For the most part, we know what we should be doing in life. We know we should be eating more vegetables, exercising more, and chipping away at projects slowly versus procrastinating. Doesn’t it seem odd that we know what we need to do to prevent ourselves from getting sick and becoming overly stressed, but we don’t always do them? It’s like the answers are literally in front of us (or a quick Google search away), yet so many us spend life-times never achieving who exactly we want to be – or do what we want to do. Especially in an information-overload time, we literally have the solutions to most problems – yet, we still have tons of problems in our lives. Since we seem to know what we need to do most of the time, the issue becomes the actual doing. So what’s stopping us from doing the things we know we need to?
The reality is, even if I have a ton of work to get done, I sometimes decide to go through my social media pages or listen to a podcast – and then feel super guilty about it later. Slash down on myself, and I even go into a comparison spiral (how does she get it all done? why can’t I be more like that?) when I KNOW I’m not doing what I should be doing – yet I can’t help it, or so it seems. When I finally get to whatever it is I need to get done, I sometimes find myself procrastinating even more – researching about the topic at hand foreverrr, talking to friends about it – basically doing everything but actually doing what I need to do. Lately I’ve been asking myself why this is – why my focus is off and I can’t seem to get things done when I know I need to. Like, it’s a simple math equation with the answer staring at me, yet I can’t write down the correct number.
There’s something going on that’s been stopping me from doing what I need to get done, and that’s probably been stopping you as well. As humans, we all face the same challenge when it comes to this issue, and sometimes it can be hard to own up to it and understand WHY we’re not doing the things we know we need to. Turns out that it all boils down to one thing: fear.
Why is it that instead of working I decide to check Instagram or my Snapchat? It’s because I’m afraid to fail – I’m afraid of whatever task is in front of me because I have no idea where to start and if I’ll be successful at it. And to counteract that fear, I find ways to avoid the potential pain or disappointment that may come my way. Here’s the crazy thing – by procrastinating or not going to the gym (or whatever you’re avoiding), we are really just helping ourselves to not do something because we’re afraid it’ll hurt us. It’s really kind of cool when you think about the evolutionary aspect of it – in the end, we’re just trying to avoid pain. And we’ll go to great lengths to avoid it. Even if something doesn’t feel crazy painful, it’s our bodies working to protect ourselves, to a degree.
To actually get to the issue at hand – DOING – we need to find ways to overcome our fears. For me, that means overcoming my fear of failing in order to try something new. It means not being afraid to take a chance, make a change or embarrass myself. Or being something that people might not expect. Not fitting into a box. What fears do you need to overcome to actually do what you know you need to? I challenge you to make a list of the things you’re scared of – this is the first step to doing.
To become an expert at anything, or to make something a part of your routine, repetition is key. If you never start something, you will never be good at it. So if you’re putting off writing, spend a couple of minutes per day doing it. If you’re worried you won’t be able to stick to a new diet, tell yourself you will stick to it for a day and then go from there. Give yourself small victories instead of worrying about tackling a huge issue at once. And when you actually start doing, you’ll build confidence and will find that your fears start disappearing. And that oddly enough, once we get over the ironic game we play with ourselves to not do something we know we should, things can become habit.
Fear should never stop you from getting something done that you know you need or want to do. Next time you feel yourself pushing something off, just remember that fear is built into us innately as humans – it’s our mind’s way of trying to avoid discomfort. Instead of trying to avoid fear, let’s teach ourselves to be okay with discomfort. If you can get comfortable with discomfort, you’ll find yourself doing a lot more of the things you know you need to.
Anyone else with me on this?
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