I was recently reminded how easy it is to skew off-course and fall into bad mind-habits and negativity traps, even when you know better. And I have to say, it never ceases to amaze me how the situations and times in which we are most apt to learn something we really need to know seem to crop up in our lives just when they can make the most impact. I just wish sometimes that I was better able to see these situations for the learning opportunities they are more quickly than I sometimes do. It would save me so much inner turmoil.
Still, the insights that come with understanding the difficult or frustrating situations we sometimes find ourselves in are indispensable for teaching us what we most need to learn about ourselves, and so valuable in terms of our personal growth. Even when the self-discovery shines a light on something we don’t particularly like.
Procrastination, frustration and excuses… (oh my!)
Lately, I’ve found myself struggling more and more with things like procrastination, focus and wanting to get things done. I’ve been finding it hard to come up with new ideas for blog articles, or to find the enthusiasm to finish some training programs I’m enrolled in. And I just haven’t been able to find the time or the enthusiasm to work on the course I’m designing or the book I’m writing – both of which were supposed to have been done by the end of last month. And it’s made me so mad at myself for being such a slacker and has left me upset at how off course I seem to have gotten; negativity traps, indeed.
Worse still, I keep coming up with “reasons” why this is happening: the kids have been sick and I’ve been occupied dealing with that. I’m still trying to untangle some legal stuff with my dad’s estate and it’s stressing me out. I’ve got a bunch of other “stuff” going on that’s also taking its toll on me. And on top of that I have insomnia and haven’t been sleeping well lately so I’m exhausted and finding it impossible to maintain focus even when I can find time to work on my own stuff. So basically, I’ve turned into a short-tempered, sleep-deprived, nervous frazzled wreck, sucking back far more coffee to get through the day than is probably healthy.
Negativity Traps: Do You See Cant’s or Cans?
But you know what? It’s all just a bunch of sad excuses. Because if I know that if I really wanted to get things done, I would find a way. We always find a way to fit our priorities into our schedules. Whether it’s a fitness routine or a relationship or a course that we want to take – no matter how busy our lives are, we make the time for the things that are important to us. Always. And if we’re not fitting something into our lives, then it’s because we don’t really view it as a priority, plain and simple.
I’m part of an online women’s entrepreneurial group, and someone posted in the forum that she was struggling with procrastination and overwhelm and was wondering if anyone else was, too. I responded with an “OMG… YES!” and vented about my own recent struggles in this area. Someone else posted a very practical response that basically said to get up earlier in the morning to fit stuff in. My instant, internal response was: “Yeah right… my kids are already up at quarter after five, how much freaking earlier do you want me to get up?! That’s half the reason I’m in this mess anyway… I’m freaking TIRED, lady!”
And then I realized just how unhelpful this automatic response of mine was. And I learned something from it. I realized that I had become focused on obstacles. And it wasn’t just in my unvoiced response to this woman’s suggestion – I realized that I’d fallen into one of those nasty negativity traps and instead of looking for ways to achieve what I wanted to, I was fixating on all the reasons why I couldn’t. I was focused on my cant’s instead of my cans. And I realized that this had been going on for a while, and that all this mental muck was most likely contributing to all those “reasons” I was blaming for the problem in the first place.
You can have results or you can have excuses; it’s your choice.
It really was a wake-up call, and a reminder that I choose my priorities. I choose my focus and I choose whether or not I’m going to achieve my goals. And if I decide that my goals are a priority in my life, then I’m going to have to make whatever changes are necessary in order to make them happen.
So if that means I need to restructure my day, then so be it. I will rework my schedule and find a way to make things happen. And when that little voice in my head despairs that there just aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done, then I’ll just have to find a way to become more efficient with whatever time I do have. I don’t know how I’m going to do that yet, but I have to trust myself to be able to find a way.
I have a quote that I wrote out on a little sticky note and posted to the top edge of my laptop. It says: “You can have results or you can have excuses.” And that’s something that I’ve realized that I really need to take to heart if I’m going to make this year everything that I want it to be. I can either allow myself to remain stuck in my own mental negativity traps, focused on the fact an entire month has flown by without my accomplishing a single thing that I had set out to do in this time, and I can sink into despair over the vision of a whole year flitting away in the same manner. Or I can shake it off, focus myself on the vision that I do want to see happen and then get off my hind end and go do it. I can berate myself for not getting things done, or I can use that energy to get them done, even if they’re accomplished later than I had originally planned. Either way, it is a choice.
photo credit: (c) Can Stock Photo
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The latter options are the way to go. I have been struggling with negative thoughts myself lately. It is tough dealing with them. I am trying to make my heart lighter again so it does not bog me down as it is t present and from there, things will start flowing again, as negative thoughts won’t get in the way. I think it is the thoughts more than anything else that deter us from doing the stuff we want.
That’s all we really can do — recognize what’s happening and then take steps to turn it around whenever we can. I’m not sure where you are in the world, but it’s mid-winter where I am and very cold and it’s also the part of the year with the least amount of sunlight. So it’s easy to get disheartened, which by virtue of LOA causes us to start focusing on everything else that makes us feel bad. Downward spiral. I think the key is recognizing that that’s what’s going on when it starts happening, and the deliberately taking steps to shift ourselves into a better feeling place by whatever means we can (comedy movies, blasting happy tunes, making it a point to get outside into what little sunshine there is whenever possible… whatever works for us is what we need to do).