I loved the expression “get out of your own way” the minute I heard it. I just knew that somewhere in that bright, breezy statement was the answer to why I was often paralysed by life’s decisions. I couldn’t move forward (or even back or sideways, for that matter), because a big lump of me was blocking the way.
Why do we block ourselves? Why do we think we want something but then do nothing to actually go and get it? If you’re anything like me, you think of yourself as a “dreamer” rather than a “doer”, simply because there isn’t enough room in your head for all of the things you want to do and yet, somehow, are… not.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching and internet surfing on this topic, and I think I’ve almost figured it out. Here are five ways I know I’m getting in my own way and a few reasons why I’m so difficult to, er, move…
1. I don’t really want what I think you want. Aha! This is really the motherlode and surely the #1 reason why procrastination exists. I don’t do the things I should be doing simply because deep down I actually don’t want to do them at all. Do you suspect this might be the case for you too?
Take the big dream you’ve got that you’ve had for years and years. You’ve ALWAYS wanted to be an X, do Y or have Z. Yet you don’t. Even thought you’ve been dreaming about it for so long, you’re actually spending your whole life doing something else entirely. You’re not even close to making that dream come true: no plans, no goals, not even a baby step.
You say you lack the confidence, skills, support, education, talent, blah, blah, blah. But what have you done to fix all the little hurdles you perceive are in your way? Nothing?
Do you really want to make that dream come true? Probably not.
2. I compare myself to others. I can guarantee you that when we make it a habit to compare our work to other’s, we are going to come up short. That’s because when we look at the things we create, we are doing what we always do: starting with the flaws first and working backwards. That’s not how we look at the rest of the world, just our poor selves. In the same way that we accept compliments by saying, “oh thanks, but”, we look at how the output of our lives looks on the big stage and we think, “it’s okay, but”.
Don’t do that. Either stop looking at what everyone else is doing altogether, or start looking at your own work in the same way you critique other’s: with an open mind and heart. Focus on the good for a change and see if it makes you feel more capable, more confident and more like you matter.
3. I’m an ‘all or nothing’ kind of person. I’ve learned this year that I can still be an all or nothing person, but just about one thing at a time. Otherwise I’m either spreading myself way too thin (trying to do all the things means none of the things is done well, if at all) or feeling overwhelmed about all the things I should be doing, but I’m not.
Instead, focus on doing one thing well until it’s finished and then pick up the next thing and focus on that. This might be in its entirety (ie, “I can help you with X, but not until next Tuesday when I’m free”) or it might be a few things, just not all at the same time (ie, “I’ll work on A until 12 noon and then switch over to B”). The Pomodoro Technique is a good one for helping you find your rhythm.
4. I make excuses rather than conquer reasons. In my experience, excuses are just reasons we can’t be bothered addressing. You might feel powerless to start a new project because you’ve got the kids at home and there’s no time and you’re too fat and your husband doesn’t support you and you’ve never been very good at maths anyway, but I guarantee you that if you really want to make something happen (see point 1 above), you will find a way to get rid of all of these excuses.
We need to list every excuse we can possibly think of not to do what we want to do and then blast each and every excuse into smithereens.
Find a friend to tag team child minding for a few hours a week to make the time you need and explain to your husband how you are going to make it work and why you need him to believe in you and that you will take a basic book keeping course online at night and basically you will do what you have to do make it happen. And the fat bit – sadly that’s the worst excuse of the lot and I got nothing for you.
5. I prefer whinging to action (gulp). Harsh yes, but fair? Maybe. I know I sometimes fall into this trap, but only you can really decide whether being a person with “problems” is preferable to taking action and making changes in your life. I can tell you that being the victim is initially easier and more comfy. Getting something started takes lots of guts and hard work. You have to learn new things and make room for new routines. Sometimes you have to change the whole rhythm of your life and that’s really, really hard.
Feeling uncomfortable is something the majority of us will avoid our whole life, but, really, the only way to change is to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. If you’re the kind of person that wants things to change, but doesn’t want to put the necessary effort in to make things different, well, nothing is ever going to change. You have to make friends with uncomfortable feelings like being scared, overwhelmed, untethered and confused. It’s hard, but it’s very, very worth it.
Are you like me? How do you get in your own way and what do you think you can do about it?
More ways to support yourself:
- 5 Natural Ways to Sleep Better
- How to Slow Down in a Culture of Busy
- 5 Tricks that Will Help You Dial Down Your ‘Mum Anxiety’