Do you know the Nike slogan ‘Just Do It’? I love that slogan and have been inspired by it so many times. However, do you sometimes feel like it is too difficult to live up to that? Do you also find, like me, that sometimes you just can’t bring yourself to do the things you know are good for you? It could be getting out to exercise, it could be tidying up your house, it could be studying, it could be making time for friends or family. Sometimes, it all feels really hard.
I love analysing things, trying to work out what makes us behave in certain ways, and how we can use that understanding to help us in our self-improvement. I believe in a life of consistently improving ourselves – in any and all areas of our lives to make us a more rounded, balanced, open-minded and loving person.
What is stopping us?
I have observed that for many people, starting something new is okay, but going back to doing something that we have done before is much, much harder. I have been incredibly interested trying to work out why that might be. My theory is that there is an emotional cycle we go through – excitement when we start something, hope that it will have the intended effect, energy boost as we are actually taking action, increase in confidence…and then we quickly lose that buzz, that excitement. It becomes an everyday thing, we want to see the benefits of our actions immediately (something that mostly takes time to manifest longer than we like it to), and the ‘high’ wears off. And so it becomes easier not to prioritise taking that action and before we know it, we have stopped.
So, when it comes to starting again, our subconscious has created a link between the lack of benefit and the action. Have you ever heard someone saying to you ‘oh yes, I tried (losing weight, yoga, meditation…) – it didn’t work for me.’ I believe that in the vast majority of cases, the reason people feel their actions didn’t work, it’s because they simply didn’t keep up that activity long enough and consistently enough to get to their end goal. So, when any of us decide to have another go, we don’t remember how good we felt at the beginning, we remember the moments of frustration, tedium or simply doubt. So, the next time we choose to go back to taking the same action, fear feelings come up and can take over. Mostly, it is fear of failing as we think we are starting something again after we failed at it before.
How do you overcome this?
First, remember that you didn’t fail. You simply didn’t continue. The differences are subtle, but to our subconscious minds, these subtle differences are huge. Stopping doing something means you didn’t achieve an intended outcome. Failing is continuing to do something without getting the desired results. However, if you haven’t taking action long enough, you haven’t failed, you stopped too soon.
Second, how about you just don’t do it? Why not listen to yourself and don’t make yourself go on that run, tidy up your house, sit down and meditate. It takes away the fear and then the pressure goes away. The downside is that you won’t achieve the level of self improvement you were looking for in the first place.
However, there is another way to think about this: some days, if the fear is too much, it might be better not to tackle that particular action, but go and do something, anything else that is related, but less difficult for you. Frightened of going out running? Make sure you take a walk, even if it is just for 10 – 15 minutes, or do a small exercise routine at home.
Frightened of tidying up the whole house because it is too much of a mess? Why not just tidy up one table or one room, or just pick up the clothes and sort them into washing pile and hanging-up pile. Frightened of the silence that meditation brings? Just listen to a 5 minutes guided relaxation or go for a quiet walk for 10 minutes where you walk slowly and consciously without music, podcasts or any other distractions. Just do something that is a step in the right direction.
How to transition from not doing it:
While doing this action, what you do is remind yourself what you felt like when you started and when it was going well. Picture the run that made you feel really good and how you FELT while you were running – and afterwards. Remember how you sit back and relax once your house is tidy, and the feeling of satisfaction you get as you are putting items away, or the sense of peace that comes to you during a meditation. Now remind yourself of that feeling and bring it back into your body as often as you can. Allow yourself to feel that same way and observe where it sits in your body, how you breathe and what your posture is. And finally – set yourself a date when you are going to take the full action. And if you can, put a date in the diary with a friend, so that you have someone to be accountable to (and where you have to justify why you are cancelling it if you choose to do so). And that way, you are re-aligning your subconscious associations with this activity to fit with the more positive experience you actually had.
That way, you are building up your resilience and repetitive muscle, which will allow you to continue taking action more frequently and for longer each time, and that way, you will undoubtedly see the changes you are looking for.
Do you want more help or advice? Why not get in touch if you want to chat to someone.Just Don’t Do It!