Wanting It Is Not Enough – Part 2

This is the second of a two-part series on getting it done. In part one, we explored our baggage and took a hard look at our list of “To-Dos.” The key takeaway was simply this: It is not enough to want it. First, you have to decide whether it is a priority. If it’s not a priority, put it on the list for a future date and move on.

What I challenge my clients to do is to take all their wants and to-dos and write them down. We have to start getting very serious about the things that we ask ourselves and the things that we tell ourselves we want to accomplish in his life. Many times the things that we put on this to-do list and allow to pile on the pressure are things that we don’t really want. Pipe dreams. Things that we really aren’t committed to doing but we are really good at telling ourselves we need to do. We have to do. We should do. None of this is true.

When we start getting really honest with ourselves about the bag of burdens that we carry, and we eliminate the pipe dreams, we are left with what is really important at this moment — our priorities.

Now, the second step is to decide to either develop a plan (or stop carrying that junk around).

We have to develop a plan. This is what distinguishes people who accomplish everything we want from those who spend their lives carrying around a long list of to-do’s and dreams.

It’s not difficult to accomplish things in life; the only difficulty is following through on your commitments to yourself.

You must first sit down and get very clear about what you want, develop a plan to get there, and follow through. For me, most of my planning requires me to sit down and focus on my calendar and what is on my plate in any given week. The only thing that makes it on to my calendar are priority items. Everything else is up for debate and the whims of my fancies once everything else is accomplished. I might decide during an afternoon where I have two hours of free, unallocated time to seriously consider where to hang that chandelier. But that’s for me to decide; that’s for me to determine how I want to use that free time and whether or not I want to look at any of my other low-hanging wants in those moments.

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My to-do list is not something that I need to carry around and remind myself of every day to use as a sword against myself. Instead, my calendar reflects my priorities. If I want to go to the gym two times a week, the only thing I have to do is put it on my calendar and allocate the time of preparation beforehand to ensure that I can accomplish it. I anticipate the obstacles. I know that my brain is going to tell me that my bed is so cozy, my muscles are sore from the last workout, or I didn’t sleep that well last night.

My brain is going to offer me all sorts of reasons why I can’t do this.

In these situations, time can also be a barrier. I have three dogs and oftentimes one of them wants to go outside and then the other one will want to go out and then suddenly they want to be fed at 6:30 in the morning rather than waiting for me to get home and feed them after the gym. Never mind the fact that I can never figure out what to wear to the gym and that constant agony of “I have nothing to wear today!” drags on the entire process in the morning making me feel hopeless before I even get out the door.

I know these obstacles will come I know these challenges will happen. So I anticipate them and I strategize around them. I plan my workout clothes the night before I decide whether I am going to feed the dogs before I leave or whether I will feed them when I get home and I stick to that decision. If I decide the dogs need to go out before I leave, it is the first thing I do when I get up before I start getting ready to go to the gym. I have to know the things that are going to pop up to try and keep me stuck. This is not complicated. This is not rocket science.

We identify obstacles to our goals and we strategize around them. We expect the worst so that we can be at our best.

What does that look like? All it looks like is deciding how you’re going to get it done and deciding what might keep you from acting. From there, we can strategize how to guarantee the accomplishment and ensure that we are in the best possible position to accomplish that task and check it off on our to-do list. We can then give ourselves a pat on the back and consider it a job well done.

When we allow our days to operate on a whim out of control and without planning, it makes it more difficult for us to tackle the things that we really do want to accomplish in our life.

It might seem overly regimented and stringent to put all these things on your calendar and live by that. But it’s actually freedom. I know that everything I want to accomplish in my life I will accomplish and I don’t have to worry, or stress, or stew about it. I just have to show up. I have it on my calendar. I have a plan. I have a strategy. I just have to do what it tells me and not question it. That’s all it takes. My days are more efficient, and my focus is clearer when my head is no longer jumbled with all of the things that I want to do and all of the shoulds bouncing around making me feel terrible.

For any day, I know exactly what I will accomplish, what I have accomplished, and what I can do next.

That is what it means to do more than just “want” it, because wanting it is simply not enough.

In order to transform our life from a list of dreams to a list of accomplishments, all we have to do is sit down, plan, strategize, then show up. From there they only this you have to do is honor yourself and honor your commitments.


Giving Away Our Power

As a basic premise, we as humans have the right to determine how we spend our time, where our energy goes, who we have relationships with. We have complete autonomy over our lives. We know this at our core but when it comes to implementing it and OWNING it every day, we give away all of that power.

With my clients, I most often see this happen when we start envisioning changes they want to make in their life.

Making commitments is easy. Following through on them is what distinguishes successful people from the rest.

Many of my clients have similar items on their wish lists —

I want to make time to workout

I want to spend time playing with my kids

I want to have a date night with my partner

I want to leave work at a reasonable hour every day

When it comes down to implementing and executing on those wish lists there are a mountain of reasons why it never happens–I’m just so tired at the end of the day, I just don’t have enough time, it’s just not a priority, something always comes up.

Any of those sound familiar?

You have the freedom to make your life whatever you want it to be.

If you don’t want to workout everyday, want work late every night, and want to rarely have one-on-one time with your family, that is absolutely your right. But let’s get one thing very clear: you are CHOOSING do to do those things. You are CHOOSING not to play with your kid when you get home, you are CHOOSING not to go to the gym, you are CHOOSING not to make your self-care a priority.

In order to get serious about creating the lives we want, we have to start getting honest with ourselves.

This life is not just happening to you–you are creating it.

You have to take ownership for the choices you are making every day.

Being tired at the end of the day is not a universal justification for not going to they gym. You are choosing not to go to the gym. People do all sorts of things every day when they are tired. YOU are doing all sorts of things every day even though you are tired. You are simply choosing not to make the gym one of those things.

When it comes to work, it is no different. You are choosing to answer that phone call right before you were supposed to head to your kid’s soccer game. You are choosing to work late and honor that last minute deadline.

You do not have to honor any deadlines.

Seriously.

You do NOT have to honor any deadlines.

Ever.

You are CHOOSING to do so. Maybe you believe that if you don’t you will get fired or you will lose the client, whatever your justification may be, there is likely a reason you are doing it.  A reason that you believe you HAVE to do it. But the truth is, you are simply making a choice. People blow off clients and deadlines and bosses and phone calls every day. You are choosing not to and that is your right. Own it and stop blaming your choices on everything else. Take ownership of the decisions you make in every moment.

Recognize the reasons for your choices and own them for what they are–choices you are making for whatever justifications you decide are important.

I pay my taxes every year not because I “have to” but because I choose to. I choose not to commit tax fraud. I choose not to violate the law. That’s my choice. Many others in this world do not make that same choice.

Sometimes, I choose to disregard my schedule completely and make something else a priority. Whenever I get a call from my family during business hours, I answer immediately and drop everything else. That is my choice. In that moment, I remind myself “You are choosing to do this, you do not have to do this.” I don’t let myself be a victim to circumstances outside of my control. I choose to blow up my schedule and best laid plans if I want to. Because that is my choice. It’s as simple as that.

When we stop telling ourselves we “have” to do things or when we make excuses for not acting, we are ignoring the simple truth of it all–we are choosing to do or not do those things.

When we take ownership of the choices we are making in every moment of every day, it allows us to hit the reset button. It allows us to ask whether that is a decision we WANT to make. A decision we would make again.

In every moment of ever day, you are making choices. Do you like the choices you are making? Are you blaming someone else for your decisions?

When you look at your life and your days as a series of choices, you take back all of your power.

You reclaim your ability to decide how you want your day and your life to play out. Don’t allow yourself to believe that your life is at the mercy of anyone other than you. Live on purpose and choose consciously how you want to spend your time.

We struggle to make ourselves a priority. We are really good at not choosing to put ourselves first. Make an investment in yourself and your life.

What do you have to lose?


Photo by Robin Glauser on Unsplash

Wanted: Motivation

I recently found myself riding the popular mode of public transportation known affectionately as the Monday Morning Struggle Bus. I was tired and grouchy and just plain did not want to be at work. I didn’t want to be at my regular 9-5 and I didn’t want to work on my coaching business either. I just wanted to go full-on introvert hermit and hide under the covers all day. The problem was that I had made all these commitments – to myself and my clients. My day was full of tasks that I had planned to complete so that my week would stay on course. The constant reminders started popping upon my phone at 8:30 this morning and I knew that wouldn’t stop until 8:30pm tonight.

I told myself that if I could just muster up some motivation, I could get over this hump.

Now, where to find that motivation…. Facebook? A trip to Starbuck’s for a caffeine jolt? Maybe a hallway chat with my co-workers? Maybe if I procrastinate long enough, I will force myself to get to work in a frenzy of stress-induced mania!

My brain came up with all sorts of fun things I could do today instead of work. That’s when I realized that I had just caught my brain in serious reptile mode.

My brain knew I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated. It knew I didn’t want to work and it was politely offering me all sorts of ways to indulge myself and run away from those crappy feelings and dumb work projects. My brain got to work coming up with all sorts of ways to self-soothe. In my mind, I imagined some skeezy alter-ego standing on the corner in a dirty trench coat saying “hey, babe, you want to fly to the moon?” Dramatic, yes, but the basic premise is the same.

My brain was selling me a quick fix, promising it would make me feel better and help me avoid the discomfort I was currently feeling – the Monday morning blues.

I had thought “I really don’t want to do this” and my brain responded, “here are some things you can do that would be WAY more fun.” In addition, my brain went to work telling me all the reasons why it was okay to blow off all the things I had promised myself…you worked really hard all weekend, you deserve a break . . . this project isn’t worth worrying about, you can do it tomorrow . . . you work harder than everyone else, you deserve a few hours “off”. . .

That is what our brains do! We are so used to indulging ourselves and going out of our way to bury those negative feelings (buffering) or running away from them outright through avoidance or procrastination, that is what our brains automatically do in the face of discomfort. And now our brains are really good at it!

Once we allow our brains to run that route a few 100,000 times, it becomes a pro and offers us those “solutions” every time we face the same or a similar discomfort.

If you think “I really don’t want to go to the gym today,” your brain is going to get to work running that pattern and offering you all sorts of reasons why you really shouldn’t go to the gym: You really don’t have time today . . . your really should rest, the day was super stressful . . . you seem run down, you’re probably getting sick, better to rest . . . gosh, your knee seems a little tender, if you don’t rest it you will probably strain it . . . Trust me, the brain is a WWE Diva when it comes to this stuff because we have let it practice this song and dance our entire lives.

When you see your brain doing this, just know that it is operating as it should but that what it is telling you is not the truth.

These are not a facts; they are just thoughts your brain is really good at thinking. Your brain seeks to operate as efficiently as possible (e.g., running the same thought patterns) and the reptilian brain wants to keep you safe (avoid discomfort at all costs lest you be killed by lions!). When you get uncomfortable, your brain offers you these thoughts in an attempt to seek comfort and avoid pain. They are all attempts to keep you running the same route you have been running your whole life. This is guaranteed to keep you stuck.

You have to get savvy with your brain. You have to catch on to its tricks! The next time you catch your brain offering you a platter full of delightful excuses not to do something out of the norm or something you aren’t excited about (e.g., 5am gym classes), do the hard work and keep your promises to yourself. THOSE are brain patterns you want to become a habit but they never will if you don’t force your brain to practice the routes.

Recognize when your brain is doing this and see it for what it is – an old pattern. Then work on creating a new pattern.

This doesn’t mean you have to engage in a round of mental arm wrestling, arguing with each of these thoughts. What it means is that you can recognize when your brain is doing this and ignore all those thoughts and justifications your mind offers. Hello, brain, I see all these glorious excuses you are offering me, very adorable, but no thanks. Just clear your head and stick to the commitment. Period. By honoring commitments, you develop a new set of beliefs and patterns that your brain can channel. The next time you find your brain running an old pattern and explaining why you really shouldn’t go to the gym this morning, you might be able to think instead – Yes, I was tired last time I went to the gym at 5am and I still had a great workout and felt energized all day . . . or Going to that gym class always makes me feel so much less stressed out and I always have a better day than when I skip it.

Commitment is a skill and learning to honor your commitments takes practice and it takes foresight. Your brain will try and talk you out of it, guaranteed. Plan on it and know you must push through.

Only through commitment and practice will you build motivation.

Once you start building those patterns, you can literally achieve anything.

Get out there and use your discomfort as an opportunity to teach your brain some new dance moves. This is hard work but it is the work of a lifetime. Commit to yourself. Commit to better results than you have gotten thus far. Coach with me. I’m ready. Are you?