We spend so much of our life talking about what we want to do, reading about what we want to do and discussing with others what we might someday do. What don’t we spend a lot of our time doing? The doing. Taking action. Doing something new or doing something we always do in a different way. Why is this a problem? For one, we are here to evolve. If we aren’t growing, we’re shrinking. The other main reason this is a problem may be of more interest to you, it creates a LOT of STRESS! Not doing what we know we “should” be doing creates stress and eats away at our self esteem. When we know what to do but we’re not doing it, we let ourselves down. Click To Tweet When we know what to do but we’re not doing it, we create stress. How? Maybe we fill our calendars so full so we tell ourselves we can’t do that new thing. Or maybe we drink enough wine at night that we numb ourselves to believe that we don’t really need to make a change at work or in our marriage. Trouble is, you’re not fooling anyone. So why aren’t we doing what we know we should be doing? In my experience, I’ve found that I don’t take action for 4 main reasons.
1) Confidence: I don’t trust my own opinion or inner guidance, what I call my inner warrior. I think I have to ask everyone else their opinion about whatever action I’m going to make. This can be something small like, “which new planner should I get” to something life-changing as in, “should I end my marriage?” This comes from my childhood and getting the message that I didn’t know what was right for me and that others had better ideas of what I needed in my life. How can we stop passing this programming down to our kids? Keeping our mouths shut when they ask us a question. Not jumping in to fix or help some situation that they’re in. Whenever they ask us for advice or help, if we first remind them that they have all the answers inside of them. That they know what’s best for them better than anyone else, including me. That we support their decision and that failure isn’t really a negative but a lesson on what not to do next time.
2) Fear of Failure: I was afraid of doing the wrong thing. Because my confidence was low, I was constantly looking externally for validation that I was okay, that I was a good person. I was so afraid of making a mistake or doing something “wrong” because that’s how I received love in my family of origin. I was praised for the A+ actions and shamed for anything less. About 10 years ago, a dear friend said to me: “You know Susie, it would be okay if you were wrong.” What she meant is that I don’t have to be perfect all the time. What?!? For real? I can make mistakes and life won’t end?This passing comment has helped to transform how I view “failure”. In doing something that doesn’t work or not doing something as well as possible, I can learn how to do it better the next time. I don’t need to be so afraid of screwing up because screwing up actually helps me learn. Even better, when I let go of my fear of failure, I actually get to do more things in my life. If I’m not so afraid of doing something perfectly, I change my focus from perfection to the experience and what I can learn in the process. I am more apt to try things that scare me because I’m less critical of myself when I fail. I now view fear as a sign being sent to me like a green light from the universe: “Go Susie! Go!”. I’m more apt to push my limits if my goal is to learn and failure is not a character flaw. If my goal is perfection, I’m going to stay in my safe box and pretend all is well. If I let go of my fear of failure, I find opportunities to push myself. Failing is an opportunity to learn. Do more. Fail More. Be More.
3) Decision Fatigue: Another reason I don’t take action is when I give myself too many choices. Do you know that Steve Jobs and Einstein wore the same thing to work every day? It wasn’t because they hate doing laundry or lacked imagination (seriously, these two?!) Rather they chose to save their brain power for more important things. In this day and age more than 400 billion pieces of information pass our brain each second. How do we manage our mind so that we don’t go absolutely batty? One way is to limit the decisions we need to make. Pare down the clothes in your closet, the utensils in your kitchen, the activities on your calendar, the times you shop. And, limit the people who you talk to before making a decision. Last year I chose to leave a job that had been a wonderful piece of my life for 11 years. In the past, I would’ve asked every friend in my circle and spent many evenings debating whether to leave or not with my family. This time? I tuned into my inner warrior and chose what was best for me as a mom, business woman, and primary bread winner. A decision that may have taken months was made in an instant. My gut, soul, and inner warrior knew what was right and when I decided to leave I could feel that inner peace. Yes, there was fear and discomfort but that comes when I’m about to grow or do something different. I knew my reasons for leaving and didn’t need to share them with any one else to be validated. After years of therapy, coaching, and self help books, I now realize my opinion is the one that matters. I now value my opinion and my views. My inner warrior knows what is best for me better than any article, any book, any friend or any family member. I am the only one who’s living my actual life and so, I have the best guidance and knowledge of what will work best for me. When I can let go of other people’s opinions, I am free to live a life that is right for me and in alignment with my values. Click To Tweet
4) Change is Hard: Our brains are wired to do 3 things: Seek pleasure, avoid pain and to be efficient. What does this mean for us when we go to change an aspect of our life? Our brain is wired to resist us. Change actually is hard! I’ve written many posts on how our brains haven’t evolved since cavewomen days and this is another example of that. Our brain is wired to keep us alive and to survive our day. However, since we’re no longer being chased by tigers, it is up to us to override our DNA. Once we understand how our brain works, we can expect the discomfort and push back and…do it anyway! Expecting the push back from our brain, we can move forward into action with the understanding that yes, initially it will be hard but down the road it will be easier. For most of my adult life, I resisted speaking up for myself to my then husband and my father. I told myself that it was too hard and it was easier to go along and be agreeable. Yes, it was “hard” to speak up and make some changes but my life today is ten hundred times easier than it was when I was stuffing down my inner warrior and ignoring my needs and desires. Want a simple example of how this works? Think of making a spreadsheet for a carpool you’re a part of. It takes time to set it up, to get everyone’s info and to share it, right?? However, once you set it up, life is good. Things flow and day to day life is easier. I’m here to encourage you to call yourself out on your BS. “If you’re only willing to do what is easy, your life will be hard.” @T_Harv_Eker Click To Tweet
So warriors, where can you take action today? A sneaky way for you to figure out where you need to take action in your life? Where your inner warrior is nudging you to change to improve the overall level of happiness in your life? Answer any of the following questions and you’re one step closer:
What do you complain about?
Where are you unhappy in your life? In a relationship or situation?
When in your day do you feel stress?
Where do you make excuses in your life?
Please email me or comment below, what action will you take? Choose to make one small shift this week. Yes it may be scary. Yes it may be hard. Yes it will be worth it. You can do hard things. I’m here to help. Big love warriors!