Why? Because It’s Difficult

I think it’s natural to shy away from accomplishing the many items on your life’s wish list: learning that language, writing that book, starting that business, becoming that friend.

There are so many things you want to do, and in so many areas. I applaud you. You have a good heart and the desire to do good. You want to make a difference, you want to prove to the world that you matter; that’s awesome. Yet, despite these desires, you have yet to take action. The years go by and it’s the same old thing day after day, week after week, month after month.

And each day you’re still wanting to achieve something meaningful. You’re happy, but you could be happier. You’re living, but you’re not living according to how you want. You’re stuck, and you don’t like it.

Each item on your list has one commonality: it’s difficult. And it’s for that reason that you haven’t done it. You know it’s going to take work, but you secretly want the easy answers, and that keeps you from action.

If you’re tired of letting life live you, and you want to start living, then you’re going to have to start somewhere. Perhaps the best place to start is not proving to the world what you can do, but proving to yourself. Build your confidence by doing one of those list items. Just one. Forget the rest for now. Begin today, start small, you can do it.

Prove to yourself that you can handle the difficult tasks: The ones that require strain, the ones that push you to the next level, the ones that exercise your mind and body. Yes, the ones that bruise you, make you question your abilities and doubt yourself, the ones that force you to focus, reevaluate, question, and grow.

Do this for yourself. Give yourself the gift of accomplishment. Give yourself the power of self-respect, routine, and drive. Treat yourself to the gift of learning and knowledge.

Remember that all those small practice session add up. You can do this not because it’s easy, but because it’s difficult; you are capable of accomplishing everything and anything you want—everything that matters, everything that’s difficult.

The Difficult Things

I do difficult things to prove to myself I’m capable of more than I think.

I became fluent in a second language to connect with another part of the world, and prove I could do something unique.

I’m learning my third language to prove to myself that my mind is not stale.

I wake up between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. every morning to push my body more than I think possible to prove I can be more than I already am.

I push myself because it’s hard. I test myself because through failure I progress. I do the difficult things because I want to live.

On Disappointment & Freedom

When people say they’re disappointed in you, it’s because you’re not acting according to their expectations of you.

In most cases, these people’s opinions simply don’t matter. Live your life the way you choose to live it. I was trapped by my parent’s expectations and dogma for 30 years before I came to my rescue.

I knew as a teenager that what I wanted was different than what they wanted, but any time I stepped out of line, they put me in my place with that “disappointed in you” routine. I was disappointed in me too, but for opposing reasons. I hated not having the courage to be different—to be me. And I lived that way through college and into the first 10 years of my marriage.

It hurt to be me, and until the pain caused by betraying myself outweighed the pain and disappointment I would cause my parents by living true to myself, I remained trapped.

When I finally had the strength to break free from their expectations, I found myself and I found my happiness. Their disappointment in me hit an all-time low and remains there, but for the first time in my life, I’ve been able to look in the mirror and not feel shame and disappointment for living someone else’s life.

And for me, that freedom has been worth all the disappointment in the world.

Who Am I?

“Who am I?”

“Who. Am. I?”

I ask myself this question far too often, and not often enough. Depending on my mood or the events leading up to my self-reflection, the answer changes.

When I’m feeling lost, helpless, and disconnected, I respond with, “I don’t know.”

I yell my name during moments of triumph and achievement. “I am Nolan Speaks!” In these moments, I know who I am, and there’s no stopping me.

This morning, I’m lost. I don’t know who I am. I know what I have to do, but my creator is stuck and feels like overeating and binge-watching Netflix. My consumer agrees. Those two bastards have been in cahoots since August.

Now I sit here thinking of ways to feel better, but I recognize that all my ideas are simply avoidance tactics, elaborate as some may be. It’s experience that tells me there’s only one way forward and out of this funk:


Not all the things, just some of them, starting with easy victories that help me regain my confidence. I need to start easy and gain traction over the coming weeks.

Experience also tells me that I habitually take on too much at once, and then retreat when it all comes crashing down, but not this time. I recognize where I went wrong. I learn from the past, I look forward to the future; I can figure this out. I can do this. I will do this.

I am Nolan Speaks! I know who I am.

Everything in Its Place

They key to an uncluttered home and an uncluttered life is to place things where they belong, the moment you’re done with them.

Recycle paper when you’re done with it. Hang up your coat when you’re no longer wearing it. Wash your dishes the moment your meal is over. Give or throw away all things you haven’t used in six months.

Every evening have a place for your keys, your phone, and your wallet, and in the morning, you will know exactly where they are.

Accept into your life only the things which make it better: it’s okay to say no; it’s okay to say yes. You have only one life that’s certain. If you keep your life uncluttered to begin with, dejunking becomes a non-issue.

Allow people into your life that are good, inspiring, and supportive. Let relationships that pull you down, entice you to do wrong, and attempt to bend you to their will fade away. If that relationship is important to you, make a plan to salvage it. If that fails, let it go. Your life will be healthier for it.

When everything has a place, and everything is in its place, your time is used doing what you want with the people you love, instead of searching for the things you need.