Episode 109: Goal Drama and I Don’t Have Time
It’s January and the goals are the hot topic right now as well as excuses so I wanted to create a short podcast episode to help you out and maybe clear out some thought drama for many of you.
I always find it so interesting that we naturally gravitate towards goals. We want to set goals and it’s not goals per se but we want to grow. We want to see what we are capable of and a part of us gets really excited thinking about picking and setting goals but also inevitably all this potential newness – new thoughts, new agenda for ourselves that our mind stirs up a bit of thought drama.
And this is normal. Our primitive/natural man mind thrives on sameness: think the same thoughts, do the same things, sit in the same seat, take the same roads, so when your higher you, your prefrontal cortex part of you is like, “okay, THIS is the year. This is when we’re going to level up and do all the things that I’ve been saying I want to do and never do” of course your inner hobbit/aka natural man is going to have some thoughts about that.
Our natural man/primitive self is a great salesman, it’s very convincing at times because it doesn’t want you to set out into the unknown, it wants you to go back to the known – even if the known (sameness) doesn’t help you thrive, frankly it’s not focused on thriving at all; it’s main job is just to keep the human alive and when you’re stepping into new terrain it can’t predict if you’re going to be okay or not.
And all of this is important for you to know and be aware of. I’m setting all of this up because when those thoughts come and that goal drama starts chiming in you can at least know what’s happening and why. A lot of the time we have this terrible tendency and habit of believing these thoughts. Which is why most goals fall through the first week in February if not sooner. But listen, that doesn’t have to be you, that doesn’t have to be your story for 2022.
This truly can be your year where you do go after something you’ve always wanted to. So in today’s episode I’m going to talk about just a few aspects of goal drama and some strategies to keep you on the progressive path.
So first things first, most often the thought/belief that is most prominent when we’re thinking of all the things we want to do is timing. For a lot of you out there you’re telling yourself that you’re already full to the brim and there’s these things you want to do: exercise, write a book, meditate, learn a language, take a class, a skill or whatever that is for you – your brain is like, “mmm…no. When’s that happening? You don’t have time as it is!”
And the simple answer to that is, it’s just not true. There’s lots of time, plenty of time. The truth is that you’re probably telling yourself you “have” to do certain things, like, “I HAVE to do this and I HAVE to do that” and in between all the things you’re telling yourself you HAVE to do your brain just can’t see any other possibilities or options.
So the truth is you don’t HAVE to do anything. There are things you WANT to do because you like or want the consequences of that thing but you’re not being forced to do anything and when we change the story from “HAVE to’s” to a list of WANTS, it’s a game changer. Because hey, here’s this new goal that you want to do so why not throw that in with all the other wants as well?
You’re the rule maker. You’re the one telling yourself what you have to do and why you have to do it. So be honest with yourself. You don’t HAVE to do anything. You WANT to do things and I can adjust and reevaluate as often as I like.
Now another side to that same story and I say story and not simply just a thought because it’s not just a thought – The “I don’t have time” thought is never a solo thought, it’s a whole bag of beliefs and built up evidence to build that case.
So when we clean up the whole, “HAVE to’s” and change them to “WANT to’s” it helps us see other options and what’s possible for us. Now, on the other side of it we have the story that I “SHOULD”. I should do that. I should make time. I should be able to…
And again, it’s just stirring up thought drama because it’s not getting to the root of what you really think and believe about the goal. Here’s the thing with goals, we often like to set and say big things but deep down we might not be as invested or even as eager to do them but we also don’t take the time to really look at our thinking about it so we then use it as a weapon against us.
Like, “I set this goal that I was going to exercise an hour a day” and we have all these good reasons why we want that:
It feels good.
My body likes it.
I have more energy.
I like when I do that.
But when the times comes and we’re still operating with the assumption and belief that we “don’t have time” then we use those thoughts against us and beat ourselves up because we’re not doing them and that’s where the “shoulds” come back into play.
I should have exercised today.
I should have made time for that!
I should be able to follow through, what’s wrong with me?
Which takes a stark turn into a negative hole of doubt: I can’t do that. I’ve tried and it’s just not for me. I’ll never be able to…and so on.
So again, I invite you to be really, really honest with yourself. Remember, there are no rules, no shoulds, no have to’s. And when you come from that space then what’s left is do I really even want that? Do I want to commit to that?
Goals require commitment. I just said, there’s no rules and it’s true. There are no rules for what you have to do but as far as progression goes, there’s a general method and law so to speak: you need to keep going, keep learning, keep up with consistency if you’re going to learn and progress.
And that’s where commitment steps in. Commitment is the fuel for goals to be achieved. We might start a goal feeling motivated and excited about it but when the initial novelty wears off then what? What’s going to keep you moving, keep you progressing?
I’m going to do this no matter what
Which means, This is important to me and I’m going to part the Red Seas of my schedule to make this a priority for myself. It’s going to happen no matter what.
And if you’re on the fence and himming and hawing over it, like, “gosh, I just don’t know how I’m going to find the time” then you might not want to commit to it. And that’s fine. Again, no rules – you don’t HAVE to. You might just be interested in it.
There’s a huge difference between commitment vs interest.
There are so many things I’m interested in but I’m not open to carving out time for them yet. I still like them. I still like my reasons for them. I still want to dabble in that often but it’s not at the top of my list because there’s other things that I’ve decided come first.
When you can separate out and be uber honest with yourself on whether you’re
Committed or Interested then you can stop beating yourself up for not doing it. If I’m interested in something I can pick it up whenever I want to. But if I tell myself it’s my goal and inside I’m only interested and not committed my brain is still operating under the commitment rules I have for myself.
Which just feels terrible because you just beat yourself up for not doing something that you’re only kind of interested in. But you don’t know that until you have that open, honest exploratory conversation with yourself.
When you’re committed to that goal, that goal comes first and everything else gets in line. You don’t let things get in the way of your goal. It’s a part of you, it’s part of your identity and when it becomes part of your identity it’s easier to stay committed. Instead of wanting to do something, you ARE something.
Instead of, “I want to exercise more” commitment turns it to “I’m active, I’m athletic” and what do active, athletic people do? They exercise, they move, it’s part of them.
So if you’re not ready to take on that identity yet that’s totally fine. It’s perfectly okay to be interested in things. We want to stop beating ourselves up about these goals and saying we should do them when deep down we don’t really want to yet because it just creates more thought drama and pain.
So be honest and listen, just because you might be interested in it this year, who’s to say that you can’t be committed next year and go all in?
Ask yourself, Am I committed or interested? Am I going to commit to this? Am I ready and willing to make this be a central part of me?
Instead of telling yourself, “I wish I could find the time. I wish I could get myself to do this! What’s wrong with me?” And feeling awful.
If you’re committed then when your brain tries to sell you on the whole, “we don’t have time” it’s an easy response:
“That’s nonsense!” If I’m committed then I’ll make a way but if I’m just interested then that’s okay too, we don’t have to do it every day we can do it every now and then and that’s totally fine.
If you’re interested in it, BE interested in it! Stop punishing yourself for being interested and not committed. You don’t have to feel bad and think you’ve been doing it all wrong or worse that you “can’t” do it at all.
Don’t believe your brain when it’s finding excuses. Don’t believe those thoughts. They’re not true. Don’t buy into them. Don’t let them fool you.
We make things way harder than they need to be. Stop making up so many rules for yourself because you’re just going to use those “rules” against yourself and it feels terrible. Be interested, or not. Either commit or don’t. And if you don’t, it’s okay! It doesn’t have to be NOW, it doesn’t have to be this year even. It’s okay to be interested and when you allow yourself to step back and be interested in it you might decide that no, I WANT to be committed. I really want this.
It’s much more simple and easier than our brain’s try and make it. Our brain’s complicate things but commitment is simple. If I’m committed, I’m in it. I’m going to do it. Commitment doesn’t always feel good. We tend to want everything to feel good and to be easy but commitment doesn’t always feel good and that’s okay, we don’t need it to.
We don’t need to rehearse all the “happy” reasons why we want it because even that tends to create more drama. Commitment is simply, “I’m doing it no matter what”.
Our brain’s are so tricky and sly and convincing the moment and your brain will try and convince you otherwise. It’ll come up with all kinds of excuses and I really suggest keeping it simple. Just commit. It’s already a done deal. I’m all in. I don’t have to keep convincing myself over and over again. I’ve already made the decision. It’s a done deal.
And with that I can expect that there are days when I’m not going to want to do it and that’s okay too I don’t have to be entertained or motivated or even feel good to stick with it. I’m going to continue simply because I’m committed. Easy peasy.
Motivate feels good at first. It helps you gets started and it helps you finish but in the middle where it matters the most, commitment is the glue that keeps your goals, your progress consistent and fueled.
So the last thing I want to touch base on today is the tendency we have to set ourselves up for failure. We like to believe we can and want to do way more than what we really want to and are willing to do. You don’t want to commit to something that you can’t follow through on.
Years and years ago I sat down and made a list of all the things I wanted to do and goals I wanted to work on and I came up with what I called, “The daily dozen” and as I say that I’m tired already just thinking about that. I had 12 big lifestyle change type of goals. And I didn’t even really think mathematically how that would even be possible I just committed in my mind that I was going to work on these dozen things and I’d be a new me by the end of the year.
Well, that lasted I dunno, a few weeks maybe. It wasn’t long because for starters I wasn’t committed to all of them. Most of them I was just interested in but because it was on my list I made it mean that I should do it, or I should have done it. And it was just bad all around.
And you know what’s really fascinating about this idea – setting these big lifestyle change goals is that we tell ourselves we’re going to do these HUGE things without a second thought, without really thinking it through and asking ourselves if that’s what we really want even. But if someone else asked us to commit to something we’re more careful in how we respond.
Years ago I had a couple of friends invite me to join their homeschool co-op and it sounded way fun. It was a few days a week, we’d all pitch in and be in charge of certain subjects and we’d rotate houses and whatnot and I thought about it and I was like, “it sounds fun but it’s just unrealistic for me at that time”. So I was honest and said, no.
And I think we all do this. We’re much more cautious and thoughtful when it comes from someone else. But to ourselves, we make HUGE statements – I’ll NEVER eat sugar again! I’ll exercise everyday for an hour at least! And we’re setting ourselves up to fail. And its not that you CAN’T do that, it might be that you don’t really even want to do that right now. You might just be interested in it and that’s okay.
You want to start smaller. Start with something you know you can do, like I won’t eat sugar after 6:00pm or on Tuesdays. Or I’ll exercise once a week for 10 minutes. And listen, you can grow from there! You can do more. It’s more motivating to overdeliver on yourself than to fall short.
So instead of setting huge goals on the fly – and I’m all for huge goals – that’s not what I’m saying! Dream big, my friends! I’m just saying, be honest, be compassionate with yourself. Overdeliver and it feels really good to overdeliver and that feeling will launch you forward and little by little you’ll expand and grow and the best part is that you’ll feel amazing the whole time.
Okay, my catalysts. Have fun reevaluating your goals, maybe fine tuning them and taking an honest inventory of what you’ve got on your agenda for yourself and I’ll talk to you all next week! Bye my friends!