The Art of Getting Started

Five easy tips to stop thinking and start doing

Full disclosure: I procrastinate all the time. I doubt I am alone. I will often make grand plans or a long to-do list or be excited about the next book I want to write or course I want to create and then I start overthinking. Fear and doubt creep in. What started as the next best thing since sliced bread becomes another handful of coffee-stained pages in a college-ruled composition book casually tossed on the floor next to the piles of cat fur.

Procrastination is a habit that I keep wanting to change but never seem to get around to.

That reminds me of an old friend who was a specialty advertising product salesman. He always had something else going on the side that he was peddling- usually some form of MLM or get-rich-quick scheme. He was shameless about self-promotion often pushing his plans in a private club without scruples for what others may think. Time after time he’d hear no—

“I don’t have the time.”

“I don’t have the money.”

“Not now.” They’d say.

“If not now, when?”, he’d press.

“I dunno. When I get around to it,” was the frequent response.

Then he came up with a bold plan. With each rejection, rather than handing them a business card and saying call me if you change your mind, he’d hand them a medallion. On the face, it said, “Round to it”. On the back were his name and phone number.

It was hilarious, like an adept prosecutor, he’d lead the prospect to say, “When I get around to it.” And as he handed them the medallion, he’d smile and say well now you’re out of excuses, because you have a “round to it.”

This story goes back thirty-five years and I often return to it whenever I put off something or feel stuck.

It’s interesting how creative people can become when trying to solve something so simple.

There are many ways to break the procrastination habit. It’s interesting how creative people can become when trying to solve something so simple.

All we really need is one: Do it.

Just fucking do it.

That’s right stop thinking, worrying, trying to get all the ducks lined up and the planets to align and for mercury to get out of retrograde, and make a list of shit that’s important to you and just fucking do it.

But you don’t understand… Yes, I do. 100%. Because I am right there with you. I buy into my own bullshit excuses of why I don’t do something all the time. And, like you, I have my own reasons for not doing “it” yet. Most of them are based on some type of fear—failure; rejection; unknown, etc. The list of excuses is as long as we want to make it.

The list of solutions is not nearly as long. In fact, most of the stress we have in our lives would be eliminated if we just got the shit done that we wanted to when it ought to be done and stopped putting it off until we feel like it.

Could you imagine if businesses were run only when we felt like doing the work? How would that work out?

Why then should we expect our personal goals and “to-dos” to be less important than what we do to earn a living?

We shouldn’t right?

So what are the five easy tips to overcome procrastination?

#1 Know what it is you want to do (Make a list and prioritize it).

#2 Make a decision and become willing to do it.

#3 Know why you want it—what will it mean to you when you do it?

How does the success of completing it make you feel or improve your life?

#4 Make a plan to get it done.

#5 Do one thing to move you closer to completing it every day until it’s done.

Easy right? So what are you waiting for? Get to it.

Want a FREE PLANNING TOOL TO OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION?

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I don’t sell your name and only use it to send any latest musings, advice, or life lessons. If you need more encouragement, shoot me a message: at shawnlangwellwriter@gmail.com. If you want to learn more about silencing your inner critics, overcoming procrastination, getting over writers’ block, or increasing your self-confidence, you should buy and read my latest book, Ten Seconds of Boldness. It will change your life if you are willing to change.

Photo by Chad Greiter on Unsplash

Pause. Breathe. Release.

Three easy reminders/tips for stress-free living.

Have you ever been so wound up or agitated over something that didn’t go your way that you felt like you were either going to erupt in an angry outburst, spewing molten words like lava incinerating anyone in your path or implode like a dying star or a submarine that drifted too deep? Or perhaps you felt like a ball of string so tightly spooled that you couldn’t find either end to even begin to unwind?

I know I have. Many times.

Yet, no matter how spiritually fit or grounded or calm I think I am I still get uptight over some of the tiniest things such as traffic, long lines, being placed on hold forever while waiting to talk to a customer service rep at the DMV or tech support for internet service. And I often feel the same negative emotions—frustration, anger, resentment, when others fall short of my “reasonable” expectations.

Then there is the slew of standards I have of myself to hit my goals, to be a decent human, and to do what I said I was going to do even when I don’t want to. My frequent problem is that I am driven and sometimes my drive to succeed gets in the way of my own success.

my expectations are inversely proportional to my level of serenity…unless I learn to let go of my expectations I will not be at peace.

I read something in recovery literature a while ago that has stuck (sorry I can’t find the exact reference), to paraphrase it said that my expectations are inversely proportional to my level of serenity. That unless I learn to let go of my expectations I will not be at peace.

The first time I read it I could feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck and a snarl form on my upper lip. How dare they (whoever they are), tell me I can’t expect things of myself or others? Don’t they know how driven I am? How hard I try to be the best human I can be? Is it really too much to expect others to do the same?

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Those few lines poked at me like a sticker in my sock.

90% of my stress is rooted in some form of self-centered fear often triggered by unmet or unrealistic expectations.

90% of my stress is rooted in some form of self-centered fear often triggered by unmet or unrealistic expectations. It took many years of therapy and recovery to not just figure that out but to accept it and to begin to change how I respond to situations that don’t go my way.

And, I am still working on it. Probably will be for the rest of my life.

So, what can we do to combat the inevitable anger, sadness, fear of missing out or rejection, or disappointment that will continue to arise in our lives?

It’s easy—develop a new response. New habits.

Well, that sounds easy but what exactly does that mean? I’m glad you asked.

Three things:

  1. Pause. When agitated take a deep breath and exhale. Say or do nothing foolish, merely focus on your breath.
  2. Breathe. Yes, that is part of #1. But it needs to be intentionally controlled. For example, take a series of three — 10 breaths. Breathing in slowly and then exhaling slowly. It would also benefit to practice yoga and some form of prayer or meditation. But in the heat of the moment, I doubt you have your yoga mat handy, instead, you can pause and breathe wherever you are.
  3. Release. As you practice one and two above bring your focus onto the deep exhale and release all that negativity. The stress. The fear. the anger. The sadness. Imagine it draining out of you as flushing the toilet after a big shit. Then close the lid, wash your hands and go about your day.

These three tips can be effective in the short term, but the emotional attachment and reactions we have to stressors will continue to return and will never completely go away until we find their source.

Another key I learned in personal study, therapy, recovery, and practice is to not fight the feelings when they arise. To feel the anger, the fear, and the sadness, and rather than resisting it, ask a question.

Ask, what is this trying to teach me right now?

Ask, what is this trying to teach me right now? Then sit with it and find a safe place to release your feelings.

Lastly, you may want to seek professional help, especially for ongoing problems. As a good friend says you don’t have to do it alone. Help is just a phone call away. 911 operators will say, “help is on the way.”

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Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash.

Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Reality check: How are your New Year plans taking shape?

It’s only a week into the new year and I suspect many are already battling the fear and doubt of change. Struggling to find the time, energy, motivation, and discipline necessary to follow through with the first steps of their grand plans. Perhaps what was a voice of confidence and courage is now cowering under a blanket with a pint of Hagan Daz and binge-watching Netflix.

 I get it. I did that too. 

Well, not the ice cream part. But I had an excuse, I was sick.

But now I am back and ready to help others who need a little encouragement to take the first steps to what they say they want. Even as an atmospheric river dumps inches of rain and feet of snow all around California, I am ready. 

Are you? 

How’s it going? Are you feeling good about your progress so far or are you already beating yourself up for all the shit you said you were going to do but haven’t yet? 

Life is not a straight line, it’s messy.

Guess what? Life is not a straight line, it’s messy. But I wonder if you had good intentions to somehow make this year different what are you doing that is not the same as last year?

are YOU going to muster enough courage to become uncomfortable?

Newsflash: If your answer is nothing, then how can you ever sincerely believe that you will get what you want? Are the good wish fairies going to magically appear in the middle of the night and wash away all your problems and excuses or are YOU going to muster enough courage to become uncomfortable?

I can’t answer that for you. But I can offer you some hope, inspiration and encouragement. It may be that is all you are missing — someone to tell you that you can, that you are worth it; someone to believe in you until you believe in yourself.

If that’s the case, keep reading. 

One new habit I am making is becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. That can be scary. It usually is. But since I wrote Ten Seconds of Boldness — I am finding that I must practice what I preach if I want anything to change.

That means being bold enough to change and disciplined enough to practice especially when it’s awkward. 

One thing I was struggling with was whether or not to invest in producing an audiobook. Well after tons of positive feedback from a small sample, the producers shared at a recent writers’ conference, I decided to take the plunge and one more bold step forward toward my own dream of becoming a speaker, podcast host, and best-selling author. 

I know it’s not going to happen overnight. But I also know that no matter what goals I have set for myself in the past, I feel much better when I am in the process of making them happen. Not merely wishing or thinking about them. Instead, with each new goal I set to do something new, awkward, or uncomfortable, I make s conscious decision to practice and fall until I figure it out.

I feel the fear and do it anyway knowing I am probably going to suck at first.

I feel the fear and do it anyway knowing I am probably going to suck at first. Instead of being paralyzed by my own fear of failure stepping into it with the bold conviction and determination to keep at it until I succeed.

Perhaps you know what this tug of war between self-doubt and ambition feels like too. 

It’s called fear. 

The antidote is courage. 

If you are struggling with the inspiration and motivation to other get started or stick with your plans, I encourage you to listen to my interview with podcast host, Osha Hayden. The secret to what you may be missing is in that podcast.

I’m always happy to help you map out a plan and strategy for whatever it is you want to accomplish. All you have to do is be bold enough to ask. 

Here’s the link to Osha Hayden’s Aspire with Osha Podcast

You can listen to the inspiring interview with me on Ten Seconds of Boldness here. Enjoy!

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Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

50 Tips on How to Write a Book in 30 Days or Less

Anyone can write 50,000 words in one month and I’ll show you how.

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

Tips and tricks I learned from National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo):

  1. Like any goal break it down into smaller milestones. For this project take 50,000 and divide it by thirty. That equates to 1,666 words a day. That’s how I have done this four times. At first, it seemed utterly impossible. It is for many because they believe they can’t do it.
  2. As with any goal, when you break it down into bite-sized pieces it is easier. Literally, break it down into something you believe you can do.
  3. Stay above the line. Meaning there will be days when you don’t write. That’s OK. Just write more the next day to keep your average above 1,666 words per day—above the line.
  4. Goals are merely benchmarks to remind you where you are in relation to where you want to be. They are not a destination. They are measures. Innocuous. They do not define your worth.
  5. Work with what you have. How many words do you speak in a day? Research says that on average we speak about 7,000 words in a day. We hear 20,000–30,000. We think about 6,000 thoughts in a day. So volume is not the problem.
  6. Belief and organization is the problem. So are a slew of other excuses.
  7. Writing is s function of slowing down long enough to hear, and capture some of these 6,000 thoughts, or extending what we say throughout the day into a recording device or through writing to see where this conversation we have in our head leads.
  8. It’s not necessary to know where it’s going or to even have a clear destination in mind as we begin
  9. The most important thing to writing 50,000 words in a month is to get started.
  10. Capture 200-300 words into bite-sized thoughts. Don’t worry about connecting the dots or editing, just write them down.
  11. Keep writing. You will likely find that writing 200–300 words is not that difficult at all.
  12. If you don’t want to type speak them into a note app and then copy and paste them into a word document. Before you know it you will reach 200–300 words faster than you can imagine. How can I say this so confidently? Because the average person speaks at a rate of around 140 words per minute. Expert typists can reach speeds of 65- 95 words per minute. On average 40 wpm is really good.
  13. So how long would it take you to speak 200–300 words into a recorder? Two minutes, maybe three. Some people may be able to do that in 1–2 breaths.
  14. So the word count is not the problem. Your mindset is. Your need for perfection for being right is the problem. Your lack of confidence to believe that you actually have something of value that others may find helpful or interesting is the problem.
  15. How do you overcome that? I’ll give you one guess—Write. Speak. Copy. Paste.
  16. Keep at it. Let go of your attachment to clarity, punctuation, and perfectionism. Just barf all that shit up on a page and keep going. When you hit 300 words, write some more. Keep writing until you have exhausted all the thoughts feelings perceptions and attitudes you can think of for that particular train of thought then take a break.
  17. Go for a walk. Bring your recorder with you. Why? Because you will likely find more information or new inspirations.
  18. Pay attention to all the details around you. The smell of fresh-cut grass. The way the trees sway in the autumn breeze. See how the maples stand like paint brushes loaded with crimson, vermillion, or cadmium red how bright they stand against clouds of titanium white and the cerulean sky.
  19. Listen to the quail chick scraping for bugs, skittering behind their mother beneath the blackberry bush.
  20. Hear the crows yakking away on garage day scoping out the best unprotected overflowing garbage cans for easy snacks.
  21. Smell the dirty diapers in the gray refuse bin as you meander along your neighborhood street.
  22. Feel the nippiness on your ears and nose as a chilly gust ruffles the falling leaves sending them scratching along the pavement.
  23. Take it all in in a giant deep breath. Feel your chest expand and exhale the stress you have felt from trying to do too much. From trying to be all that you think others want you to be. At this moment just be present/ alive. Feel grateful for all your senses and the air that fills your lungs and the thoughts of being alone fully present to experience these ordinary but magical moments and capture them in your mind. In your recorder. And write about them.
  24. That is all writing is—paying attention to your five senses and seeing where they lead, then memorializing them as a photograph to remind you of a moment in time. And to invite others into that moment so they can relive it as you did. That’s it.
  25. Now with the recorder in hand, dictate all you have just heard observed, and felt, and when you get back to your desk open up your word doc and begin to copy and paste.
  26. Copy and paste.
  27. When you are done highlighting all that you have just put down in a brief stroll you will likely be amazed that you have more than 2500 words.
  28. Many thoughts will become seeds of future stories. You do not need to decide what to do with them at this moment but if you feel inspired take one and plant it. Water it. Watch it grow and see what it becomes.
  29. Remember to pay attention. No book will ever be completed without first collecting seeds. They will not grow into a story or book unless you invest the time to nurture them. So collect. Capture. And write.
  30. Go with the flow. You do not get to choose what it becomes your job is to gather the essence and present it in a way that makes some sense. You trust the direction your inner muse wants to take you. To take the story to those it may touch.
  31. The rest is not up to you. That is for the universe to decide. Your job is to be the pen and the paper to record and create. Record what comes through you. What you see. Hear. Feel. Turn your experience into something that has more powerful before the moment slips away.
  32. You will find as you practice this that one idea or thought or phrase can become seeds for many other ideas.
  33. On some occasions, you may want to brainstorm what those are. Then pick the one, two, or three that seem to matter to you at that moment in time and go with them think of writing as a treasure hunt. You are collecting pieces for something important even though you don’t know what that is, yet.
  34. That takes the pressure off it. It allows for your creativity and the inner muse or spirit to flow through you. Think of this process as Ex-lax for writer’s block and a tonic for your writer’s soul.
  35. The more you do this you will soon find that it can become an obsession. Your mind gets on a path like a runaway locomotive gathering momentum. You write till your wrist cramps and your fingers bleed and when the thoughts keep chugging along you grab your recorder and speak them until you have nothing left/ Then you pause and take another break. Perhaps for the day.
  36. But before you do you look quickly to see how far you have come. 4,000 words and it seemed effortless!
  37. Put this experience into a folder called “confidence bank”.
  38. Save this and many other moments of accomplishment to review on those days when you feel stuck, depressed, or an imposter.
  39. Read them for inspiration. They are your accomplishments, things you did when you find think you could. Cherish them. Know that you can do this anytime you decide to.
  40. Know too that you can stop when you want to.Gove yourself permission to pause.
  41. The point is to let go of your attachment to performance to achievement to need something to be fully thought out, clear and concise. Write a shitty first draft. Puke all over the page. Then clean it up later.
  42. As Mark Manson would say you need to learn the subtle art of not giving a fuck.
  43. Just fucking write—a little bit every day.
  44. And like any goal broken down into small bite-sized bits, you will reach the destination you set for yourself and most likely find that there is way more where that came from
  45. You may even have another 50k words to say on the topics you have already covered.
  46. You do not need to tell everything in one book. Break up your ideas and think of a specific audience you want to speak to.
  47. Give space to what you share. Allow time for the words to breathe.
  48. After each writing session, whatever you decide it to be, walk away for a bit. Leave a hanging thought of where you want to take your writing next and when you return, pick up from there and keep writing. DO NOT Re-Read what you have written. Do not put on your editor’s hat. That will derail your creativity. They are two separate parts of your brain. Stay in creative mode. And keep writing.
  49. When you reach a point where you feel you have completed a thought as far as you can take it, write for 10 more minutes. This is usually where the magic happens, at least for me. It is after I have coughed up a slurry of green gunk from my brain that I am left with the real nuggets and epiphanies. Do not quit before these miracles happen. When they come you will know.
  50. Congratulate yourself for pushing through all the normal resistance, procrastination, and excuses to complete something you before only dreamed about. You did it! Even if you did not get the full 50k words in 30 days. You likely learned more about what you can do and became acutely aware of the mental obstacles that have proven ted you from accomplishing all that you dream and want to do. Writing is as much about finding ourselves as it is about sharing a story to entertain or inspire others. That makes it so valuable. The world needs to hear your stories, so what are you waiting for? Go fucking write them.

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10 Unique Gift Ideas for the Narcissist Who Has it All

Every narcissist is insecure. These gift ideas will certainly bring temporary delight to even the most demanding and hard-to-please narcissists on your holiday shopping list. Because, after all, when the narcissist is happy, everyone is happy. Right?

Every year around this time I grapple with what I want or need for Christmas and what others want. It got me thinking about others who from all outward appearances seem to have it all. The car, the home, the family, the job, the looks, etc., and yet when you look closer they are some of the most miserable people on the planet. They are the Karens and Joneses who continue to complain about how long it takes to get breakfast in a sit-down diner. They are the ones who insist that they ordered an iced late when in fact they didn’t. They are the ones who fret and fume because the line outside Best Buy on Black Friday started at 10 pm the night before and they will now miss out on that killer deal for the 200″ screen TV for $1,000. But it’s not their fault. Best Buy should’ve sent a messenger to their door to let them know when they should get in line.

Dream on dude and dudettes, no matter what you think, the world does not spin on your axis.

Narcissists are like rats and roaches, they are everywhere. You know them. In fact, upon closer examination, there’s a little narcissist in every one of us. Yeah, that stings a little, doesn’t it? But it’s the truth.

Don’t believe me? Honestly ask yourself who you think about the most every day. I doubt it is your kids, your mom, or dad, or even your husband or wife.

According to most studies our dominant thoughts are selfish.

According to most studies our dominant thoughts are selfish. About what we want and don’t have. Well, look no further because this year I’ve created the best shopping list ever for the narcissist who supposedly has it all but is still never satisfied.

Here are the top 10 Gift ideas for narcissists or people with big egos and an inferiority complex.

1) Mirror Mirror

A mirror that reads your mind and tells you all the things about you that you want to hear.

It knows your deepest darkest secrets, fears, and insecurities, and strokes your ego so others don’t have to. It tells you all the lies you want to hear such as:

People everywhere wish they had all that you have. You are the envy of the town.

Look at those abs, buns, breasts/pecs.

In Jim Carey’s Firemarshal Bill voice it exclaims… “You’re Smokin’!”

Its built-in telepathic mind reader app even offers suggestions of people and things to gossip about or judge especially when you are having a bad hair day.

It always takes your side in an argument and never disagrees with you. Its favorite line is: People who don’t agree with you are just plain stupid. They are wrong.

2) Second Skin So Smooth

Who needs Botox or Juvéderm, this mask is so realistic nobody will even know that you have it on. Fully flexible and guaranteed to hide all smile lines and wrinkles. 100% Guaranteed to hide your wrinkly mug or your money back.

3) This is what awesome looks like T-shirts and mugs

A whole collection of color-coordinated t-shirts and mugs that say, this is what awesome looks like. One for every day of the week.

4) The Egomaniac Smart Watch (ESW)

With automatic preset affirmations to tell you how wonderful you are. It also monitors your bank account to tell you how much money you made every hour on the hour.

5) ESW Upgrade

Upgrade today and it will also monitor your energy and mood levels even preorder a triple shot mocha latte with almond milk and a hormone (Testosterone or estrogen) add shot, for those days when you just aren’t feeling on top of your game. God forbid anyone should know you are moody.

6) “Baller Roll”-Unlimited credit with no interest for five years

Move over same as cash credit programs. This will make you feel like a baller every day. Guaranteed to help you maintain your status in the eyes of others even if you are already in debt up to your a**hole.

7) Ready-made compliant employees

Low maintenance and hassle-free just like the world-famous chia pet. Simply add water, and a paycheck and give them two weeks’ vacation, and they will do whatever you ask even work overtime and never ask for a raise.

8) Ready-made bobblehead family(RMBF)

Comes preprogrammed to nod at your every demand and laugh at all your stupid jokes! Guaranteed to stroke your ego and tell you how wonderful you are and will never ever question you or your decisions.

9) Compliant teens

Upgrade the RMBF with the teenagers who will pick up their room, take out the trash, and put stuff back where they found it all without being asked. These model upgrades sell out fast so order yours today!

Bonus: Act now and we will include the full wax auto detailer for each of your kids to wash and wax your cars once a week, even on Sundays, for free just because they have you as a parent.

10) Lifetime membership to the NAONA (National Association of Narcissists of America)

Last but certainly not least, you will receive an invitation to our annual Narcissist conference and a monthly newsletter of the latest trends is selfishness and self-centeredness. The perfect gift for insecure narcissists and ego maniacs everywhere. You are so important you do not want to miss this.

There you have it. A great start to a gift list for that hard-to-please special someone.

Happy Holidays!

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Photo by João Marinho on Unsplash

How to Throw a Raging Pity Party Then Get on With Your Life

Who doesn’t love a good party?

Especially one that has tons of people having a good time. But what about the party in our heads? You know, the ones with tons of unwelcome and uninvited guests—party crashers—AKA — Mr. Doubt and Ms. Insecurity. The worrier, the complainer, Mr. and Mrs. Guilt, and of course, their twin daughters, Shame-la and Shy-la.

Some of these uninvited guests party in our heads all day long throwing down bass-thumping beats louder than a step kids 12″ woofers on a Friday night.

Some of our uninvited guests’ party in our heads all day long throwing down bass-thumping beats louder than a step kids 12″ woofers on a Friday night. Others become squatters trying to steal our peace by never leaving. They are out of control and have turned our ideal vision of a quiet night at home into a nightmare.

How do we turn off the voices? How do we make them leave? Pull the covers over our ears? Call the cops?

How did they even get here?

Well, there’s part of the problem. Like the folklore of vampire movies, once we invite them in we indirectly and unwittingly give them permission to wreak havoc in our lives. To suck the life out of any dreams or visions we have. They are not there to build you up or encourage you to try harder. They are there to destroy you. To make you their bitch.

These voices and we all have many, are there to keep us stuck. In a pot of self-pity, worry, and low self-esteem. Their number one job is like that of the other crabs in the pot — to pull us back in, possibly costing us a claw or a leg as we struggle to break free.

It’s our own fault. After all, we smelled the bait and fell for the trap. The lure of ease and comfort to satisfy our hunger was tantalizing enough for us to slither through the small opening to feast on what we thought would be a good meal. Only one problem, before we knew it we were trapped. In the crab pot of our own mind. God forbid the other crabs should let anyone escape the confines of their self-imposed prison.

What do we do to break free? Can we call 911 and say we are trapped and need help? That’s one way, but I doubt that you could get cell service where you are—lost in a desert of self-imposed fear.

Another option is to fight and claw and try to sweep away these voices that say you aren’t good enough, that you will never amount to anything that you are not smart. You are fat and ugly or stupid and you never should have done that. Whatever that is.

You know. And you worry that others will find out who you are, nothing but a poser, an imposter living in a crowded house of negativity. Like bosses or mates or parents, the voices are haunting and continue to criticize you as they have most of your life.

Then there are your own voices. The ones you hear and see when you look in the mirror every morning. The ones you wish were different but you are not yet courageous enough to change the reflection, the perspective. So you linger awhile longer groveling in self-pity. Some of us even turn up the volume and listen louder.

No matter how many times you have tried to overcome these ill feelings and unwelcome joy parasites, they keep coming back and now they won’t leave. So, what do you do?

If you can’t beat them, join them.

If you can’t beat them, join them. Get into the muck with them and roll around like a happy pig in shit.

Feel all the angst and hurt and anger that you have been stuffing for years. Kick and cry and scream and shout. Experience your feelings as deeply as you can. Let them all out.

What? Are you serious? That’s fn crazy talk. 

Yes, it is and so are the lies you keep telling yourself and listening to as you have for years.

Yes, throw yourself a pity party. Drink deeply from the goblet of lies and guilt and shame, that tells you you are a piece of shit.

Yes, throw yourself a pity party. Drink deeply from the goblet of lies and guilt and shame, that tells you you are a piece of shit.

Know what it’s like. Embrace the disgust you feel about yourself and your decisions and think of all the reasons why it’s true. All of it. Own your thoughts and feelings. Fondle them. Curl up in a ball and cuddle them. After all, you know them better than anyone. They are your friends in the sense that they have provided you temporary comfort and relief just like the half pint of chunky monkey or a shot of tequila when you feel down. They know their role and take it seriously, but there will come a time, just as with a toddler’s binky, that you need to let them go. Sayonara. Hasta La Vista, and unlike Arnie- do not let them get the last words in: “I’ll be back.”

No torch them send them into the black hole of space like the alien invaders they are. Torch those Mfers!

Just not yet. You need to make sure they didn’t lay eggs.

Even when you think you are done feeling all the crap you can, think harder. Look into every nook and cranny searching for all the bad things you think and feel and say about yourself and own them. Play with them one last time, then say goodbye and let them go.

By the time you have exhausted everything that you do not like about yourself, you will have nothing left to tear you down, unless you choose to.

Treat them like you would a telemarketer or door-to-door evangelist — Thank you. Not interested.

Or until the next fearful moment approaches that you are not courageous enough to face it and instead deny its existence or run from it or procrastinate doing anything to stop it dead in its tracks.

Most of all as these events happen do not invite them in to visit. Treat them like you would a telemarketer or door-to-door evangelist — Thank you. Not interested. Hang up the phone and close the door on them. Better yet, don’t answer it in the first place.

How hard is that?

once you embrace your shortcomings and stop denying their existence, they lose their power over you.

It sounds super easy and even crazy but believe it or not, once you embrace your shortcomings and stop denying their existence, they lose their power over you.

So throw the biggest, baddest, pity party you can imagine, and then clean up the mess and get on with your life. Call it a retirement party or going away party or a celebration life. Whatever you decide, don’t let the voices own you.

If you would like to learn more about specific steps to move past these self-defeating and deprecating thoughts you have look me up.

 * Note I am not a psychologist and all of the advice in this post is based on shit I have done when I feel down. 

If you are deeply depressed seek professional help. This is in no way meant to minimize your pain or resolve it if you need medical and professional attention. 

For all the rest of us, give it a shot. The cathartic process of owning our shortcomings definitely weakens the grip they have on us.

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Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Affirmations Are Not a Secret

Yet, how many of us don’t believe they work?

“Fake it till you make it.” “Act as if.” “See it. Say it. Believe it. Do it.”

If you have been around the block a few times, you undoubtedly have heard these phrases or ones like them. But hearing them is not the same as using them and BELIEVING them.

It takes practice and willingness to fail and pick the stickers off our cheap thrift store suit

Belief is a fickle beast. It takes practice and willingness to fail and pick the stickers off our cheap thrift store suit as I did before I staggered into my first AA meeting in July of 1986. But it did. And I showed up, even though I didn’t know what to believe or if I even wanted to stop. All I knew was that if I didn’t change something I would probably die before I reached my 23rd birthday.

Long story short, I tried to believe I could stop on my own and tried desperately for the next three months before finally giving up for good.

We want a shortcut to success. Guess what? There isn’t one. So STOP LOOKING FOR IT!

What’s the point? The point is that we all have dreams and goals and problems that we want to accomplish or resolve but most of us either don’t know where to start or even if we do, don’t believe that we are worthy. That we can accomplish something. Worse, most of us want instant gratification. The path of least resistance. We want a shortcut to success. Guess what? There isn’t one. So STOP LOOKING FOR IT!

One of the simplest and easiest spots to change the trajectory of your life is to start a daily practice of gratitude, prayer, and meditation. Why? Because so many of us are externally motivated and driven by ego that we want what we want when we want it but really don’t have any meaningful reason why other than it will make us feel like we are worthy.

True success is way more than that. Lasting success is built one painful mistake at a time. One failure. One risk, one misstep, one adjustment. One goal, one bold step forward. Prayer, meditation, and gratitude help you focus on what really matters. The internal change of who you become that is lasting and way more significant than earning another 12k per year.

Being grateful for what you have frees up your mental space to receive more of what the universe has to offer you. The same is true for prayer and meditation as well as writing affirmations.

Prayer and meditation help you focus on what really matters. Affirmations are present positive statements that reinforce and create a mental shift in your belief system from I can’t to I can.

for affirmations to work you have to trust in forces unseen…you must believe them to be true.

But for affirmations to work you have to trust in forces unseen, yourself, and be bold enough to take action rather than just write them down and say them. Lastly, you must believe them to be true.

This takes practice. Lots. It takes discipline and daily repetition of stating that which you want as if you already have it day in and day out. As you do so it shall be.

It’s inexplicable but when you shift your thinking to what can be opportunities miraculously and inexplicably begin to manifest themselves in your lives. I have experienced this for more than 40 years ever since I first discovered the incredible power of affirmations.

Here is my current one:

It feels great to have written enough good stuff for 100 people to follow me on Medium

It feels great to have written enough good stuff for 100 people to follow me on Medium so I can start to earn some money. More importantly, though I have wisdom and knowledge that I want to share with others than can help them live better lives and that’s why I write.

Yes, I want to make a few more bucks but really I look forward to the day when I can say, wow in 2022 I wanted 100 followers, now five years later I have 10,000+. I am living proof this affirmation stuff really works.

Note: in July I had 17 followers. Since writing this affirmation in July, I am now at 83 + and believe that I will hit 100 by the end of September if not sooner.

Take a chance on yourself. Believe in yourself. You are worth it.

Shawn Langwell is a highly respected leader, author, and speaker. He is a recovered alcoholic with 35+ years of continuous sobriety who writes and talks on a variety of topics and is available to address any audience, anywhere on the topics of recovery, business strategy, or goal setting.

Find him at shawnlangwell.com.

Photo by Ivan Dostál on Unsplash

Three Easy Tips to Get More Done Better, Faster

How to get started now.

How often do you think about and try to tackle too many “important” tasks, projects, or “to-dos” at once?

If you are like most people, including me, you still believe that being busy is better than being lazy, and spinning multiple plates like a clown in a circus will somehow earn you a gold star or that people will be impressed because of your ability to keep so many plates spinning. 

Guess what? Nobody cares.

Really, that may sound harsh but it’s the truth. In our quest to be more, do more, and have more we scramble from idea to idea and half-assed project to half-assed project wondering why we feel so stressed out.

Tip number one: STOP and say NO.

Stop taking on more projects. Stop accepting the next invitation to Susie’s daughter’s, ex-boyfriend’s, nieces four-year-old’s, birthday party. Stop offering to lead the team for this year’s annual celebration. Let someone else step up. Think NMP—Not my problem. (My close friend likes to add an F to that—NMFP). Whatever motivates you as long as you practice saying NO!

Stop saying yes when you really want to say no. Honor yourself—your time and attention. Accept that people will actually admire and appreciate you more when you set and respect your own boundaries. More than the times you show up just because you don’t want to feel left out or feel like others will think less of you if you don’t.

Stop volunteering to bake cookies for the school fundraiser. Stop offering to help a friend of a friend move or paint their house when the paint on your own home is cracked and peeling.

Just. Say. NO!

Tip number two: Retreattake two steps back before you take the first step forward.

What? You say. That’s the story of my life. Every time I feel like I am making progress — two steps forward—I end up taking three back. How can I ever get ahead if I keep that up? You’re right. And I’ll explain how to fix. that with tip number three. But right now. STOP forcing your will to succeed and take two steps back to regroup. To focus. To think. 

The problems with pressing forward and forcing an issue and trying to do it are more than I can possibly outline in this short post. Let’s take a school paper for example or a project at work. Have you ever been so immersed in the research and trying to process all the data and information that you completely lost sight of your overall thesis, premise, or objective? Me too. All of us have at some point in time. Perhaps that is you right now.

The project will not go away. As long as you have time left before a deadline, stop and take two steps back. Do something NOT related to the project. Go for a walk, take a hike, or visit with friends. Something—anything to stop obsessing about what you haven’t done yet and how much more there is to do.

Let it go for a bit. That means don’t keep treading water in the deep end of the pool of looming deadline despair. 

Instead, seriously commit to doing something else to clear your head. Allow all that information to settle on its own in your brain without you trying to categorize and figure out which comes first, the chicken or the egg.

Commit to STOP. Commit to take a few steps back. Then watch how much headspace is created. How much lighter you feel.

Many people throughout history have taken time to stop and clear their minds. Some make it a regular practice with meditation. It’s healthy to retreat. To let go. To sit still for a moment and just be.

Doing so allows the creativity and powers of the unconscious to resolve whatever challenges you are facing. Doing so makes room for creative insights and solutions to spring forth. Epiphanies are borne of silence, not from clanging cymbals like a monkey in a box.

Plus, as you retreat you are able to expand your views by using a wide-angle lens setting on a camera or your phone. Zoom out before you zoom in.

The third, and one of the most critical steps, is really a combination of the first two and many others which makes it challenging, but not impossible to accomplish. It will require discipline, practice, and willingness to fail.

It is one word that is a superpower when fully utilized and embraced mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That one word and the third tip is FOCUS!

Multitasking is bullshit and a big part of most people’s problems. Focus is the cure for virtually any mental block to forward progress. It is the panacea for procrastination, doubt, insecurity, and, at the same time the supercharged fuel for success. 

Yes, there are many things to be done. There always are and always will be. But focus on what needs to be done right now. Prioritize. If more than one thing needs your “immediate attention”, find a way to prioritize each and make a decision to invest a set amount of time to either advance toward its completion or get it done now. Then do the same with the next priority.

Stop trying to chew gum, drive your kids to school while mapping out your presentation for your first client at work in your brain, while also checking your email, or Facebook, to see how many people liked your post about the “best lasagna ever” that you made for dinner last night. 

Just stop. Retreat. Turn off push notifications, and instead ask your kid about what they like about school and focus on being present. 

One thing at a time.

Do you want to be a super mom or dad who isn’t stressed out all the time? Try these tips out for a week or two. If they work for you, shoot me note to let me know how you did. How you felt. What made them work? What was the outcome.?

If they didn’t work for you, ask yourself why? What could you have done differently? How much did you actually practice them? Let me know why they didn’t work, too.

Practice, feedback, and adjustments are three key ingredients to personal growth and improvement

Why am I asking this? Because practice, feedback, and adjustments are three key ingredients to personal growth and improvement, especially when it comes to managing our time and what we think about. Your feedback not only helps me, it will help you more.

The chances are like most goals we have in life, that the problems aren’t out there. Nor are the solutions. The solution to overcoming stress is most often a few tips, decisions, and new habits away. They are found in doing, not overthinking.

Keep it simple. Remember and practice these three steps:

  1. Stop
  2. Retreat
  3. Focus

Give it a go and see how those work out for you.

Photo by Raul Varzar on Unsplash

The Multi-Million Dollar Cure for Procrastination

Write a daily to-do list, then DO IT!

The following prompt is straight out of my latest book Ten Seconds of Boldness. I’ve used these techniques for so long that they have become a habit. I consider myself an expert at time management. Ask anyone I have worked with and they will agree.

I am sharing this one tip and likely others because they may, in some small or great way, help you get more shit done, especially that long list of things you have been putting off. You know the one I’m talking about. We all have it. Sometimes we keep it hidden in the recesses of our minds. But when it comes to procrastination, out of sight is not out of mind.

When it comes to procrastination, out of sight is not out of mind.

The key to getting things done and overcoming procrastination is simple when we stop thinking and start doing. What do I mean? I write shit down that I feel is important: To dos appointments, ideas, projects, and plans that are merely rough ideas. And yes, like most people, I too have a long list of things I want to do, probably should do, but continue to put off for a myriad of reasons. Some good, or so I think. Others are merely excuses I make and believe because I am battling some inner fear about the outcome or lack of resources necessary to feel confident enough to take the first step.

Let me help. Take the first step.

Write a list of things you have been putting off. Look at it and honestly ask yourself, how important is this right now? If it’s not, procrastinate. Take it off the list. If it is, read on and do the prompt below. It may make a tremendous difference not only in your attitude about yourself, but actually may be your mental ex-lax to unblock your creativity or productivity as the case may be.

Do it NOW!

No, I do not get everything I write down done every day. Who does that? I do, however, write some sort of “to-do” list almost every day, usually, on scraps of paper I cut up from articles I wrote and printed then decided were crap so rather than crumpling them up, I took the scissors to them and gave them a second chance at meaning and purpose as a to-do list.

No, I do not get everything I write down done every day. Who does that?

When I am done—writing and checking off as much or all of the things in the list, I can recycle them or toss them in a manilla envelope labeled “TO DOs DONE” for safekeeping. I created this system so the next time I am feeling overwhelmed with procrastination, I can rummage through what I HAVE DONE and feel better long enough to tackle the next item onmy list. This may sound whacked. It works for me. Find your own system or try some of the tips I’ll share now and later.

Side Note: So you don’t think I am some know-it-all-to-do-list ninja who gets all his work done without fail, I don’t. That’s a fantasy. In fact, I am guilty of adding things to the list that weren’t on it, especially if I only got 1–2 of the 4–6 things done.

I am guilty of adding things to the list that weren’t on it, especially if I only got 1–2 of the 4–6 things done.

Hey, we gotta build confidence and consistency, right? And I am nit the only one who does this. The other day when I was talking about my hectic day and long list of to-dos with one of my largest clients, he admitted to adding things to his to do list that were already done as well for the same reason. We had a good laugh, got back on track, and secured the business at hand. Simple. Easy. Fun.

Getting shit done is an art form. So are excuses and procrastination. But we’re going to keep this positive today. I’ll save tips for overcoming excuses for another day…

Where was I? Oh yeah, for me, crossing things off my to-do list is like having a mocha almond fudge ice cream, in a sugar cone, on a hot summer day. It tastes so sweet and is a rush of caffeine and sugar. Afterward, I feel like I can run or marathon. Or when the rush wears off, take a two-hour cat nap in front of a fan.

So you want a free tip without spending twenty bucks on my book to get this and hundreds more? Here’s one plagiarized from my own book, Ten Seconds of Boldness, to whet your appetite.

Prompt #1: Block and Tackle Practice

No, I’m not talking about football practice. You don’t need shoulder pads or cleats for this exercise.

Take ten minutes to write down everything you want or need to do today (be sure to include the things you’ve been procrastinating over).

Take ten minutes to write down everything you want or need to do today (be sure to include the things you’ve been procrastinating over).

Look at your list. Are the important things on your calendar? If not put them on it. Next, organize your list into things that can be done in blocks of time. For example: I am the sharpest in the morning, so I will put anything that requires creative thought, such as writing or working on marketing proposals, on my calendar for a one-to-two-hour block in the morning. Then I get to it.

Next, on a separate piece of paper write down everything you want or need to do this week. You get the idea. Repeat the process for a month, year, or longer. For “to-dos” with a deadline of one year or longer, I recommend using the productivity planning sheets in Appendix II. We’ll also explore more tips and tricks, in the next section, Into Action. (Sorry all, I literally copied and pasted this from my manuscript…There is no Into Action Section in this article. You’ll have to get the book for that.)

Follow me if you want to learn more simple, practical, effective strategies for time management and more that actually work!

Until next time.

Keep smiling, life’s more fun when you do.

Find my books wherever they’re sold.

Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

What could you accomplish if you had the confidence and belief that you would succeed?  

What if you decided to take the first bold step?

A week ago I had the privilege of being a guest on Aspire with Osha, a podcast produced and hosted by Osha Hayden where I answer that question and offer listeners and readers insights on life, recovery, and why I wrote Ten Seconds of Boldness.

Drawing upon her experience as a psychotherapist, mediator, trainer, and artist, Osha is the consummate host. Says, Osha on her website, “My show is all about connections–how art connects with nature which is essential for humanity. How people can steer their passion into creating and contributing to a better world—a more positive future for us all, in ways both great and small.”

I Felt the Fear and Did it Anyway

Despite the fact that I had just finished writing a book about developing courage and boldness to become self-confident, I won’t lie, I was nervous about the interview.

I still get nervous before every speaking engagement. This interview was no different. I still waste time worrying about how I sound—am I too quiet, too direct, blunt, or do I have the late-night radio DJ voice of empathy and compassion, offset by flourishes of enthusiasm and excitement? In other words, am I being myself or trying to sound or be like someone else? I only know how to be me, and that is enough.

I only know how to be me, and that is enough.

Then the worry train blows its whistle and the critic, turned conductor, shouts, “ALL ABOARD!” Quickly my thoughts become a series of worry laden, what ifs—what if I say something I’ll later regret (not that I have ever done that). What if I forget important material or worse, freeze on air? (Fortunately, the interview was prerecorded which alleviated some of my anxiety). You get the idea.

Then I immediately start thinking about what I am going to say—will I remember the key points? What if I cuss or say something stupid? At some point, I stop worrying about it all and decide to just be myself. I tell myself I am not going to die if mess up. Somehow admitting and accepting that, takes the pressure off.

I process any and all self-defeating garbage that still goes through my mind, and I do it anyway.

Why? Because I like to lead by example. And if I just spent five years writing a book to inspire others to find the passion and courage to pursue their dreams and goals, I damn well better put money where my mouth is.

The Conversation

After the introduction, the gremlins in my head slowly settled down within minutes of getting started. The critics stopped barking, and, thanks to Osha, I dropped into a zone of vulnerability. She made it safe, easy, and comfortable for me to share personal stories with one sole purpose: to inspire and help others take a chance on themselves.

And when I started to wander off into the weeds, Osha deftly brought me back to my center, reminding me of the important points covered in the book such as what important questions we should ask ourselves if we want to be successful, what is success, and what I wanted listeners and readers to walk away with.

I am sure every listener will find at least one nugget to help them take one bold step forward on a journey of personal growth and self-confidence.

Enjoy,

Shawn