Are you putting off doing even the things you want to do for yourself?
After the recent reflection on how we tend to procrastinate regarding things that we don’t want to do, a friend requested that we also focus on why we don’t always get around to doing the things that we do want to do!
I wonder about this, myself …
Why is it that we delay or avoid doing all the things that we really want to do – and that we know will improve the quality of our lives?
While we understand perfectly well that it’s good for us to eat healthily or to exercise regularly or to drink enough water or to sort out our cupboards or to contact people that we want to spend time with or to pray and meditate on an ongoing basis or to manage our money well, why on earth do we put off doing these things?
Change never seems easy
Part of the reason for this is the same as discussed in the previous reflection on procrastination.Whenever there’s any hint of ‘should’ or ‘must’, we tend to associate even the positive, good things with a sense of ‘duty’,’obligation’ or ‘restriction’ – and this then colours these things with overtones of reluctance and/or resentment.
It’s bewildering that we would sabotage ourselves in this way, by not doing the very things that we know will benefit us – but this isn’t an unusual thing.
Much of this sabotage pattern comes from the inertia we feel about changing habits that we’ve become used to, even if these habits aren’t healthy or productive.
It seems easier to lie in bed a little longer instead of getting up for a walk and we tell ourselves that we’re too busy/tired/distracted/upset or unprepared to start eating in healthier ways or to tidy up or to start building into our lives a little quiet time of reflection.
While these justifications may seem valid to us on one level, on another, deeper and more authentic level, we do know that they are simply delaying tactics – and mostly nonsense anyway! No matter how much we protest and postpone, we all have an inner knowing about what’s good for us and what’s not so good for us.
That’s all very well, but what can we do about this?
- ‘I choose to do this!’
- Create a genuine longing for what the healthy habits will give you
If you want to feel happier, stronger, more flexible, have clothes that suit you and your lifestyle, have more good friends who are on your wavelength, be more in touch with your spirit and your Creator and have more overall energy and enthusiasm for life, then focus on whatever it is that you truly want. The attraction and the longing are what will help to draw you forward in a constructive way.
- Willpower isn’t enough
Whenever you find that you’re white-knuckling your way through something, enduring it until you can stop and go back to your old ways, remind yourself why you’re making these changes. Remember that you’re not doing this to punish yourself, but because you genuinely desire the relief, well-being, freedom and self-esteem that come from living your life in harmony with what you really need.
- Little by little, day by day
New habits take time to become a regular part of your life, especially if you’ve had the unhealthy habit for years or even decades. Even the smallest positive changes can give you confidence and courage to keep on going – and if you go off track, kindly and gently encourage yourself the way you’d coax, urge and cajole a child into doing what’s good. You’re likely to get much further this way than berating or criticising yourself.
- New habits take a while to become routine
Research varies on how long it takes to establish a new habit – some say 3 weeks, some say 6 weeks and some say 12 weeks – but in my experience it can take ages to get used to new ways! However, it is possible to create new habits that become part of your life – after all, you don’t need to be reminded to brush your teeth! At some stage you had to learn this habit, but now it’s automatic – and you can create equally positive routine habits at any stage.
- Make a small start – you don’t have to be perfect immediately
When we rock the boat too much, there’s the danger of falling out, so don’t try to overhaul your whole life all at once. Choose something that you’d really like to have as part of your life. Imagine how you’ll feel when you have it – and then do whatever you can to start building this into your life. An ‘all-or-nothing’ approach seldom lasts and a gradual process generally reaps more lasting results.
And the more that you gently and consistently persevere, you’ll notice that your self-confidence and self-esteemalso grow consistently.
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