By Wendy Rush.
The New Year often seems like a revolving door. No sooner are you carefully negotiating your entrance and getting ready to launch yourself into January, than you find yourself spinning into the next round of New Year celebrations.
And all those things you we were intent on achieving over the past 12 months are still on your “to do” list – giving up smoking, losing weight, getting fit, changing jobs, leaving that disastrous relationship, taking up that hobby you’ve always wanted to try or reading the complete Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings saga.
It’s no wonder that we find ourselves always referring to the passing of time in negative terms. “My how the year has flown”, “another year over, another year older”, “I can’t believe New Year is here already”. Unfortunately as we age the years seem to pass us by more quickly. This is probably for two reasons. As we get older our lives become busier, and the busier we are the faster time seems to fly. And proportionate to our age, twelve months becomes shorter and shorter. A year is still a reasonably long time to a 15 year old (1/15th of a life) but when you get to 40, 50 or more, it’s a pretty brief time span.
This means that the older we get the more we need to ensure we make the most of our time on earth. Unfortunately for some of us, self sabotage comes much easier than self development, preventing us from having the life we really want and, let’s face it, the life we were designed for!
What is self sabotage? It’s all those things we do that get in the way of us achieving our goals. So you wouldn’t intentionally prevent yourself from being happy, fulfilled and living the life you’ve always wanted to live, right? Wrong!
So your circumstances are just a result of bad luck, not enough time, or lack of resources? This may be true, but if we are honest with ourselves, it may not be.
My mother always told me “procrastination is the thief of time”. And she always told me this because I was a chronic procrastinator. “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow” seemed to be my motto. It took me thirty or so years to work out that putting things off until tomorrow usually meant they would never get done!
Some of us don’t do things or delay doing things because we truly believe that whatever we do there won’t be a good outcome. Why? Because we actually believe that we don’t deserve a good outcome. We believe that nothing good will ever really happen to us so there is not much point in working too hard on something that will only end in disappointment.
We deny ourselves opportunity and refuse to chase our potential because of a negative view of our own self worth.
Delaying actions or decisions can cause us additional hardship and bring disastrous results. That assignment you left until the last minute, submitted late and got low marks for; that event you were planning when you failed to book the venue in time so you missed out and had to settle for an inferior location; leaving your Christmas shopping until the last minute – not finding the right gifts then having to spend way too much. The list is endless.
Unfortunately the disastrous consequences don’t always teach us to get in and get things done early, rather they reinforce our belief that we got what we deserved. Life wasn’t meant to be easy and everything needs to be a battle. We have denied ourselves success because we don’t honestly believe that we deserve to be successful. Right?
Wrong. We all deserve to be happy, successful and fulfilled. Look at the person down the street or in the office next door, or sitting next to you on the bus. Do you agree that they have a right to be happy, successful and fulfilled? Then you need to tell yourself (over and over again if necessary) that you have a right to the same things.
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.” (Ayn Rand, Russian-born American Author)
But, you tell me, so many things are out of our control, aren’t they? Yes, there is a lot that happens in our life that is outside our control. But we all have a circle of influence within which we have total or partial control. We have control over what we do and how we respond to our circumstances. I have learnt through experience that getting upset, angry or worried over “misfortune” is a waste of energy. If there is something I can do to change the circumstances then I do it. If there isn’t, I deal with it and move on.
Never believe that your life is only ever at the mercy of outside influences. You can’t control the weather, you can’t control what other people will think or do, but by and large you are the greatest influencer you know. Use it to your advantage and spend less time feeling like a victim and more time enjoying the power that is at your disposal.
Another self-sabotage strategy is not being able to finish what you started. This means you will never get where you want to go. Again, my mother always pointed out my weakness in this area. (Mothers are great for doing this). When I fell pregnant with my first child she gleefully exclaimed “at last, this is something you’re going to have to finish!”
Being able to stick at a task and follow it through to the end will guarantee you success at whatever you tackle. We all tend to start new projects with great enthusiasm and boundless energy – much like we commence a New Year. But as time wears on our enthusiasm wanes and our attention is diverted to other more trivial things. One mistake we make is trying to do it (whatever it may be) all in one go and we assume that just because the idea is a good one it will all come together without too much of an effort. But anything that is worth anything is worth working at. Be realistic about the amount of time and effort achieving your goal will require. Plan things out and set milestones so that you can celebrate some gains along the way. This also helps you to look back and measure how far you’ve really come.
But the real biggie when it comes to not achieving your goals or failing to make improvements in your life is laziness. Lack of motivation, lack of energy and the “I’ll do it when I feel like it” mentality all stem from laziness. It reflects an undisciplined person. And it’s no coincidence that slothfulness is one of the “seven deadly sins”. It gets you nowhere and achieves nothing.
Don’t wait to do something until you feel like it, or until someone else provides you with an incentive. If you really want to achieve your goals make a plan, put together a timeline and then stick to it. A step by step approach which helps you to achieve small gains is the best way to motivate yourself. Make a “to do” list. Including a couple of things you’ve already done so you have something to cross off when you start will help motivate you. And if you are tired, eating well and doing moderate exercise will increase your energy levels. There is nothing better for sapping energy than inactivity!
Someone once said that we don’t waste time, we waste ourselves. Time will pass no matter what you do, or don’t do. Next New Year’s Eve will arrive all too quickly whether you work at achieving your goals or whether you don’t.
Time passing – quickly or otherwise – is only a negative thing if you are not moving forward and progressing along your chosen path.
In the words of Abraham Lincoln “I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back.” Keep walking forward towards your goals and next New Year’s Eve check back on the year gone by and see how much you have accomplished. Then celebrate!