It’s that time of year for a life change as the New Year brings in a symbolic fresh slate yet most of you know that despite best intentions you will give up, not bother and simply avoid what you really would like to get done.
Logically and frustratingly you should have no problem getting some of the most common life change people want to make right now. From going to the gym, eating healthier, stopping smoking, job hunting, cleaning out that back room or starting and finishing a life changing project somehow your mind sabotages you into giving up or not bothering at all.
Why do we do we all do this?
Always remember that your minds number one goal is to keep you safe emotionally and physically by subconsciously scanning the short term future and predicting as many outcomes as it can which could affect you in a negative way. Your mind will then guide you to feeling safer and happier even if the long term outcome is not that great, it’s the short term which matters. Think about how people with bad habits such as smoking can’t seem to focus on the reality of long term effects of what they are doing. The mind will focus on short term negatives such as cravings, failure and other emotions the smoker won’t be happy experiencing and then use those predictions to trick them using delusional positive thoughts into feeling good now by continuing the habit. We are also reward based mammals which means we get an endorphin feel good feeling from doing something which feels food right now, this leads to many a bad habit as we indulge the primal mindset.
So what can you do about it?
1. Learn to shift your mind’s awareness from trance to the present moment and wake up!
Being awake and more present means you are more likely to be proactive with your choices instead of being reactive to your subconscious programming of keeping you too safe out of context with reality. Being present and learning that thoughts are just thoughts and feelings can be just feelings which come and go like the weather is invaluable especially when you learn to develop the attitude of exploring what is useful to use and letting go f the rest. It really is life changing empowering stuff. If you think about it the only thing that has ever stopped you moving forward in life is a simple thought which was not true. Crazy isn’t it! Just imagine what would happen if you no longer believed the thoughts in your mind so often, what would happen then? The choice is drift through life in a trance just reacting to life or wake the hell up and get proactive.
2. Get into the habit of waking yourself up from being self critical, fighting yourself and giving up.
Listen to how you talk to yourself, is is motivating or just plain ole nasty? Being harsh just adds pressure to the Limbic System (survival and emotional part of the brain trying to protect you) making it harder to be more pro-active to life as you will just end up being more over reactive instead. When you notice yourself talking to yourself in a harsh way simply stop, take a natural breath and shift your mind to the present moment and focus on what is more important instead. A relaxed Limbic System helps life feel more easier to experience and helps you see more helpful options for the moment and future.
3. Goal setting and creating a list of what you want to achieve today.
Goal setting doesn’t work for many of us as the subconscious can have a few issues with how it processes getting to the end result. Why not for example focus on being healthier and fitter today instead of a weight loss goal? This helps to deal with those incoming failure issues which will crop up on your journey. You can have an end result in mind but take each day as a challenge for you to be the person you want to be. The mind won’t mind so much being healthier and fitter today but will battle with you when you say week or month. How you write the short list will also effect how your mind will process it in the short term. “Write book,” could be “write paragraph.” “Clear out all attic,” could be “clear out a couple of boxes.” It’s true that whilst more present you just get on with this anyway but in the meantime make it easier for yourself as you train your mind by rewording your tasks and breaking them down to biteable chunks.
4. List and welcome the possible sabotages you will experience today.
We all will experience these but listing them is a great way to know what to expect from a crafty protecting mind today. For example “Today my mind will use Facebook and get me to do easier chores like pop to the shops which feels productive to stop me getting my C.V done.” “I will fall into trance today a number of times and try to do….. which is ok.” When you notice your mind switching to auto pilot or trance to get you looking at a newsfeed or to get that washing in the machine . Smile to yourself, welcome the sabotage effort to protect you, snap your fingers and say “WAKE UP”, become present and just continue doing what you know you have to do. Distractions also count as sabotage, emails, texts, phone calls etc which you expose yourself too will try and divert your attention. Limit these by not looking at them until task is completed or during a break you schedule in advance.
5. Explore the short term negatives of NOT being more awake and doing what you want
If I give in to my smoking, will todays cigarette the tipping point for cancer? I will feel a failure when: I light it up / eat that cake / sit down to watch TV or go on the net instead / i’m wasting my precious life. This could be one of the last days I have being this healthy or before my circumstances change which I could get this done. How will you feel after not doing what you need to get done? Values guide us and these can be worth exploring as it can help switch on that motivational feeling which moves us forward.
6. Reward yourself.
You would think the feel good endorphin rush you get from completing a task would be enough and that may be true for some but most of us are not wired that way. I reward myself normally with what would have distracted me or give myself something special at the end of the week for completing my tasks. Get creative with your rewards and experiment to see what will work for you. We have to “grow up” and “wake up” if we want to develop better long term prospects of survival coaching can help with this.
If you would like some coaching on how to be more productive in various areas of your life then please contact me about sessions which are available on Skype, FaceTime or in person.