30 Days: No Looking Down, No Looking Up

For a long time now, I’ve been a big fan of Matt Cutt’s blog, where he does these 30 day challenges.  I’m not sure if Matt’s the one that originated it (I know of other big bloggers like Dr. Pete that are also big on this), but the shared inspiration and transparence is something that I’ve always liked, and it’s something positive that you, as a reader, can likely relate with.

But first a little preface.

My life has been kind of a surreal ride over the past year and a half.  I live in a new city, running a new company in a new industry, am engaged to an amazing girl, living a life that I never dreamed possible.  Somewhere in this ride, a friend of mine helped me out in one of the greatest ways I think that anyone ever has- he got my into rock climbing at the surprisingly amazing gym in my small hometown of Bloomington, Illinois.

This was significant for me for a few reasons. First, I’m terrified of heights. If someone hadn’t pushed me out of an airplane a year earlier at a bachelor party, I don’t think that I ever would have considered. And my first time climbing couldn’t have been more terrible. I watched kids tear up the 65 foot grain silos at Upper Limits, while I sat there halfway up the wall. That about did it for me, until a friend there gave me a single piece of advice.

“Don’t look down. I never look down. In fact I rarely even look very far up, because that can be awful too. Just focus on what needs to happen next.”

And with that, I went from failing that first climb to succeeding, and just a year later was climbing 5.10 grade routes, attending the occasional competition, and passed a lead certification (to you non-climbers, that looks a lot like the cougar/exploding van-filled scenario up to the right).

But that brings us to this- much of what’s made the last year go so well for me is the above scenario. Life is a lot like this. Too many people paralyze themselves in fear.  They marinate in the past, where they feel safe, rather than reaching for the next great thing. I’ve been doing SEO for nearly 10 years, but it wasn’t until I washed away negative influences and talked myself up to take the leap, that I’ve been published on 4 of the top 25 marketing sites this year alone with relative ease.

That should have happened a whole lot sooner.

So with that, here is my first 30 day challenge (the ideal amount of time to form a new habit).  I will not look down.  No late night reflection over decisions made during the day previous, or before.  I will not look (too far) up.  I’ll make sure the next step is a bold one and keep some ambitious goals.  But no writing plans for my next 17 startup projects through a Monday afternoon.  No panic over how Northcutt will operate at 75 employees.  Just this moment, and the one to follow.