#23 A magic phrase to turn bad days into good days

  • How to turn bad days into good days
  • A magic word for beating overwhelm
  • Essential reading for solopreneurs
😍 Something I'm grateful for this week

Here's a framework I use to turn my worst days into good days with one magic phrase.

So today I found myself flipping out over nothing.
Then in 60 seconds, I went from cursing the world to a sense of contentment with one short phrase.

I was overwhelmed with development work on a particularly tricky project.
It took me over 6 hours to make a few small changes that should have taken 6 minutes and I had to have some difficult conversations.
I had a thousand other pressing issues demanding my attention and a full workday to deal with this was the final straw that pushed me into overwhelm.
It would have been easy to blame the developer, or the designer, or the client, anyone.
At first, I’m ashamed to say I did 😅

But then I had my magic moment when my Stoic habits restored my sense of peace.
I’ve been practicing stoicism for a while, but it’s one of those things that are
easy to do when it’s superficial, hard to remember when you actually need it.

So it was really rewarding to find a habit suddenly paid off,
and totally transformed my mindset in seconds.

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So here’s what I did.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed by my todos, I practice saying this one phrase

“zoom out”.

This mental shift helps me look at the bigger picture and realize this is just one bad day in a grander life.
It made me realize I’m exactly where I should be, doing what I should be doing.

I had been looking at this as a frustrating day of hard coding.

Zooming out paints a very different picture:

Now I am working for my own design business,
from my own office surrounded by nature,
solving problems which only I can solve with my hard-earned skillset.

Just a few short years ago this was my absolute dream.

Fixing this immediate problem certainly won’t mean smooth sailing from here on in.
I will just come across yet another problem.

All of life is just a series of problems one after the other. Example:

↘️ I haven’t got enough leads
↘️ Solve the problem…
↘️ Now I’m too busy with sales calls.
↘️ Solve the problem…
↘️ Now I haven’t enough time to fulfil all the work…

Some problems are better to have than others, for sure.
But many spend all their energy avoiding problems that lead to a better life.

  • Avoid the promotion, it’s too much responsibility, then feel a lack of control over your life.
  • Avoid the workout after a long day at work, then carry the extra weight around all year.
  • Avoid the awkward conversation, then hate it when people walk all over you
  • Avoid the hard path, then complain bitterly and look jealously on other people who have more, can do more, or be more.

This is a victim mindset.
It’s a pattern of thinking and behaviour.
It can easily become entrenched as a way of life.
You can probably think of someone you know like this.
It’s always someone else’s fault, someone else’s problem, and someone else’s responsibility.

These types of people will always struggle with even the smallest of problems, because to them everything is unsurmountable,
and worse, it’s up to someone else to solve the problem for them.

A straight, easy path builds no resilience.
Each time we get stronger, and the next obstacle gets easier.
If you’re not used to solving problems, then the tiniest of life’s curveballs is going to send you into a spiral.
On the other hand, if you spend your life-solving problems, what seems like a huge obstacle to someone else becomes simply a stepping stone for you.
Behaviour can be changed. Mindsets can be shifted. One problem at a time.

For my part, I find I often get frustrated by situations because I wish they were a different way:
“I shouldn’t have to do this, this is Xs fault”
“If X hadn’t happened I’d have more money”
“If I had only done Y then I’d have more time right now”

We all have thoughts like these.
But every obstacle is an opportunity to take responsibility, to learn, to harden yourself, to expand your mind, to create a good story for later.

We see obstacles as problems because we hold an insane idea that things in your life should be a certain way.
And our idea of how things should be is always “easier”.
Events in life aren’t meant to be anything, they just are.

If we can let go of that concept,
And accept that life is not easy or hard, it simply is the way it is,
Then we can start to deal with obstacles and enjoy the process.

It helps to realize the obstacle is the most interesting point in a story.

  • Every good story follows the same broad arc:
  • The call to adventure
  • Enter the unknown
  • A series of tests, trials
  • The final battle
  • The reward
  • The resurrection

After following this journey, the hero achieves freedom and enlightenment,
become stronger, happier more enlightened from the ordeal.
Our greatest struggles are often the best scene in the movie. They are the climactic scene, the boss battle.

These stories are cyclical too:
Good stories always have sequels!
There will be more realizations, more trials, more rewards.

So I use the phrase “zoom-out”,
as a ritual to remind myself to look at the bigger picture and realize this isn’t the end of all things,
it’s just one scene in a much longer movie.

Enjoy putting your energy and attention into solving them.
The alternative is give up and fall into apathy.

Successful people are just the ones who are willing to embrace their problems and tackle them one by one,
accepting that solving those problems will bring new, better, problems.
Given a long enough timeline, success is inevitable if we just keep solving those problems as they come up.

Success = consistency + time

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Essential reading for stressed solopreneurs..

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Essential reading for stressed solopreneurs..
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💡 Key Insights for solopreneurs

Next time you feel like life’s getting on top of you,
Remember you’re facing this problem because you’ve completed the step that comes before this problem.

This is just the next step on the path.
Enjoy putting your energy and attention into solving them.
The alternative is give up and fall into apathy.

🛎️ Daily reminder for solopreneurs

Events in your life aren’t meant to be easy
Life isn’t meant to be anything.
Accept that and get on with it.

💥 How to take action in the next 5 mins

Anytime you feel overwhelmed, Practice saying “Zoom Out”

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Nicholas Robb

Founder, Design Hero
Author of Life by Design

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