Procrastination, in my book, is often a mis-diagnosed motivation challenge, and getting into the groove of a consistent meditation practice, regular gym visits or simply having quiet time to yourself can be a challenge for the best of us. A bit like starting house renovations which seem to go on and on, our wellness practices can feel like we’re never quite there. And at any one time there is at least one room in the house with sanded and unpainted walls as a gentle reminder that you’re not there yet. Every week that goes by you think, “This weekend, we’ll get to it this weekend”. And suddenly another month has gone by and the paint pots are still sitting patiently waiting for some action.
As for your wellbeing, perhaps it’s your yoga mat that’s waiting patiently. Or those lovely bath salts you were given last Christmas that still haven’t been opened. Or your gym membership which is exiting out of your bank account each month without you making many entrances yourself …
Most people would say they’d really like to get around to it. They want to do it. They will get around to it. They’ve just been a bit busy.
There’s been this work project on. They’re currently picking up the kids most afternoons or doing the morning school run. Or both. They’re moving house, going overseas, getting a promotion, starting a new business … and AFTER THAT they’ll get into a routine again.
And if it’s not that, it’s this: You know, I’m just a bit lazy really. I know I’d feel better if I went for a walk after work but I just feel like blobbing when I get home. I’ve never been very regular about exercise. It’s so hard to get a routine going at the moment. I don’t have anywhere to sit quietly at my place.
If you’re cringing right now then you’re not alone. I think most people on the planet go through this! And there’s a dynamic playing out here that you can influence easier than you think.
That dynamic is one of the should’s versus the could’s and can’s.
I’m guessing you know that it’s supremely good for your body to drink at least two litres of water a day, that exercise helps our mental energy and mood, and that meditation provides benefits ranging from better mental resilience and less depression to lower stress, blood pressure and pain. These are the reasons those things are good for us. But these ‘reasons’ often turn them from could-do’s into should-do’s. And as I always say – it’s just not good to should all over yourself.
In our head it sounds a bit like:
These are good for you. You should do them. You should do them regularly. Really, they are good for you. (Sigh …)
And straight away they feel like a bunch of tedious dull have-to’s like putting out the weekly rubbish sack or getting that form sent back to your accountant.
And there is usually a conversation about this going on inside you, shaped a bit like this:
Voice 1: The ‘Have-To Voice’ that probably sounds like one of your parents or early caregivers and pops up whenever you reach out to do something fun, frivolous or funky. It probably yaps at you all the time about how you need to do this, do that, and get more done.
Voice 2: The ‘Want-To Voice’ who wants you to be able to choose for yourself, who wants wellbeing and nourishment but who wants to do it your way. It doesn’t want to be told what to do. It wants to do what’s right for you.
The competition between these two can be fierce and fraught. It causes inner conflict and has you wanting to do something one minute and not the next.
And often the things that truly are good for you are being filtered through the part of you that hates being told what to do – even if it’s something it wants! A perfect recipe for procrastination!
So let that part run the show. Let it choose what’s right for you. And let it choose you.
Choosing you means doing something because it’s what you want. It means doing it for you. Not because it releases endorphin’s or makes you more muscly, but because it’s what you want for yourself (for whatever reason). Maybe you want to go walking so you can get some sun and a tan. So what. Go. Go for yourself and your own reasons.
>> A simple way to start shifting this dynamic is to take a few minutes to sit quietly and have a conference with these two parts of you/these two voices. Let the Have-To part know that it doesn’t need to boss you around anymore (it may have needed to when you were young but you’re an adult now and you don’t need it to do that anymore). Get creative and give this part a new job – re-assign it a more positive role. You could also ask it what it would like to do instead of its old job. Then let them know that you are putting your Want-To voice/part in charge of your wellbeing. Ask this part to please help you regularly tune in to your body, sense what is needed and what would be most nourishing, and take action from there.
When I had my own epiphany around this, I realised I can think about meditating or walking every day or eating the right stuff as things that I should do/that someone else is telling me to do (I definitely have one of those inner voices) OR I can do them because I choose to.
Because they are me having sovereignty over myself.
Because they are good for me.
Because they are a way of choosing me.
They are things that nourish me, strengthen me and help me to be my best self.
Why wouldn’t I choose those things?
You can choose too.
Choose for you.