Have you ever known exactly what you needed to do in order to get what you want, but couldn’t, for the LIFE of you, manage to accomplish it?
The maddening thing about this, is that most of the time the actions themselves aren’t that difficult. F
or example, let’s say you want get into a regular exercise routine: You pick your favorite form of exercise, find four times each week to do it, and then stick to the plan long enough to ingrain it as a habit. Let’s say you want to start a pet sitting business to supplement your income: You gather information on how it’s done by interviewing other pet sitters, create a process based on what you’ve learned, get the necessary materials, and walk around your local neighborhoods introducing yourself or leaving a flyer on doorsteps to drum up some business.
It seems that getting what we want in life should be simple. You decide what you want, you learn enough about it to figure out what you need to do, and then you start doing it, continuing to learn and improve as you go, until you’ve reached your goal.
None of the actions required IN THEMSELVES are difficult to do. So why don’t we?
Well, FEAR for one. Although it may not be difficult to walk around putting flyers on doorsteps and talking about what you do to your neighbors, it might be embarrassing and uncomfortable. And although dialing the phone might be simple, the thought that the person on the other end could get annoyed by your questions can be mortifying enough to have you burying yourself deep in the pit of avoidance.
But what about exercising? Are you really afraid or embarrassed to walk into a health club or take a walk? Here is where it gets tricky, because if you ask the question, you’ll get all sorts of convoluted answers back from yourself, including: “I was planning to do it but I forgot to bring my walkman, and I CAN’T exercise without it”, or “I had company and it would have been rude to leave them”, or “I just didn’t have the time”.
All reasonable excuses, right? But if they keep coming up, over and over again, delaying your efforts to do something you really want to do, then there’s probably something behind it. Here are some things to consider:
1. Fear (again). Maybe the task itself isn’t scary for you, but you are too emotionally tied to the result.
2. It’s a “should”, not a “want”. Maybe you keep planning to get into an exercise routine because you think you should, but you really don’t want to exercise. In fact you HATE doing it.
3. Time Management. You want it all. Now. And you haven’t considered the time it takes to get what you want – or arranged your schedule accordingly.
Fortunately there are ways to handle these paralyzers and get moving again:
1. Fear: If you know what you are afraid of, then picture it happening. Visualize the worst thing that could happen and sit with all of those horrible, uncomfortable, emotions. Then figure out what you would do. Knowing that you can handle a difficult or embarrassing situation does wonders for reducing the fear around it.
2. Shoulds vs Wants: If you don’t want to do something, chances are you’ll find every way you can to get out of it. So test yourself. If you have a goal, find the want that drives it and fuels your passion. If you can’t find that, then cross it off your list. If you focus on the want, then the actions required to get it aren’t so hard to accomplish. Back to our exercising example — you may hate to exercise, but if you REALLY WANT something like looking great in your bathing suit by summer, or reducing your cholesterol to a healthy level, the vision of your end result can propel you to the health club every day.
3. Time Management: Make a list of everything on your plate and how much time you need to accomplish it. Compare this with how many hours you have in a day, and be sure to give yourself time for sleep, your daily routine, and relaxing each day. Then eliminate as much as you can. Create enough time in your schedule to devote to accomplishing your goals.
Of course the best way to get moving is to get moving – one step at a time. Each action you take, no matter how small, will make the next action easier. When all else fails, break your actions into small pieces – small enough to handle, no matter what your constraints. If you are too afraid to make phone calls, then your action item becomes a role play or practice session with a friend or coach. If the thought of exercise makes you want to sleep, then pick a 15 minute walk, or 20 sit-ups as an action item. If you can’t find time, then find an activities that take 5 – 10 minutes. And commit to doing one each day. Chances are, once you get started, you’ll build momentum, and find yourself wanting to move to the next step.