As we’re getting into the holiday season and the end of the year, it’s only natural to start looking back on the year and take stock of where we are in life and how we stack up compared to where we want to be.
And sometimes… well, sometimes it’s pretty hard not to be dissatisfied with it.
When you’re trying to get better at dating – hell, when you’re trying to just improve your life – you’re going to hit some snags. There will be times when you’re not only not improving as fast as you’d like, but that you actually seem to be getting worse. You may find yourself experiencing failure after failure, crushing your self-esteem and ego like a beer can under the steamroller that is life, leaving you feeling more convinced than ever that you’re just going be forever alone.
When you’ve stalled out, when every attempt at asking out the women of your dreams ends in devastating rejection, when you seem to have a reserved seat in The Friend Zone, when the universe seems to be arranging things just to fuck with you…
Well, it’s time to stop, take stock and look around. You’ve got to examine your life and see just what it is that’s holding you back.
And sometimes… well, sometimes you have to realize that the only common denominator in all those rejections is you.
But you can fix that.
If you’re having nothing but setbacks in your attempts to get better with women, it’s time to start troubleshooting.
How To Troubleshoot Your Life
The first thing that you need to do is learn to be able to examine yourself in an utterly objective way. This can be incredibly difficult; you’re obviously going to be too close to the subject and that’s going to bias how you think. We have bilt-in filters that color how we see ourselves. It’s entirely too easy to get locked into introspection. You’ll convince yourself that you know exactly what’s going on in your life and that everything is clearly not your fault. Or worse – it is… and there’s just nothing you can do about it.
To help bypass these filters, you need to learn to treat yourself like a science experiment: with extensive documentation and peer review. This is part of where keeping a journal is helpful. Don’t think of it as a place to write your most innermost secrets and dreams; think of it as a way of charting your progress. Write down everything you do with regards to meeting women and fixing your life. If you try to approach that cute woman in the reference section of the library but choke and turn away, write it down. If you’re at a party flirting with someone and she suddenly shuts down, write it down. If you just got the “Let’s just be friends” speech, write it down.
And I mean everything. In excruciating detail. Exactly what you said, what you did, what she said, how she was standing, tone of voice, time of day, everything. You may not think in the moment that it was important, but when you look back, you may find the clue that you’ve been missing all of this time. Sometimes we’re too close to the subject to see the pattern; it’s only becomes clear with some distance.
At the end of every week, read back over everything you’ve written that week. At the end of every month, go over a month’s worth of entries. Watch for any recurring incidents; these are the signs of what you need to pay attention to.
Manage Your Expectations
As you’re taking stock of your life, you need to look at exactly what you’re expecting. Sometimes you may not realize that what you want is actually unrealistic. It’s great to shoot for the moon every time, but you may actually be sabotaging yourself. Expecting too much, too quickly will actually hinder your progress; you’ll find yourself getting frustrated and depressed at where you are versus where you expect to be.
You see this often when people get caught up in self-help crazes, whether it be in terms of weight loss, the pick-up community or doing $ACTIVITY for success… they’ll be expecting to be an instant expert despite starting from zero. Writers who haven’t written since college classes expect instant, overnight success. Men who have barely had the courage to say “hello” to the cute cashier at the grocery store decide that they’re going to be dating supermodels by the end of the year. People who barely have gotten used to getting off the couch get a Wii Fit and decide that the next step will be six-pack abs and a pair of tickets to the Gun Show.
And when success and glory don’t immediately manifest in their self-established timelines, they become frustrated, even bitter, and declare that the whole thing is bullshit anyway.
I hate to misquote Confucius1 , but every epic journey is made up of individual steps. Focusing on the end goal can drive you crazy; you’ll feel as though it’s being moved further and further away as you get closer, an emotional equivalent of Xeno’s Arrow. This is why I’m a huge fan of giving yourself milestones – they provide immediate short-term goals that give you a quantifiable measure of progress towards the end.
It’s hard to keep making progress when you don’t feel that you’re getting anywhere. That rush that comes from meeting those milestones provides excellent motivation to keep going. You can see how far you’ve come… and then suddenly that distance doesn’t seem quite so far or so intimidating.
So, yes. I’m telling you to lower your expectations. Your immediate expectations, anyway. Gotta crawl before you run, after all.
- Liar [↩]