and we can lovingly coexist.
I heard Oprah say “You’re in the life you’re in because of the things you’ve been saying about yourself.”
I have often changed my story but because I wanted to. I try to be in-tune with stories that I tell myself about myself that aren’t true. I make them up out fear, anxiety, and the unknown. And the Law of Attraction means I see all the reasons that make them seem real. Here are several I’ve conquered:
- Dogs don’t like me and I don’t like them.
- My stomach problems are just a part of my DNA.
- I can’t figure out how to record multiple tracks in Adobe Audition.
- I don’t like cauliflower, broccoli or anything “earthy.”
- I could never drive a tractor. Especially one with a bucket and a tiller.
- I wouldn’t be good at running my own business.
- I can’t get personal with my dad.
- I can’t eat eggs for breakfast.
- I don’t like the idea of camping.
- I’m not good at simple home repair, not to mention lawn tractors ’n such.
- Avocados, not my cup of tea.
- Wine, not my cup of tea.
- I have to watch the Super Bowl on a TV.
- There is no one who will allow me to be fully me.
- I don’t like dark beer.
- I can’t imagine getting a tattoo.
- I can’t get my hair cut in Sparta. (Haven’t let go of that one yet.)
- I could never get a pedicure.
- I would never enjoy coffee house music.
- I’d never get counseling.
- I can’t imagine wash and dry hair.
- I can’t stand tailgaters. (…I’m still in progress with this one.)
- I have a routine in the morning that will never change.
- I don’t like games much. Like I’ll never play euchre.
- I won’t keep a journal.
- I’ll never lose these last three pounds.
- I don’t like it when batters stand and watch their home runs.
- I don’t know what this is, but it can’t be anxiety.
- I can’t stay up much past ten o’clock.
The story we tell ourselves about ourselves is who we become. My close friends who are reading this know fully that at my core I am Steve VanWagoner. They also know I’m usually looking for a new story. My decisions to grow and change are also what make me who I am. I have a desire to grow, have new experiences, change and grow some more.
Dear People, change your story by adding good stuff and letting go of the crappy stuff. Grow your story. Expand it. Being productive past 10pm is an outrageous fortune. How about you? Do you keep telling yourself you can’t do it, you don’t like it, won’t like it, can’t see yourself doing it, can’t eat it, won’t tolerate it?
I have friends and clients who are changing their actions about time, sports, dogs, leadership, parents, and relationships. They are changing their story and it’s joyous to hear the details. It requires patience. It’s a process.
Pick a negative “something” today and set a plan to change it. Don’t just write it down, take an immediate first step to get going. Tell someone, buy one of the pieces to the vision, make a phone call, send a text, pick up a hammer, do something, take action. Wendy has a vision and it called for her to build a workbench to get started. When it was done, I felt that deep down gratification for her. And so did she!
If you’re in the middle of change then I salute you! It’s a process. Wendy often says “patience will save your life.” So be patient with yourself. Feel the excitement. Feel the change. Feel the freedom. Let go of the “I can’t imagine” stuff. And if you are unwilling to change it, then at least stop making it part of your story. You’re crippling the rest of us. Me at least. I need positive energy. Let me know, I can help you get there.
I just ate beets in my salad for the first time. I enjoyed it and they’re good for me. For 50 years I hated beets but didn’t know why. For most of my life, I said I can’t be productive past 10pm. I just get too tired. Now, you can call me or text after eleven o’clock. Go ahead, I’ll be up. I’m adding 1.37 years of production to my life. Thanks, Wendy. Thanks, Oprah.