If you meditate, or have ever attempted to, you know that the practice involves achieving a quiet mind. And the way to get your mind to be quiet is not to somehow force out unwanted thoughts, but to allow them in each moment to occur, then – equally quickly – allow them to fade away by choosing to not to give them any attention. It’s in that fleeting instant of “blank space” before the next thought where deep openness, clarity, creativity, and the opportunity to make truly free choices reside.
Our lives are made up of a constant stream of moments and thoughts. In each moment we are actually doing something, then having thoughts about how it’s going. Sometimes we think we’re trying to do something, or to be some new way – but not actually making any progress. Now you know that is just a cover for deliberately NOT DOING the thing we say we’re “trying” to do. As humans, many of us are inclined, for many reasons, to spend lots of time “trying.” But you don’t have to accept being stuck with that habitual behavior!
To shift your internal dialogue away from “trying” and toward more “doing,” so you can accomplish the things that matter to you, requires putting a new habit solidly in place.
It takes 28 days to make a habit. See what happens in your life, and within yourself when in each moment you stop trying, and start doing. Here are 5 steps to help you on your way to a more connected, aware and empowered lifestyle:
- STOP! BREATHE! FOCUS! This not only oxygenates your brain so you literally can think better, it also stops the action and allows you to really pay attention to one thing. It is then your choice what one thing you want care most about saying, doing or envisioning (because we all need time to create the vision of where we’re headed!).This step helps you be responsive rather than reactive. Focusing on making choices of how to proceed from this moment, based on your desired outcome, doesn’t leave room for rehashing the past or worrying about what could go wrong in the future. No longer are you at the mercy of fears, impulses and auto-pilot behaviors. The ability to stop, breathe and focus provides the mechanism to truly choose your thoughts, feelings and actions.
- Right here, right now, whatever it is you were just working on or doing with your day, what is your desired outcome? For example, what is your desired outcome in reading this newsletter? To acquire new knowledge? To develop new habits? To take a break and clear your head by focusing on something that may be of interest? To discover a helpful resource? To find a specific solution to a specific problem you’re facing?
- Identify and assess your current activities. Do your actions reflect ,and lead directly to, your desired outcome? Become aware of the alignment, or lack thereof, between what you were actually doing and your desired outcome. As always, I want to emphasize that this is not about beating yourself up! Let go of the temptation to feel regret, to blame yourself or focus on “what might have been.”Getting into the habit of doing this inquiry is the point, and distinguishing when you are actually taking action toward the outcome, and when you are simply “trying” to think about the actions you say you want to take. Acknowledging the latter is what opens up the path for doing the former – and it’s the only way to find that path! You can’t change what you can’t see, after all.Since “try” is the stuck, inactive verb, you want to become increasingly aware of when you’re simply giving yourself (or anyone else, if you say it out loud) lip service.
- Pivot immediately to a response of your choice. Take whatever is the next step right away. This may be scheduling a time in your calendar to perform a particular task if it’s something you can’t do right this moment. When taking an action or planning to take one in the future, enjoy the satisfaction of making progress in advance. Notice the difference in how you feel when you’re taking action, or planning future actions, versus when you’re wasting time stuck in a reaction or autopilot.
- Take a moment to be deeply and fully aware of how you feel inside when your actions are not matching your words, versus when they are. As you increase your ability to take actions, increase as well how much you celebrate your actions and yourself. Aside from being enjoyable in the moment, the anticipation of another celebration will subtly help “pull” you toward remembering to do this process in future situations as well. This step will help you create a true habit, in which you don’t just “talk the talk” but “walk the walk,” more and more in your life.
Keep a journal to track your progress, leaving out any setbacks (the second they’re behind you, they’re irrelevant!). As always, be patient with yourself as you embrace the change from “being stuck” and passive to being active and empowered. This shift can be remarkable, both internally and externally.
Let me know how this works for you. As always, I wish you all the best as you move forward in your life!