“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored. Dying…or busy with other assignments. Because dying, too, is one of our assignments in life. There as well: “To do what needs doing.” Look inward. Don’t let the true nature of anything elude you. Before long, all existing things will be transformed, to rise like smoke (assuming all things become one), or be dispersed in fragments…to move from one unselfish act to another with God in mind. Only there, delight and stillness…when jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don’t lose the rhythm more than you can help. You’ll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.” ― Marcus Aurelius
I recently had the honor of being invited to participate in a new group aimed at helping people create the lives they dream about by focusing on your goals in 30 day chunks. If you’re looking to make changes quickly, I highly recommend you check out the 30 Day Collective.
The question posed was “what’s a change that you wanted to make and for some reason have not been able to, or something that you wanted to pursue and just can’t seem to stay motivated to do so.”
In addition to some direct coaching, I answered all the questions that were submitted to me, two of which I thought would be valuable to share with you:
“Looooooooooosing weight. I always have this little voice that make me believe that tomorrow will be the perfect day to start my new diet. So today, it is time to celebrate = to eat, to drink. And for 30 years, I have been believing this little voice!”
“I am a procrastinator. This began in 1991 when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that I am working with a coach to spiritually resolve. However, until my physical energy returns, I would like some advice on how to feel better about myself right now, and to parlay that into partitioning what energy I do have into accomplishing priorities. Too much?”
I talked about both of these questions at length on a recent episode of Rise UP with B. Dave Walters, along with: How to do the things you know you should, and stop doing the things you know you shouldn’t. How to make change, lose weight, get motivated, and much, much, more! Click here to listen.
I put these two questions together here, since although they seem different on the surface, at their core they are the same: Not doing what we “should” do. This problem of procrastinating on the things is not new, and can happen to even the most ‘enlightened’ of souls. The Apostle Paul complained about this exact same thing in the Book of Romans: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
So how does one break this cycle?
The first thing to do, is take a look at your ‘shoulds’. Are these even things you really want to be/do/have? The first questioner wants to lose weight…why? The second person wants to be able to ‘partition energy into accomplishing priorities’…why? As you dig into these things you are telling yourself you ‘should’ do, it may not even be your wish at all. You might have absorbed the voices of your parents / significant others / friends / society so thoroughly you’ve fooled yourself into thinking it’s what you want, but it may not be at all. And, it’s also possible that your goals have changed. I had a goal of running a marathon, until after getting injured repeatedly and getting too skinny for my own tastes, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted after all. I dug and found that what I REALLY wanted was to prove to myself that I could stick with something difficult for a long period of time. Once I realized that, I was able to adjust my actions and hang up my running shoes.
Next, ask yourself what exactly do you want. It’s not enough to say you ‘want to lose weight’; how many pounds, and by when? If you want to ‘handle priorities’, what exactly do you want to be able to do with your time? If you want to save money, exactly how much do you want to put away, and by when? The more vague an idea is in your head, the less power you will feel; this works for goals and for worries. If you find yourself using words like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘everybody’ and ‘nobody’, chances are you aren’t feeling particularly powerful at the moment. Always remember specificity is the path to power.
Once you know exactly what you want, ask yourself: Exactly what will doing this gain me, and what will not doing it cost me? Get as clear as possible on the positive benefits of changing; how you’ll feel once you reach your goal weight, or the sense of accomplishment you’ll have when you accomplish something that you once couldn’t do. Imagine as vividly as possible the last time you felt that way in your life, and if you don’t have a good example imagine what it will feel like. Start anchoring yourself as often as possible in the mentality of this thing having already arrived. Don’t focus on it coming, since it will always be somewhere in the future; focus on the reality of it being here NOW.
Ask yourself why hasn’t it happened already, and why this time is different. The Human mind is a strange thing. We all have a certain way we see ourselves, and anything that gets too far away from this self image can be uncomfortable. So if we’ve spent 30+ years looking at ourselves as overweight, we will find ways to continue seeing ourselves that way, even if we don’t want to. If you over-identify with having a chronic illness, you’ll always mentally hold yourself back. You can counter this by taking in stories of people who have had bigger challenges than you have, and still overcame them to do great things. Like Helen Keller said: “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” Make a conscious choice to finally move forward, and let nothing and no one stand in your way!
Give yourself a carrot to chase. This means set a specific, tangible goal, but make it small. If you want to write a novel, plan a reward for every page you finish; if you knock out one a day, then your novel will be done in less than a year. If your goal is to lose 50 lbs, plan a specific reward to give yourself every 5 lbs lost. Whenever I start a new workout cycle, I pick two outfits: One that fits right now, but not well; and one that won’t fit at all. Then half way through the program, I try on both and see how they fit; I do it again at the end. Often times it’s hard to see our bodies changing day-to-day, but this sort of thing gives you proof that you’re making progress. Side note: Always take before and after pictures when you start a new exercise program for this exact same reason!
Do SOMETHING every single day. It always amazes me when people come to me with something they want to be, do, or have, and I ask them: What did you do today to make it happen? Nothing. What did you yesterday? Nothing. Well then, I may have discovered your problem! I can’t stress enough how important it is to be in action EVERY DAY. It doesn’t matter how small, if your goal is to lose weight then remember losing a pound a week if 52 lbs in a year. So any time you’re about to put something in your mouth, ask yourself: Is this getting you closer to, or farther away from your goals? If you want to be more productive, ask yourself: Is what I’m doing right now the highest and best use of my time? And by the way, any time you might feel compelled to say “I don’t care,” or ESPECIALLY “I can’t help it,” that’s a giant red flag that you’re about to make the wrong move. You have control over your mind and your actions, use it wisely!
And finally, be gentle with yourself. Some days are going to be better than others, and you’ll have days that you back slide. Some days the chocolate chip cookies are going to win. Some days you’re going to stay on the couch watching Netflix. And guess what? That’s ok! The secret is to plan for them in advance! Give yourself a cheat meal, or an entire cheat day where you don’t have to work out and can eat whatever you like. Let yourself off the hook to be lazy and do absolutely anything you want from Saturday night through Sunday afternoon. Whatever discipline you decide on, give yourself a chance to let your hair down from time to time. And when you slip up and fall short, don’t make a big deal about it: Just admit you messed up and get back on the wagon. No drama, no beating yourself up, just get back on track. No big deal.
And that’s it, that really is all there is to it. You can do anything in the world following the steps outlined here. It’s simple, but by no means easy! But if you clear on what you want—and why—and take action every single day, then success is inevitable. Just remember to enjoy the ride!
What do you think? Feel free to comment down below!
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B. Dave Walters Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host
Find out more about me: http://about.me/BDaveWalters
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Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha — Interfaith dialog
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Love One Another — A group for the coolest Spiritual people on the Internet!