Ah Monday mornings…that beautiful time when we declare our goals for the week, we create and imagine, we give over to our higher selves and say, “I can do this! Today’s the day!”
And then 10:00am hits. Well ok ok, maybe it’s noon. But at some point, we just “don’t wanna”.
Listen, the truth is, it takes nothing to lead an ordinary life. I’m not sure who said that, but I think of it often. It’s so true. Sitting on the couch watching TV and eating chips? Why yes please! I mean, who doesn’t love that every once in a while?
The problem is that doing that consistently, giving in to the easy “right now” feeling leaves us with little else. Well, maybe some crumbs in the couch and a few extra pounds to lose, but that’s about it. I’m not saying don’t treat yourself once in a while, we should treat ourselves. Once in a while.
The issue that most of us face is that the “moments” we decide to opt for immediate gratification, can become the days, weeks and months where we opt for immediate gratification. And that leaves us wondering what the heck our New Year’s Resolutions even were, and why we set them, and why we’re in exactly the same place as we were a year ago.
It’s a pattern we create of giving in to the “don’t wanna” moments. And those who are truly successful in life have figured out how to break that pattern. They’ve armed themselves against the “ordinary” to create the extraordinary.
So how can we break this pattern for ourselves? What can we do when we’re faced with the “don’t wanna”s?
Well, there are a few things. We can always try good old fashioned willpower. You know, kicking your own rear end until you feel so bad that avoiding the shame keeps you going. Riiiiight….’cause that’s fun.
Then there are things like being super restrictive, using buddies, or even giving yourself stickers, like your mom used to do if you cleaned your room.
But you know what works so much better than that?
Systems. Wait, what? Systems for what?
Well, systems for keeping track of what triggers your “don’t wanna” and reminders for why you set your goals in the first place. My “systems” are below, and they include high-tech resources like sticky notes, a pad of paper to keep track of my triggers and a timer. Yep. Just like that one you have built into your phone.
These systems are important, because at some point, there’s the goal, our motivation and inspiration, the distance to the goal and then that sneaky “don’t wanna”.
When you’re facing all of these things, how can you make sure your goal wins over a momentary feeling, a whim or a set back? After all, if we took the time and imagination to set the goal, then it meant something to us.
The trick is to be prepared for the “don’t wanna” before it hits.
I have a few things that I use regularly, and they really help:
1. When you get hit with a “don’t wanna” moment, hold still for a few seconds. What were you thinking right before that moment hit? Did something unexpected happen? Was there a trigger around you (this could be a person, a thing – like a piece of chocolate or an old movie, a conversation etc.)?
Write down what it was so you can pay attention to it the next time it happens. If you can find a pattern, you can prepare yourself against it for the future by writing your own comeback, distracting yourself with something more productive, or reminding yourself of the reason you set the goal in the first place (see next bullet point).
2. Keep reminders around yourself about why you set your goal. As always, remember the feeling you’re after. We set goals because we think achieving them will make us feel a certain way. Write that feeling on sticky notes that you put around your computer, your bathroom mirror, the fridge – wherever it will help you most.
3. Many times we’re attacked by the “don’t wanna” when we feel overwhelmed. When this happens, I love playing a little game. Set a timer for one minute. Then sit still. Do absolutely nothing. For one whole minute. No really. Try it. I’ll wait….
Amazing, isn’t it? Can you believe how long a minute really is? You’re given 1,440 of those in a single day. Just think about how much you’re capable of getting done when you choose to sit down and focus. Overwhelm? Oh I don’t think so. You’ve got this.
4. Get started on something really small. The easy-peasy tasks like sending that one e-mail, or cleaning up the breakfast dishes. There is something small you can do, right now, to get yourself back into the mood. Dopamine is the “get it done” drug, and the beauty is, it builds on itself. So start with the small tasks that you can tick off quickly and get that “get it done” drug pumping through your veins. You’ll be so glad you did.
Listen. You choose these goals for a reason. They are yours and yours alone. You are here, on planet Earth, for a reason. And I know that you’re not OK selling out on that reason because it gets hard or because you don’t feel like it right this second.
So the next time you hit that wall…you know, this one:
…you’ll be prepared.
You’re up to something bigger than this fleeting thought, and now you can take it on.
Huh. Look at that. You’ll be kind of like Harry Potter. Running right through brick walls to a magical life waiting on the other site.
Go get ’em.