Many of us, me included, struggle with self defeating habits. We are constantly getting in our own way and tripping ourselves and stumbling over our own good intentions. We try to get ahead, and sometimes we do, but usually we end up sabotaging ourselves and in the end simply get frustrated and often depressed. This is a very real problem and one I am beginning to learn to overcome. For some it is simply the fact that we don’t put enough thought or planning into what we are hoping to accomplish, so it usually doesn’t happen. Others simply procrastinate until it is to late and in the end we sit in our rocking chair on the porch thinking about ‘the good old days’ or simply hashing over again ‘what could have been’ or the ‘if only.’
I am finding that life is simply to short to keep running around in the same circle hoping to find the exit. There has to be a better way. And for some, it seems to come naturally. They focus and move forward and accomplish. But for others we seem to constantly be viewing the same scenery and telling the same stories year after year. So how can we get out of our own way.
I think first we have to see the problem. If you think that this is just the way life is, then you will never try to see life differently. Or if you think that this is the way you were wired to be then you will just keep doing the same things and getting the same result year after year. Someone once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result.” So we need to see that there is a problem and then try to find a solution. This is where some work comes in, because there is no hard and fast solution for everyone. Each one of us is unique and so the solution will be uniquely designed for each of us. There will be some common principles to apply, some I may even be able to share here, but the solution will be uniquely yours. Which requires some soul searching. Something very few people actually do, and as a result very few people move past where they are at.
So we need to examine ourselves. This doesn’t mean that we should spend so much time searching for problems that we make some up. That is often what a hypochondriac will do. They are so convinced there is a problem that they will constantly make one up to justify their search for problems. This is not what we should be doing. But we can look within and see if there are patterns to our lives that can begin to explain some of what is happening in and around us. Quite often there is a trigger that allows us to shoot ourselves in the foot. Pardon the pun. And if we begin to take an honest assessment of ourselves we can begin to see those patterns and then begin to see a way of changing them.
We need to develop a plan. If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. To often we live life like Charlie Brown. Lucy found him shooting arrows at the fence in the back yard with lots of bulls-eyes painted on the fence. Charlie Brown would shoot an arrow and then proceed to paint a bulls-eye around it. When Lucy commented that this was not how it was done, Charlie Brown said “but this way I hit a bulls-eye every time.” And this is the way many of us run through life. Me included. But then we wonder why we never seem to get anywhere. I learned recently that we wouldn’t plan a trip without looking at a map to be sure we knew how to get where we were going, and knew where the gas stations and hotels would be located. But we run through life doing just that. A plan, or goals, is simply a map showing our destination and how we intend to get there, and when.
Forget about what cannot be changed. To often we spin in circles going over what was, and what if. What if something goes wrong, or what if someone doesn’t like it, or what if… The list is endless. Or we sit and stew over what happened before. We can never push into our future if we are constantly holding onto our past. So what can we learn from our mistakes that can allow us to move forward. We are only a failure if we stop trying. Edison said, when he was asked about the 200 attempts at the light bulb, “I never failed. I just learned 200 ways that didn’t work.” So we need to do the same. Our past is to heavy a burden for us to carry. We cannot look forward if we are constantly looking back. We need to let it go and begin to move on. I know, easier said than done. But what would you rather do, sit and rehearse past failures, or look forward to new victories?
We need to stop sweating over the small stuff. If all we do is worry and focus on what we have no control over we can never accomplish anything. This has been a problem for me. I often get lost in all the details. And the details seem to just keep coming. But I am learning to focus on what is necessary, and on what I can change. And we all need to do the same. We have some control over what happens around us, if the truth were known it is very little, and those are the things we can focus on changing. Getting frustrated and bent out of shape over what we cannot change just takes our focus off of what we can change. So don’t sweat the small stuff.
Lastly stop procrastinating. We can never move ahead if we keep putting it off till tomorrow. Someone once said “There is never a better time than today.” And since there is no such thing as a round to it we need to stop waiting. It’s not going to accomplish itself, don’t I wish, so we need to simply buckle down and get started. This means some discipline because a procrastinaters favorite phrase is “I don’t feel like it.” We need to stop running on our feelings and simply focus on what we can change and then change it regardless of how we feel. It is like going to the gym. On the way we feel tired and not up to exercise. But if we discipline ourselves and do it anyway we find ourselves feeling better because of it. Time to adopt Nike’s slogan and “Just do it.”