“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” – Bruce Lee After two decades in this business I realize that writing will either; 1. break you; or 2. polish away your imperfections and make you a better human being. Sometimes getting to number 2 requires number 1 to happen first.
Yesterday I listened to James Altucher’s recent podcast with Jesse Itzler to promote his book, “Living With A Seal: 31 Days Training With The Toughest Man On The Planet.” Jesse’s book is about how this former Navy Seal pushed to crush limits he didn’t even realize he had. This made me realize how human nature so often causes us to perceive our limits to be far less than they really are. There was a time in our history when this was probably useful for survival but in today’s world it often only limits our success and happiness.
Writing, and pretty much every other worthwhile goal in life, requires you to develop a certain psychological toughness over time. Much like training for a marathon we have to consistently push ourselves to our limits, embrace the pain, and then explode beyond those self-perceived limitations. This is how people have always found success. After meditating for nearly half of my life I have learned very useful Jedi-like mind tricks that cause the shift in perception necessary to conquer fear or many things that seem impossible. I’m also aware of just how weak my mind still is sometimes. I’ve learned that a true growth-moment always occurs just after the pain and yearning is almost too much to bear. It’s the closest thing I can imagine to giving birth.
Recently had one of those moments. I was feeling frustrated and sorry for myself. My day job, personal responsibilities, work on the second novel, promoting my writing, and building a website seemed like it was too much to handle. I was feeling overwhelmed and, as a result of that, nothing was getting done. The excuses were flying, “There aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.”, “I don’t know how to create a website.” “I can’t meet that deadline.”
As it normally does, life presented me with a few examples that became solutions. One example was James’ podcast with Jesse Itzler that I previously spoke of, the other came in the form of a friend of mine, Ulrika, from Sweden. Ulrika is a pharmacist, owns her own candy company, is raising children and still manages to write two (or more) large novels per year. At first this seemed impossible to me…until she revealed to me the simple secret of how she did it. No matter how much she has going on in her life she writes one hour per day. One hour. Every. Single. Day. It was that ingeniously simple.
I decided to try out her method for myself and here I am, three weeks from the depths of my pain and frustration with a fully functional website (www.ericvancewalton.net) that I built myself. I’m also waking up an hour (or more) early before going to my day job to work on my second novel, Truth Is Stranger. This has reminded me is most of us can do and be so much more than we are.
No matter what life throws at us, there’s never not a solution. Life will show us the way (sometime's it'll even kick us in the pants). Our only job is to be awake enough to see it and be willing to do the work. I can tell you first-hand, the glorious lack of regret is worth every single ounce of the pain.
~Eric Vance Walton~