We all have an unspoken tendency to push aside what we want – to wait for it to happen it “someday.” “Someday I’ll change careers and make more money…. Someday I’ll go back to school…Someday I’ll start investing more in myself…. We keep waiting and wanting, as if waiting and wanting is better than taking the first step and starting to work on what we want to change in our lives. Many times, when we feel that life is decent enough or ok enough, we don’t try to change anything. We just wait for weekends and vacations, passing our day-to-day in anticipation for something else. It will never be the right time. Stop waiting for it, there is no point. If you want to change certain things in your life, the time is now and today. Here are five things that you can start doing right away instead of putting your dreams, and your life, on hold.
Ask Yourself This One Question
There is one seemingly simple, and yet incredibly important question to ask yourself. Unfortunately, many of us roll on from day-to-day without taking the time to ask ourselves that simple but super-powerful question. The question is: What do I really want? Don’t leave this unanswered. Be honest with yourself. This is about you, not what your parents want, or what your spouse wishes, or what you think other people expect of you. What do YOU really want? If you can jot it down, great. But even if you cannot or don’t want to, just be very clear with yourself. Pick one thing and say it to yourself loudly in one sentence. There are no wrong answers; there are just questions that we are not asking. This is the #1 question that we should all ask ourselves every day. What do I really want? When you get the eye-opening clarity from your own answer, you have already taken a very powerful step in the right direction.
Look at Your Own Mistakes Straight in the Eye
If there is one thing I learned very early in life, it is to forgive myself for my mistakes. I aim high, but I am not a perfectionist. I know my (oh so many) shortcomings and I live at peace with myself. Interesting, though, is that the way I forgive myself for my shortcomings has changed drastically over the years. I used to accept my mistakes but try to hide them or avoid dealing with them and merely move on. Today, quite frankly, I don’t care about my ego or saving face. I just want to learn. Now, when I screw up, I look at it straight in the eye, acknowledge where this came from, and figure out how to make it better…much better. A recent study from Stanford University found that people were more likely to take responsibility for their mistakes when they believed they had the power to change their behavior. See how that works? When you believe in yourself and that you can change and grow, you are more likely to face your mistakes and learn from them. In that sense, what you believe, ends up happening; you end up changing and growing. How many of us can actually change our behavior and grow? Interesting figure: 100%.
Procrastination is a terrible form of self-sabotage. But more than just self-sabotage, it is an accumulation of bad habits in managing your day. Here are some common reasons. If you tend to procrastinate, I am sure that you will find yourself in more than one of these reasons for putting off tasks:
- In the short term, avoiding the task reduces anxiety. In the long term, however, avoiding the task increasesfeelings of anxiety and self-blame.
- Worrying we will fail.
- Worrying we will succeed. Sometimes, we are consciously or unconsciously conflicted about achieving a goal and repeatedly sabotage our own goals by procrastinating.
- Not having the confidence that we can actually complete the task. In other words, if you think you can’t do something, you are unlikely to stick with it.
- Having a hard time focusing and being constantly distracted.
- Having a hard time breaking the larger goal down into smaller, more manageable tasks
- Believing that we have to work all of the time in order to finish something.
Having some—or sometimes all—of these challenges, we adopt unproductive work habits. Rather, we get into the habit of procrastinating, not meeting deadlines and not getting things done. Since habits can be changed, procrastination should be at the top of your list. It will cause you unbelievable damage when it’s prevalent. When you get rid of it, adopt new and healthier habits. These can include anything that holds you accountable, such as keeping a short daily list of things to tackle, rewarding yourself for getting things done, dedicating 15 minutes every night for planning the next day, setting alarms and reminders on your phone, literally anything. The rewards and progress will be incredible, as well.
Stop Caring What People Think
Did you know that studies show that we consistently overestimate how much, and how badly, others think about us and our failings? This overestimation has deep roots in human history. At a time when our ancestors lived among wild animals and many dangers, they needed each other for survival. No one wanted to get left behind. Group inclusion was necessary for survival. Today, the need for acceptance—and the fear that we won’t be accepted—still have a tremendous impact on our thoughts and feelings. The need for approval has been conditioned in us from the day we were born. Approval from others gives us a sense of higher self-esteem. We’re convinced that their recognition matters to our self-worth and it affects how deeply we value ourselves. The remedy for that? Self-acceptance, which rises out of the recognition that we are, in fact, enough, just as we are. With that recognition, we can free ourselves from fear; we no longer need to look outside for a validation that, on the inside, is self-evident. We come into our power, our full humanity, in the recognition that our essential nature is all we need to be fully us.
Forget About Instant Results, Just Stick with It
Craving instant results is basically a need for immediate gratification. In other words, we want things now rather than later. There is psychological discomfort that happens when we deny ourselves something that we want right now. In prehistoric human environments, the availability of food was uncertain. Like other animals, humans would survive and reproduce if they had a strong tendency to grab the smaller, immediate reward and skip the larger but delayed reward. The human brain is therefore wired to want things now. Waiting is unpleasant; our brain wants the pleasure and gratification that is associated with getting what we want and getting it quickly. This is fine for ordering pizza or online shopping, and the commercial world certainly builds on that tendency that we all have, but it will not work when there is a process involved. When going back to school for a degree, embarking on a weight loss journey, working on a promotion, writing a book, improving your health, some processes require patience and resilience. You have to refocus your brain on your goals. How do you do that? Break everything into smaller tasks and reward yourself for those tasks completed. This way, you are reducing the risk of giving up and quitting for lack of short-term gratification. You keep yourself going toward your goal. Don’t look at the whole mountain; look at the next step you are taking, so that you get to the top of the mountain and do not fall. For better or for worse, this is your life—right here, right now. You have all of the power to make it whatever you want. So, take it into your arms and cradle it, nurture it. When is someday? Now. Someday is now.