“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote speaks to the need to be original in your life, explore new directions, and make your own way.
Both Emerson and Thoreau wrote often about this notion of making new paths (it is very apparent in Thoreau’s writings about Walden Pond). I think this approach leads us to new discoveries, new actions, and new opportunities for learning.
The last part of the quote highlights to need to remind oneself about the journeys taken, as well as to share knowledge – to share one’s experiences for others by leaving behind a trail.
I think it is important to note that creating new pathways in life is not exclusive to certain moments or circumstances. Sometimes we think trying new approaches is reserved for new things or big things or big ideas. But the concept of a path is a simple one, and as such, should serve as a reminder that life is filled with moments where we can go in new and unique directions.
Think about it as taking action that breaks your routine.
Maybe it is the first time you have volunteered at a soup kitchen, donated money to someone in need, or made a positive comment to a stranger. Or it could be driving a different way home from work.
The point is – life is better with discovery.
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We sometimes forget just how unique we are, because we are taught from such an early age – and all throughout our schooling – to conform to rigid standards. Passing a standard is considered a measurement of success, whereas failing to meet it is considered failure.
Rarely do we get many opportunities as we grow up (and even after we have grown) to truly experiment and to fail in a way that is acceptable to others, least of all ourselves.
Experimentation and failure are not negatives. All of our life is an experiment. Embrace that reality, and you will live a more complete life filled with a wide range of experiences and perspectives.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill
There is so much talk about privileges, or the advantages that some have over others. In my opinion, it is waste of energy to think or argue about such things. You cannot change your skin color, your gender, where you were born, how wealthy or poor your family is, or those things in other people.
The truth is that there is no promise or guarantee in life of equality or privilege, of happiness or humanity.
No government or person can make such a promise.
Only you can decide to take control of your life instead of letting life control you. Only you possess the individual ability to seize opportunity no matter where you are and create happiness and success for yourself.
Every day you are alive there are new opportunities, regardless of where you are. If you only focus on what you do not have, on the disadvantages you perceive exist and cannot control, you are defeated before you have started – waiting for someone else to deliver on a promise that cannot be kept.
It is hard to believe it was 32 years ago today that I (a fifth grader) turned on the news, and saw that the space shuttle Challenger explosion.
The impact of that moment is still strong – 32 years later.
That period of national mourning so many of us experienced was unlike any other.
And though it has been 32 years since the Challenger explosion, the words of President Ronald Reagan still hold true when it comes to space exploration, and indeed, discovery across all aspects of our universe, whether it’s beyond the stars, or right here, on earth: We have only just begun.
We truly must remember that we are all pioneers, on a quest to explore what lies in front of us – and what is out there in the world around us.
Everyday we must be brave and resolute and relentless, as there are no guarantees on tomorrow.
And we must meet every challenge, no matter how simple or how daunting, with joy and enthusiasm; to work hard and live a life as inspirational as the dawn of each day, and the heroes we admire, who leave the world behind.
President Reagan’s address to the nation following the Challenger explosion.
Every single one of us have faced that moment when we realize that we’ve lost that special power, drive or energy that is synonymous with effectiveness and success. It is an almost magical force that propels us forward. And when we are missing it – there is a flatness to our state of being that creeps in. In short: we’ve lost our mojo.
As universal as the feeling of being in the zone when your mojo is on and you are on top of everything, so is the sensation that you’ve lost it and need to get it back.
I’ve had ups and downs over the last several months as I started my own company and have been working on various projects. But losing mojo does not just apply to entrepreneurs and business owners. Whether a relationship has ended, you were passed over for a promotion, or the world and some guy named Murphy has decided that what can go wrong, will go wrong, there are many forces that can cause you to lose your mojo.
So, how can you get your mojo back?
I spent some time looking for those answers not too long ago, and collected a wide variety of suggestions. One thing to take into account as you review the list below is that there is no pill or formula that will work for everyone or work every time. What’s more, you may find that some days it will not take a great deal of effort to get your mojo back, while other days you need to expel a great deal of effort.
The important thing to remember as you try ideas from this list (which is by no means exhaustive or complete) is to do your best to quiet your mind and remove yourself from panic before you start. If you were thrown into the ocean and panic – flailing your arms around and screaming – you will quickly drown. So, why would you do the same thing on dry land and drown in flood of your own emotions? Peace is the perfect starting point to get your mojo back.
1. Meditate And Sleep – Recharge Your Batteries
How do you start to find peace and get your mojo back? The first thing I’ve discovered is that if I have lost my mojo it is typically because I am run-down or tired. Getting run-down or not getting enough sleep can lower your immune system, reduce blood flow and oxygen to your muscles and brain, and diminish your overall mood. Fatigue is a mojo killer! Though sometimes we feel better after just one night of rest and sleep, getting two to three days worth will really help return your body to a higher energy level. Meditation also helps. Here are some great beginner steps to meditation.
2. Wake Up Early And Get Moving (No Matter How Hard It Is)
I’ve known many people who do not consider themselves “morning people” and prefer to sleep in. The truth is – everyone’s body is fully capable of waking up early. We have conditioned ourselves through habits to associate greater pleasure with laying in bed and daydreaming then with getting up and moving. What makes getting up early hard for so many people is that we are battling our own minds and the routines we have created. Part of getting your mojo back will mean creating new habits and not succumbing to the old ones. It takes time. But if you start waking up early and getting active in the morning, it will help improve your thinking, productivity and health, and be a great step towards getting your mojo back.
I have to admit – crawling out of bed at 5 am, immersing my body in cold water, and swimming up and down a pool for an hour or more was not the most motivational line of thinking to enter my brain when it came time to go exercise. Instead I thought about how important swimming was going to be for my heart and my body, and how much I enjoyed the feeling of pushing through a difficult set. The more I did it, the more I began to get excited to get the pool to swim, and afterwards, get into my post-swimming routine. The same was true for running. I was never a runner. At first, I ran down to the end of my street and walked the rest of my route. I felt kind of pathetic at first. But the truth is – no one else cares how far I am running but me. So, I decided to run a little farther each day. Now I run at least 3 miles a day, and I am working to push it to 4. The impact? I now use exercise as my time to clear my head, come up with new ideas, challenge myself and ultimately feel stronger and better. I look forward to it! What’s more, since June I’ve lost over 25 lbs and I am stronger than at any time in at least 15 years! Granted, not everyone will get the same benefits from exercise as I have received. But even a light workout in the morning where you get your heart-rate up high will help get your brain and body into a better state.
4. Get Organized
When I say “get organized” I don’t mean run out to Staples and buy calendars, or download time management apps for your phone, or drop $500 at the Container Store. Just simply lay out your schedule for the day, as well as some goals, a creative project to start and other ‘to dos’ that you can quickly tackle. Having a blueprint and creating some structure to your day will enable you to accomplish more. When we can see our accomplishments that helps create positive feelings of success. And success is tied to our mojo.
5. Mojo Does Not Mix With Bullshit, Pitty Or Sorrow
Mojo is absolutely not compatible with bullshit, pitty or sorrow. If those are the emotions you have flowing through your body, you will not be able to get your mojo back. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Have some empathy, Mike! I just [INSERT CHALLENGE OR PAINFUL STORY HERE].” You may find it hard to believe, but I hear you loud and clear, and I am empathetic. Anyone who knows me personally is well aware that I have experienced quite a few painful moments and seemingly insurmountable challenges over my life time. But that still does not change the fact that you will not be able to get your mojo back if your mind and soul are stuck in a depressed state. The way to start to break out of your funk is to think about all the good in your life, starting with the fact that you are alive. Think about everything that you enjoy and everyone, and start to embrace the best aspects of your life.
6. Visualize Success
It may seem corny to some, but visualizing yourself being successful can be a great way to generate some mojo. I’ve used visualization before exercising as well as while I am running and swimming. I have used it in preparation for events I’ve spoken at, as well as for things that have not yet taken place that I am striving to achieve. While no moment will turn out exactly as we planned, visualizing success can help generate some of the energy that makes up our mojo.
7. Outline Your Strengths, Short-Term And Long-Term Goals
I love reading Tony Robbins and other experts in personal achievement because they really know their stuff. One of the most consistent exercises these experts recommend that you can do to get your mojo back is outline what your strengths are as a person. What do you do really well in life? What professional skills do you have? Etc. Then outline some short-term and long-term goals. I did this at the end of last year, and it really gave me a great boost. In fact, whenever I feel like I need to get my mojo back, I return to that list and update it. I also check off things I’ve accomplished. My old government affairs mentor once told me not to send her emails because, “Policy is paper.” And she was right. We can send a million documents electronically to people, but we react differently to things when they are printed off and in front of us. They are more tangible and more akin to action.
8. Connect With People
Connecting with people is an amazing way to get your mojo back. For starters, picking up the phone or talking with someone in person brings a whole new set of emotions to you. You learn from talking with other people, laugh and open your mind to new ideas and experiences that are not your own. Interacting with others can be a quick way to elevate mood, establish a new relationship or bond, or even make a life-changing connection that jump-starts your mojo. I’ve had this experience too just connecting with people on LinkedIn in groups I am involved in. In one case, a quick online conversation around a topic of mutual interest turned into a Google hangout discussion via video. Before I knew it – a wonderful new friendship was born.
9. Be Gracious, Kind And Giving
Obviously, we should always strive to be gracious, kind and giving. However, when you’ve lost your mojo and you’re trying to get it back – focusing on generosity and kindness can really create a strong and positive sense of being. Remember, the highest state of generosity and kindness is to give without expecting anything in return (and to do good acts anonymously whenever possible).
10. Address Your Stress
Stress is apart of our lives whether we like it or not. And there is a good stress and bad stress. Which one do you have? Chances are – if you’ve lost your mojo – you’ve got some bad stress. Bad stress is the feeling that you are both overwhelmed and not working towards anything you believe in or think will succeed. Stress can be reduced by asking others to take burdens off your shoulders. It also can be reduced through a massage, sex, a hug or some other physical action where your body is able to release tension. If you cannot address your stress on your own (many of us think we can handle it alone), then you will need to force yourself to let someone else in to help you. You will have to fight your habit of going it alone, and try and create a new habit.
11. Do Something Fun And/Or Adventurous
Fun and adventure comes in many forms, but they are essential ingredients in my view to getting your mojo back. Think about all the things you enjoy doing. Did you love model trains as a kid? Did you enjoy going on love roller-coasters, white-water rafting or hunting for antiques? Maybe you miss bar-crawling with friends or always wanted to try it? Who knows? Make a list of those things you enjoyed and set out to do something to shake up your life a bit.
12. Remove Distraction
This is the most simple step: remove distraction. Identify your main priorities and focus in on those, and cut out, temporarily, all those things that are really distracting you from achieving your best or sucking away your good mojo. This can lead to painful and difficult decisions, but in our complex lives distractions can be real mojo killers.
13. Get Some Sunlight
Sunlight is vital to your body. It helps with digestion, food absorption, maintain your insulin balance, and generates physical and mental energy. There are many studies that link sunlight to the promotion of stronger bones and heart, as well as improving your immunity. Getting a healthy dose of sun does not mean you need to head for Miami Beach (though I’d hardly blame you), but it does mean you need to get outdoors and absorb some sunlight each and every day. As a New Englander (now currently living in the Mid-Atlantic) I know that we have fewer days of good sunlight. But if you are trying to get your mojo back – finding the time and best way to get a little sun can do a lot of for state of mind and your body.
14. Improve Your Diet
Eating poorly is another mojo killer. I was in the need of serious mojo a few months ago, and decided to stop eating out. I cut out soda, fast-food and other things. It took time. I admit – I cheated every once in a while at the start. But the more I ate very lean meat, vegetables and started eating better foods each day, the more energy I got. Also, my desire to pull into a fast-food drive through diminished to the point where now I do not crave it at all. Now, as a caveat, I am not saying you give up hamburgers and start eating salads right away. I did not do that either. In fact, if you try that as a way to get your mojo back, you will fail because such dramatic change rarely is sustainable. Start small and find simple ways to improve how you eat, and gradually phase things in. You will find a phased approach will generate better short-term and long-term results, and help you get your mojo back.
15. Lastly… Show Up!!!
Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” How many times have each of us headed out to do something, only to debate a thousand times in our minds whether it was worth the time? I remember driving with my girlfriend into Washington, DC to see a band she liked. She was on the fence, because she had so much work. She literally pulled off the highway and then got back on, only to pull off the highway again and get back on. In the end, we got to concert and she had a great time. My daughter as well has been on the fence about joining clubs or doing other things, only to show up and have a great experience. If you REALLY want to get your mojo back – show up! Do not back down from things, or let a particular mood dictate your actions. While showing up is not a guarantee of success, it is an essential component.
[This post originally appeared in the Social Web Tactics blog on 10/16/2013]
Do you have steps that you take to get your mojo back? Share them below!
Instead of leaving such a list on my personal Facebook profile, where I have privacy settings that will prevent many people from seeing it, I’ve decided to create a running list of goals and dreams for 2013 and beyond on the Colliding With The Social Web blog. Feel free to add your own below as a comment using the form below.
Family Goals – 2013
- Outline all the ways I need to improve as a father, and make them happen, so I have the best possible relationship with my daughter. ONGOING AND 2013
- Devote more time and energy to my family, especially those who have cared and provided so much for me all my life.
- Ensure that my immediate family has no financial strains.
- Make sure my daughter develops good study habits and has what she needs to be a successful student.
- Cook more delicious and healthy meals for my daughter and me. Eat out much less.
- Plan a family get-together for either the summer or fall in New England.
- Take my daughter on a vacation she will enjoy.
- Reach out to my Aunt Sue in Florida who I have not seen since my father passed away almost 20 years ago.
Personal Goals – 2013
- Return to what I weighed 15 years ago.
- Get up and swim at least 3 times a week, and workout every day for at least 30 minutes.
- Complete a book I started writing many years ago.
- When faced with difficult challenges or personalities, always handle with patience, and communicate with courtesy, respect and intelligence.
- Learn Spanish.
- Listen more.
- Travel alone to a place where I can unwind in my own way.
- Surprise people throughout the year with anonymous acts of kindness.
Professional Goals – 2013
- Establish the framework for a new type of school in Loudoun County that focuses on business, technology, entrepreneurial studies and ethics.
- Build a strong Reform Party presence in Virginia, and run candidates for state and local office in 2013 and 2014.
- Re-Launch “Our Solutions” as a comprehensive platform for citizens to better crowd-source policy ideas that can be implemented by politicians at the federal and state level.
- Outline and implement a creative way to help working adults better fund their education without adding more debt.
- Discover new clients and launch more successful campaigns than in 2012.
- Get quoted in several news outlets.
- Have the strongest professional year of my life to date.
- Make 50 new and strong business connections.
Personal Long Term Goals
- Purchase an apartment in Bogota, Colombia so I can live in Bogota for part of the year.
- Learn how to play the guitar.
- Form a rock band, and develop, record and sell at least one album.
- Travel to Europe for at least two weeks to see historical sites (especially WWII sites).
- Attend the Bean Pot.
- See the Boston Celtics win the NBA Championship in person.
- Buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee and provide my daughter with a car for when she is old enough to drive.
- Afford my daughter’s high school and college education, so she can get through school either debt-free or with minimal debt.
Professional Long Term Goals
- Break ground on my school that focuses on business, technology, entrepreneurial studies and ethics.
- Expand educational opportunities for young people.
- Launch a successful technology start-up.
- Write a book on what I’ve learned professionally to this point in my life.
- See a member of the Reform Party elected President of the United States.
- Open a business office in another country.
- Be proud of the work I have done for my clients.
- Be known as a hard and smart worker, who was ethical and good to work with.
As a child of the 1980s, my first computer was the CoCo3 (Tandy’s Color Computer 3). That was followed by an Apple IIe. And later, a loud box-shaped Mac that graced my dorm room desk at Andover.
The innovation in computing and in technology that followed in the years since I was a wide-eyed high school student who loved computers and technology is nothing short of staggering.
In the early 1980s, my CoCo was a 512K dream box. Today, our dreams are processed in terabytes, geolocation technology, and mobile apps and devices.
Today, through technology, we can instantly communicate with the world, experience any culture, learn anything, and stretch our productivity to new limits.
Thickly layered our post-industrial, technological epoch was Steve Jobs.
The man who pioneered computers and technology, took his dream to enrich the lives of people, died yesterday. Steve Jobs was 56 years old.
And while many over the coming days will salute his career, it was his philosophy of making things that were at “the intersection of art and technology” and the concept to “think different” that really gets to the heart of what the life of Steve Jobs can teach us.
In business and in government, we need to ask ourselves, “How are we moving to create things that truly intersect with art and technology? How are we thinking differently than we have before? How are we enriching the lives of the people around us?”
Steve Jobs was undoubtedly an iconic figure. But his dreams, surrounded by successes and failures, had two common elements: ideas and decisions. Ideas around delivering technology that enhanced our lives, and decisions to think broadly and differently, and to turn those ideas into reality no matter what.
In the end, there is nothing iconic about that. It is within each of us to dream, and it is within each of us to do.