7 ways to avoid breaking your own rules and stop settling for less.
How many times have you said to yourself, “I’m not going to eat that desert,” or “I’m definitely going to workout today,” or “I’m absolutely going to do something special for my spouse?” I have many times, and though I’m much better at it now, there were times that I wound up having extra ice cream, blowing off the gym and doing the minimum in my relationships. We all do it, yet on a regular basis we also say how we want an amazing life, how we want a life beyond our wildest imagination and how we want to be super fit and healthy. Well, until we start taking action against that negative inner voice, we will settle for less and justify our current situation. Human nature allows us to justify things that in most cases would be unacceptable. We must stop breaking our own rules.
Excuses, excuses, excuses! We’re awesome at making them. As kids we mastered the manipulation of our parents and got what we wanted. Now we’re simply manipulating ourselves, but we’re definitely not living up to our potential, we’re settling for less. This has to stop! From food to fitness to finance to relationships, it’s time to “be impeccable with your word” as Don Miguel Ruiz wrote in the Four Agreements, and live with integrity.
For every excuse that we come up with, there are droves of people who’ve abolished that excuse in their lives. I’ll never forget the time I did the NYC triathlon. It was 6:30am in New York City and a hot, humid, sticky summer day. I was dripping sweat while doing my pre-race stretches. During the run, it felt like I was breathing cotton balls. After the race, my brother said, “You didn’t look so good.” Thanks bro. But he was right, it was a tough race and I commend everyone out there for doing it. After the post-race juice, bananas, water and cheers from the fans, we had to walk back to Riverside Drive from Central Park to get our bikes. I had taken some time to relish in my race finish. My family was there to support me, so we took loads of post race photos and then finally went back to pack up my gear.
As we got closer to the transition area there was a woman, who was very overweight and she had just finished her bike leg of the race. She was about to head out to run her last leg of the race, 10 kilometers or 6.2miles in the devastating heat. You could look at her and know that with every step she was fighting that inner critic saying, “you can’t do this, you should just stop now, you’re not fit, you’re the last one in the race.” But she didn’t succumb to that voice. She spent many thousands of thoughts during training and during that race fighting off the inner beast. As she exited the transition area to begin her run, everyone in shouting distance stopped what they were doing and gave her a huge round of applause. It brings a tear to my eye to this day thinking about what she had to go through to push through her thoughts. We all have that same spirit. It doesn’t need to be a triathlon, but we can all find something that we can push through and begin living outside the comfortable box our mind wants us to. If she can do it, you can do it!
How can we begin to make these changes? It’s always easier to start with the low hanging fruit. Start with the small things first, then once you’ve mastered listening to yourself and taking the desired actions, you can then move ahead and begin setting goals just beyond your reach to improve your life and fulfill your potential. Someday soon, who knows, you might just find yourself climbing Kilimanjaro or competing in an Ironman. Or maybe for you, it’s the local 10k. Whatever it is, now is the time!
Follow these 7 steps to make the difference.
1. Awareness is key. Start becoming aware of when you say you’re going to do something and then conveniently forget or put it aside. For instance, “I’m going to clean the garage,” and it never gets done. Or, “I’m going to go to the gym,” and you wind up out of shape and injuring yourself. The sooner you become aware of your thoughts and desires, the sooner you’ll be able to work with them. It takes a village, after all, even when that village is in your own mind.
2. Understanding the mind. The mind is free to roam where it will and it definitely will. According the National Science Foundation we have 50-70,000 thoughts each day. How many of those are positive, how many are productive and how many are destructive? These are answers only you know. Most of us are overwhelmed and never really get to understand the mind. Understanding it will bring calmness and the ability to control your actions and live with integrity. A regular meditation practice will help.
3. Start with the small things. It’s much easier to section off those big tasks. Break up the garage cleaning into segments. Or instead of coming up with the best plan in the world for your spouse, do something small like write a post-it note telling them how much you love them. It’s easy to do, sometimes the mind inflates the little things.
4. Portion control. I know Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it’s the one day a year we’re allowed to over indulge. You’ll feel so much better if you access control over your unabashed desires. Have half the desert, 1/3 less wine and maybe 25% less food. I promise you’ll feel better later that night and especially the next morning.
5. Something is better than nothing. So many times I’ve wanted to blow off working out, but finally get to a point in my mind where I say, 20 minutes is better than nothing. Then I’ll wind up going for 40 minutes or an hour because I feel so good.
6. Write it down. Making lists is a profound tool to keep yourself accountable. And now with smart phones you have a virtual pad and pen in your pocket. As soon as you have that brilliant, generous, loving, self-affirming idea, write it down so you can come back to it later and execute.
7. Keep your promises. Now that you have the awareness, understand the mind and have written down your desires it’s time to keep your promises and live with integrity. Your life will change, the people around you will see you differently, you’ll feel better and most importantly you’ll an incredible example of a leader. Congratulations!
Photo Credit: flickr.com/contemplativechristian