Over the weekend, I was aimlessly scrolling on Netflix (because who isn’t) and I saw “Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I procrastinated on watching it because I wasn’t ready to commit. But after seeing her name enough times on Buzzfeed, I finally caved.
Long story short, I clicked play. And I’m so glad I did.
Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” philosophy is based on the KonMari method. While most of us struggle to organize our material things, this method focuses on one question: “Does this item spark joy?”
If the item does not spark joy, you simply thank it (I know, kind of interesting) and then dispose of it.
This Japanese method has become an international success thanks to Marie Kondo. But the principle of removing the things that don’t positively benefit you is something that people clearly need to hear right now.
In fact, I think we should use the KonMari method to approach our mindset and our confidence, asking “Is this thought bringing me joy or taking it away?” and “Are these actions helping or hurting me?” on a regular basis.
Confidence is the key to success in business, but we are treating it less and less of a necessity.
When it comes to something we care about – like our kids or our families – being confident is easy. Our friends and family are so important to us that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep them safe.
But we need to spend the same amount of energy prioritizing our happiness and well-being too. And we aren’t.
Understanding the Thieves of Joy
To me, confidence is really traced back to the thoughts you think about yourself.
However, there are a few things that do not spark joy within us. Let’s call these the “Thieves of Joy.”
As your thoughts come to consciousness, you need to be able to distinguish whether they are thoughts or thieves of joy.
Thief #1: Comparison
This one is so popular that it has its own saying. We compare ourselves so much that we have social media apps to make it easier now than ever to wish your life was like so and so’s.
Just go on Instagram once, see yet another post of your college acquaintance living it up on their 5th summer vacation to Italy, and there’s bound to be a little bitterness from your side of the screen.
Why do we compare ourselves? Well, it’s actually a very natural reason. As humans, our goal is to make sense of our environment and, therefore, our respective roles in it. This is why we feel the need to label everything, including ourselves. But labeling isn’t always productive.
According to the Labeling Theory of sociology, people can learn to identify or behave in ways that reflect how others label them. In short, we can literally become the labels that someone else believes we are. All we need to hear is one “you’re not good enough” and suddenly it’s written in stone.
So, if we can wear the labels of others, what makes you think that you aren’t producing a lifetime supply of negative labels for yourself?
How to Combat the Comparison
Focus on yourself, not others.
Focus on your story, no everyone else’s.
That’s all you have to do. Do not focus on what someone has said about you in the past or what they might think of you in the future.
They are not you, and the sooner you embrace that, the better off you’ll be.
Assess your strengths and weaknesses and learn how to work with them. The more confident you are with who you are, the less you will even consider the useless words, thoughts, and ideas of others.
Thief #2: Procrastination
Some might argue that procrastination gives them joy, but they are probably lying to themselves.
Procrastination was defined by Greek philosophers using one word: akrasia.
Akrasia means to act against your better judgment. This is especially applicable to the tasks that matter to us – the ones we need to accomplish.
So, do we delay responsibility because we don’t feel like it, or is it really based on fear?
Fear is a strong procrastinating agent. I mean think about it – we all know that person that was supposed to start that business, write that book, or ask out that girl they’ve been crushing on for months. They’ve told you all their plans, but refuse to put anything in action because “the time isn’t right.” But to me, “the time isn’t right” sounds like a fancy way of saying “I’m too afraid to go for it.”
When you are addicted to the idea of perfection, you are locking yourself in a prison cell and throwing away the key.
Learn to attack your obstacles head-on, because that’s the only way to overcome them.
How to Combat Procrastination
Take some inspiration from Nike and just do it.
Many of our stresses and insecurities are linked directly to our perspective. Learn to view the positive outcome of your tasks, and then they won’t feel so daunting.
If you know how much better you will feel when you update your headshot, just update it.
If your stress will go away once you make that business plan, then make the plan.
Keep your end goal at the forefront, and you will never complain about what it takes to get there. You’ll just do it.
Thief #3: Challenges
No matter how many motivational quotes we read, gripping TV shows we watch, and inspirational figures we admire, we still can’t seem to accept the importance of struggle. And here’s why:
We keep thinking that it won’t happen to us.
Well, one thing is for sure: If we keep thinking like this, we will never reach our goals.
If every accomplishment was easy to obtain, they would not be called accomplishments, would they?
How to Combat Challenges
Leading a life of significance requires a mindset of perseverance.
Challenge yourself to view each obstacle as an opportunity for success rather than an obstacle or setback.
And it sounds flowery and simple as you read it, but trust me, it takes hard work.
It is hard to redirect negative thoughts over and over again, or re-strategize plans after a frustrating situation arises.
But putting in this kind of effort is more productive than wallowing in defeat will ever be. So dust yourself off and keep trying. Over and over again.
Things never go as planned, and that is a good thing.
Thief #4: Fear
Fear is the biggest thief of joy and is found at the root of many of our problems. It’s a pretty common emotion our clients have when they step into our studio to get their headshots taken or to record a video.
It is a powerful human emotion that elicits two major physiological effects for us: an emotional and biological response. For this reason, fear was critical for our ancestors who faced daily challenges, like escaping from predators, obtaining daily sources of food, and otherwise surviving in the wild.
All very understandable things to be afraid of, right? These are serious circumstances that directly affect survival.
The problem with us now is that we allow minor inconveniences to incite feelings of fear so strong we’re convinced we can’t survive it.
This silent suffering is why anxiety disorders are at an all-time high now – we have forgotten how to choose what truly warrants the response of fear.
How to Combat Fear
One of my favorite quotes is one by Maya Angelou that says, “If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Learn to shift your perspective to your purpose when it all hits the fan.
When your purpose or mission is positioned as your driving force, almost nothing will get in the way of you achieving it – not even you.
If you can’t outthink your fear, use it to your advantage because it can also be a catalyst for change.
Have you ever been so afraid that your fight-or-flight response was activated? In stressful situations, we sometimes perform our best if not better than we could have performed without the stressor
Keep fear as a tool for success, but don’t allow it to take up so much space in your mindset.
It simply doesn’t deserve the real estate, and you don’t deserve the anxiety it brings along with it.
Remember, confidence doesn’t work well in the company of thieves. Identify the ways comparison, procrastination, challenging situations, and fear personally affect you and prepare your mindset to combat them:
Don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on yourself.
Don’t procrastinate any longer. Just face your fears and do it.
Don’t let a challenge intimidate you. Focus on the solution instead of the problem.
And don’t let fear get you down. Let you purpose drive you to success.
And lastly, if your dreams spark joy, allow yourself to chase them. No matter what it takes.