September 21, 2021

Episode 2: Get things done

When you can’t get yourself to become the person you’d like to be, or that you were, it’s easy to believe that you are broken, flawed, or doomed. In this episode, we look at how your engine is excellent – but filled with very bad fuel.

What you will discover

  • The fuel that propels everything we do in life
  • What makes the difference between success and failure
  • Why some days everything feels like an uphill battle
  • Why we often don’t notice our mindset
  • How to create motivation
  • Why positive thinking and affirmations don’t work


Mixed and produced by Adrien Grenier

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Episode Transcript

Listen up! Because I'm about to reveal the secret of the universe and I choose my words carefully. Hi, and welcome to the Excellent Rider podcast. I'm Mélanie, I'm a certified life coach and I specialize in helping people like you get things done, find ease and motivation again, and get unstuck when it feels like you've lost your mojo.

Last episode, we looked at the type of issues that you might be facing: you can't take action; or you're all caught up in negative feelings and thought loops; or it seems that you're not expressing your full potential. You feel stuck and unfulfilled. If this is your case, it's very easy to start believing that you're broken, that you're flawed, that you don't have what it takes;

that you might have reached your level of incompetence; that you're not as good as you once thought you were; maybe that you are doomed, that you are jinxed, that you just can’t catch a break…  You start to believe that the engine you've been given to drive through life is of very bad quality.

But in fact, your engine is excellent. All that's happening is that you're putting very bad fuel in it. Let me explain: everything we do in life, we do because of the way we feel. And this is not something that is typically taught to us. Our parents don't tell us because usually they don't know themselves. School doesn't teach us that. Society doesn't teach us that.

But everything we do in life, we do it because of the emotions we are feeling at that moment. We are filled with a feeling and that emotion is the fuel that makes us act the way we are acting in that moment.  So the difference between a great day and a bad day, between efficiency and waste, between success and failure is always due to the way you feel.

So I'll take a simple example. Imagine that you have a to-do list with 10 items on it that you would like to get done during the day. Somedays it's easy for you: you just go through the 10 items and boom, boom, boom, boom, you do everything you had planned. You're effective. You're productive. You get things done. Some of the things on the list might be boring.

Some of them might be complicated. You might not even knowhow you're going to proceed, but you just get things done anyway. It doesn't matter. You're like a machine and you just do it all. And in the evening you still have lots of energy for your family and for your friends. And then somedays you can't even get through the first item on the list.

You start one thing and then you start another, and then you start a third thing, you'll think a lot instead of working productively, you switch between tasks before one is really started or advanced. You move to another task in hope that you will find motivation. You procrastinate.

If you're anything like me, you suddenly remember that you have this very important thing to do, like cleaning all of your kitchen cupboards. Then at the end of the day, you've done almost nothing from your list.  And yet you're exhausted. And sometimes this can happen. I mean, in the morning you can be super effective and in the afternoon you get nothing done.

You’re the absolutely same person on both days, you have the same experience. You have the same skills. You have the same background. You have the same knowledge.  You have the same personality. The only difference is the feelings that you're feeling. When you do everything on the to-do list and it happens quite smoothly, it's because you're feeling a useful emotion.

For example, motivation, curiosity, efficiency, determination, courage. There's so many more. And when you feel this kind of feelings, it's like using high octane gasoline, your engine runs smoothly, things feel effortless.  You can cover a lot of ground without even pushing so hard on the gas pedal.

And on those days when you can't get much done, you're simply filled with a low octane emotion: discouragement, worry, confusion, overwhelm, resentment or any one of their many friends.  These feelings, they create a lot of smoke in your engine, but not much forward motion. When you're feeling one of those feelings, everything feels like an uphill battle.

And so the only difference between the two days is really what feeling you are feeling. And that's not something that we're taught, but it's absolutely critical to understand that every single action you take in life, it's because of the emotion you're in. So you need to start becoming aware of what emotion you're in, because that's very critical to succeeding in your goals.

And we all tend to believe that our emotions just sort of happen in our body because of whatever situation we're in. We believe that it goes something like this: someone says something to us and we feel happy. Someone doesn't do something and we feel annoyed. We win the lottery and we feel excited.  The weather is rainy and we feel down.

That's basically the message we've received from our life so far. From our education, from the culture around the us, from the way it feels in our body, even from the language we speak. We say “she made me happy”, or “this is so depressing” as if to confirm that other people or circumstances have the power to make us feel a certain way.

And if that were true, that would be a bit of a downer, because that would mean that our emotions are at the mercy of whatever situation we are in. It would mean that we need to control our environment in order to avoid feeling negative emotions.  Believe me, I've tried to control my environment and the people around me and it does not work!

But in fact, and here I want you to listen up because I'm about to reveal the secret of the universe (and I choose my words carefully).In fact, your feelings are not at all created by your circumstances. Your feelings are created by your thoughts. Let me repeat that because that's super important. Your feelings are created by your thoughts. You always think something about the situation that you're in.

And it's what you think about the situation that creates your emotion. If it were the circumstance itself, the situation itself that created the emotion, let's say if it were the rainy weather that made you feel down, well, every single human would always feel the same feeling in a given circumstance. And we know that it's not the case.

You might be feeling down when you see rain through your window, but maybe the farmer down the road thinks it's great weather. If it were the circumstance itself that created the emotion, you would also feel the same in similar circumstances. And you know that it's not the case either.

For example, if you’re in charge of several projects at work and you're stressed, I'm pretty sure that there's been other occasions where you had as much to do or even maybe more to do. And yet you felt on top of things because you read the situation differently, you interpreted the situation differently.  You had a different thought about the situation.

The situation that you're in is never what creates your feelings. It's your thoughts about the situation that creates your feeling.  And that's an amazing piece of news because it means that once you've learned how to change your mindset, you will be able to choose exactly how you want to feel.

So why is it that most of us are not aware that it is our thoughts that create our feelings? Well, I don't know exactly for sure. This is my take on it.  And I think there are several reasons. The first one is that we're not taught this.  So it should be a mandatory class in high school, but the truth is that most people don't know this.  I never realized this myself until it was pointed out to me.

And now that I know it, it just makes so much sense. The second reason is that we think extremely quickly. When you're doing something, you have a thought about it. You make it mean something about you, about your perspectives, about the world.  And that thought creates a feeling.

But it happens so quickly that it seems it's as if the situation itself or the action that you take that is triggering the feeling. A third reason is that most of the thoughts that we think sound very simple and very innocent as if we were just describing reality.  For example, when we say or when we think “he's so irritating”, or “this is hopeless”.

These thoughts seem factual, innocent, and not really worthy of being noticed. In fact, these thoughts are just one viewpoint on reality. So it's an interpretation. It's one way to look at the situation.  There are many other ways to describe the same situation. There would create completely different feelings for you.

And the last reason that I see for that is that we think anew thought every two seconds on average. And most of what we think is recycled. What I mean is that we think the same kind of thoughts when we are in the same kind of circumstances.

And since our brain is built to notice what is out of the ordinary and to ignore what is familiar, when we think something we've been thinking for a while, our brain doesn't notice it anymore. We think the thought; it creates the feeling; but we don't notice the thought. And it feels as if the situation is creating the feeling. So you might ask yourself, why do we think things that make us feel miserable?

Well, we keep on forgetting this, but our brain is designed for the life that we had let's say a hundred thousand years ago.  Your brain's job is to keep you alive. It's not designed to make you feel happy or fulfilled or equal to the other people that you see on Instagram.  Your brain is only there to keep you physically alive.

A hundred thousand years ago, we lived in a rough environment and focusing on what could go wrong and on all the things that were threatening about our situation; that was actually very helpful for survival. It meant that we could anticipate and be prepared and stand a better chance of survival. So very spontaneously, this is what our brain does because this is what it has been designed to do.

It focuses on everything that can go wrong. It focuses on everything that we don't have. It focuses on all the problems.  But it doesn't mean that we need to let it do that. These are just the factory settings, if you will, and you get to change those settings and set the dial exactly where it suits you. So your thoughts create your feelings.

And you can already start to notice it for yourself.  Start to pay attention this week if you feel like it.  How do you describe the situations that you're in? What words do you use? So I just want you to understand that the way you're describing the situation, it will sound like you're describing reality. That you're giving the news report, basically, right?

But just pay attention to what you choose to focus on. And what words do you use to pinpoint those aspects of reality? And if you described the situation to somebody else using the exact same words, do you think that they would feel motivated or clear about what to do next? And if the answer is no, well, it's the same for you.

The way you describe the situation to yourself determines how you feel and the way you will feel will determine what kind of action you will take; whether you will tackle the obstacle or sit on your couch and scrolls through Instagram. So I want you to remember this, your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings determine your actions.

And the main consequence this has for your efficiency and for your wellbeing is that you can learn how to choose the way you feel by choosing the way you think in circumstances where you spontaneously feel unpleasant feelings such as stress, confusion, anger, fear, shame...  You can learn how to think new thoughts and create more useful feelings for you.

That will help you make the most out of the situation. So for example, when you say that you're just not feeling motivated, you're assuming that motivation sort of happens by itself.  It sorts of fall from the sky.  But what's really happening is that you're just thinking a bunch of thoughts that are creating demotivation, such as “What's the point”, “It's too difficult”, “I won’t manage”, etc.

If you want to feel motivated, you need to think more motivating thoughts. Like “this is important for me because…”, “I'm committed to making this happen”, “This is difficult and I can do difficult things.” And there's a complete technique to do this, and I will show you exactly how it works in our upcoming episodes.  So.

The two super important information that I shared today is that number one, you do everything you do because of the way you feel. If you're not doing what you want to do, it's because you're feeling scared or reluctant or hesitant or any sort of feeling that's pulling you away from the task.

And you're not feeling an emotion that would help you perform the task at hand, such as motivation, courage, curiosity, focus to name just a few.  So the first thing I want you to remember is your feelings determine your actions, and you can start to pay attention whenever you're doing something or not managing to do something, pay attention to how you are feeling.

And the number two thing I want you to remember is that your feelings are created by your thoughts.  To feel the right feeling, you need to believe the relevant thought. And I'm not talking about positive thinking. I'm not talking about affirmation. This shite doesn't work.

When you try to repeat things that you don't believe, all that you actually do is reinforce the neuronal pathways for the thoughts that you do believe. So when you force yourself to repeat, “I'm great at this”, “I'm great at this” when you actually don't believe it, all that happens is that your brain sorts of folds its arms and looks at you with scorn and says even louder:

“Oh, really?! You're great at this??!! Don't you remember last time when you completely failed at it and how much better than you so-and-so is at doing this? You call that great?!!”  So, what will happen is that you're actually reinforcing the belief that you are not great at it. Positive thinking, affirmations, we'll talk about it later in the show, but this is really not helpful. So just don't do that.

What I will show you how to do is how to look at the situation from a different angle.  So from an angle that is perhaps equally true, it doesn't need to be the opposite of what you're thinking today, but an angle that you can actually believe, and that is helpful to you.  And helpful in the sense that it's creating the type of feelings that will help you do whatever it is that you want to do.

So to summarize, and I will be repeating that over and over again in this podcast: your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings determine your actions. And so from now on, in this podcast, we're going to look in details at the many implications that this has for your life, for your performance and for your wellbeing.

If you liked what you heard, you can go to my website’s Excellent Rider in one word dot com) and get the episode notes.  They are organized in a structured way that makes them easy to remember. And there are additional exercises and illustrations that you don't get in the audio.

And if you really liked what you heard, you can go to your podcast platform and leave me a review (you can Google how to do that if you're not sure). This helps the podcast be more visible. And that means that it will be easier to find for other people who need to hear exactly this message. And it's also great encouragement for me.

If you felt that this information was valuable, it's the absolute best way to let me know. I personally answer everyone who is kind enough to leave me a review. Thanks so much for listening today.

I hope to talk to you again very soon because you, my friends, even when you can’t get yourself to do what you want, even when you're stuck in negative emotions and unpleasant thought loops; and even when you don't believe it, especially when you don't believe it: you absolutely rock and you'll soon be an Excellent Rider.

There's no bad horses. Only untrained riders.

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