Taking Control of Your Life


I Want To, But I Don't Feel Like It, So I Don't Do It

Do you feel like studying, working hard, or cutting your expenses to save money? Most people don't. Yet, these steps are needed for success, aren't they? Imagine if we stopped doing everything we didn't feel like doing. Such behavior would bring our success and personal development to a screeching halt. Fortunately, most of us do not neglect what is important EVERY time we don't feel like doing it.

But many do SOME of the time. Yes, they do it some of the time, again and again. Like air slowly leaking from an automobile tire, those wasted moments add up and can later lead to serious consequences. Isn't it silly to neglect important matters merely because we don't feel like taking the necessary steps?

How can we stop being controlled by our feelings and start running our lives rationally? The secret lies in commitment. "There's a difference between interest and commitment," says Art Turock, "When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results."

What is commitment? It is simply the resolve to do whatever it takes to reach one's goal. It is wholehearted dedication to a project. Commitment is an either / or situation. That is, one is either committed or not committed. One can no more be partly committed than one can be partly pregnant.

Ex Pastor Robert Moorehead eloquently describes what it is like to be committed, "My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate... at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in a maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, let up, or slow up."

You probably have heard of cases where an ordinary woman displayed superhuman strength to lift a car, fallen tree, or heavy object to free her child who was trapped below. Commitment is an inner resource available to all, but like the extraordinary strength of a mother rescuing her child, it appears only after calling on it. That is, we need to want it badly enough.

Our potential is like a child trapped under the weight of a life controlled by feelings rather than rational thought. Don't we want to set it free? Perhaps we do, but because of poor habits we may have forgotten how to awaken our powerful inner resource of commitment. The purpose of this article is to suggest steps we can take to start taking action, for we cannot commit until we take action.

1. Take a moment to think about something that is troubling you and decide to do something about it. This step is needed because we often brush our problems aside. We rather not think about them, so we seek diversions such as watching TV, partying with friends, or going shopping. But our life will not improve until we face our problems and resolve them. We have to face our problems before we can become committed to solving them.

2. If you find you don't have the energy to work on your problems, you have to ask yourself, "Do I need a break?" Sometimes it's not a matter of being lazy, but of being exhausted. You may be overworking and need a break so you can recuperate. But I have to be honest; this is not usually the case. If you are unmotivated and lack commitment it is probably because you aren't doing anything. You see, it is action that gives birth to motivation and commitment; lack of action kills them.

3. The hardest part of solving your problems is getting started. If you feel overwhelmed by the size of your problem or project, start with a baby step. The smallest step is still a beginning, and many small ones will add up to a big one

4. Every project consists of many tasks. If you try to start a task and find that no matter how hard you try you just can't start because you're not in the mood, rather than give up, switch to another task. Sometimes you need to work on the tasks that are more fun, interesting, or easier to do. You can work on the less appealing tasks when you have more energy.

5. Reward yourself. You can use a reward as an incentive. On a personal note, I don't enjoy going to the gym for a workout. But I enjoy relaxing with my wife and a cup of cappuccino. So, I make it a point to go to the gym with my wife and reward myself with a cappuccino after the workout. It's amazing how such a simple decision changes everything. Instead of dreading going to the gym, I look forward to having cappuccino (after my workout).

6. Whenever you avoid doing what should be done, you do so for a reason; there are some benefits. Ask yourself, "What are the benefits of my not taking action?" One of the benefits could be that you spare yourself the pain and effort of changing.  It is important to acknowledge this. It is only after facing our reasons for inaction that we can let them go and say to ourselves, "I don't have to run away from my problems any longer because I'm big enough and strong enough to take it. This exercise is to break the tie with an emotional reaction and form the habit of acting rationally.

7. Take responsibility. That is, stop blaming others and circumstances for your setbacks and failures. It is the choices you have made that brought you where you are today, and the choices you make today determine where you'll be tomorrow. Choose to find a solution in every problem you face, rather than finding a problem in every solution.

8. So, there's something you should be doing that you're avoiding. Well, what are the consequences of putting it off? Follow your current incorrect behavior to its logical long-term conclusion. What is the worst case scenario? Instead of avoiding the pain, face it and amplify it! The purpose of this exercise is to get your emotions working for you rather than against you. You want to feel so bad that you finally say, "That's it! I'm not going to take it anymore! I'm changing my ways NOW!"

9. You don't have to change; you have to act. Perhaps you feel stuck, stymied, or blocked. Maybe so, but you don't need therapy, a self-help book, or some good advice. All you need is to accept your feelings and act despite them! In other words, say to yourself something like, "I don't feel like acting now, but some things are more important than my feelings. For example, my success and happiness are more important than my reluctance to act. So, despite how I feel now, I'm going to do what's best for me. After all, I deserve to be successful and happy."

10. Do a cost-benefit analysis. Compare the pain of acting now with the pain you will feel in the future if you do not act. Which pain is more severe? Choose to accept a LITTLE pain now for BIG rewards in the future.

11. Focus on what you want (the benefits of acting), not on what you don't want (the pain of changing).

12. Visualize success. Relax; take a few deep breaths; close your eyes, and use your imagination to see and FEEL all the benefits of succeeding. This exercise is to dissipate resistance and build enthusiasm.

13. Ask empowering questions. Instead of whining "Why is this happening to me?" ask yourself, "How will I benefit from this challenge? What is the hidden opportunity? What valuable lesson can I learn? How many solutions can I come up with? What is the best solution?"

14. Be aware of and avoid diversionary tactics. Tom is a procrastinator. He has lots to do and keeps putting it off. Today he spent the day visiting bookstores and searched for a good book on how to end procrastination. If he really wanted a good book to help him, all he had to do was spend 15 minutes on his computer searching Amazon.com. Instead he chose to waste another day; `looking for a good book' was just a diversionary tactic to continue procrastinating.

15. Commitment begins with a decision. Decide to commit to your dreams today. Commitment is not only the gateway to success, but it will fill your life with purpose. It will give you a reason to awaken each day, provide energy, and fill you with enthusiasm.

16. Make a plan and implement it. What are your goals and dreams? Keep a journal to record them. Which one should you be working on first? What steps do you need to take to reach your goal? What are the dates that you will finish each step? Make a thorough plan and launch it.

17. Celebrate your success. Acknowledge your victories and celebrate each one. Now that you've succeeded, you don't want to rest on your laurels. Rather, you want to maintain and sustain your successes; celebrating each one will encourage you to do so.

18. Despite your successes, you may relapse and fall into a slump again. That is perfectly natural. So, expect future resistance and obstacles. Plan to smash through all barriers before they occur. Remind yourself that you are committed to success and will not allow anything to stand in your way.

19. Persist until you get it right, and keep doing it right until it becomes habitual.

If you need a little extra help in getting in control of your life, here is an outstanding guidebook: "SELF-COACHING 101, Use Your Mind - Don't Let It Use You" by Brooke Castillo. It is also available from the author's web site: (http://www.brookecastillo.com/)

Some dream of worthy accomplishments, others stay awake and do them. Which will it be for you? Your dreams are your true self trying to emerge; all it needs is your commitment to break free.

© Chuck Gallozzi
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