Today, boys and girls, we are going to talk about excuses.
Excuses sabotage everything our "best" selves intend for us. They're part of human nature. When we don't really want to do something, our very intelligent brains come up with dozens of reasons why we can't or shouldn't. The dumb thing is, we tend to spend more time futzing around with excuses and thinking and getting mad at ourselves and then soothing ourselves... we might as well have saved ourselves the time and trouble and gone ahead and done whatever we should have in the first place!
I'm going to use exercise as an example because it's what I hear the most excuses about, but you can apply this to whatever you tend to make excuses not to do. Try the following strategies to steamroll right over your excuses and create the habits you really want.
Many excuses are logistical in nature. "Lynda, I don't exercise because I don't have any time." Yes, you may be very busy. But everyone has a few minutes stashed here and there. It's a matter of figuring out where they are and how you can harness them. We make time for the things that are important to us. You don't have to exercise for one uninterrupted hour each day - that might well be unrealistic for you. But can you take a 10 minute walk on your lunch break, take the stairs at work, take your kids to play frisbee in the park while you're watching them, march in place while your working on dinner? Actually, once you actually go through your day, you probably have more time than you think. Don't take your excuses at face value. Think it through and find a way.
2. Argue with your negative thoughts.
"I can't exercise because I'm embarrassed, I look like hell, it hurts to move, I'm clumsy and feel like a dork." We're so mean to ourselves! You wouldn't say those things to a friend, or even a stranger, but chances are you have your own torturous way of thinking about yourself that holds you back from the things you really want to do, especially when it comes to exercise. Argue with those thoughts! What would you say to a friend who had heard these insults? You'd probably get mad on their behalf. Get mad at your own inner demons, and set out to prove them wrong!
3. Trick yourself.
"I really don't feel like exercising today." If you've made a commitment to yourself to exercise, you should try to follow through. Tell yourself "I'll do it for 5 minutes, and if I still don't feel like it, I'll stop." by the time you've gotten dressed and started working out, it'll feel kind of silly to stop after 5 minutes. Tell yourself "5 more, just to make it worth it." By this time, you're probably done whining anyway and just focused on getting it done.
4. Distract yourself.
Work out with a friend and chat while you do. Listen to music. Have a tv on in the background or a magazine on the treadmill. You need to focus to a certain extent, but we tend to get bored easily in our overstimulated world. Have something to hold your interest while you get the work done.
5. Enlist an accountability partner.
Make a deal with a friend, relative or coworker. Each of you will commit to the habits you're tying to create, and give each other regular status reports. If you missed a workout, you have to explain why. Make it someone who will call you on your crap, and do the same favor for them.
6. Focus on the results, not the task.
Okay, so you don't really want to exercise. But your probably DO want the benefits that come with it - increased energy, reduced stress, feeling good in your own skin, etc. The long-term results are hard to focus on, but you can also focus on the immediate feeling of accomplishment that always comes after you've fulfilled a promise to yourself to take action on something at any given time. Think how good you're going to feel after that swim class, and go do it!