When life gets in the way
Life gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it?
It has a habit of making unexpected demands on our time which throws out any plans we might have had the audacity to make without consulting Life first!
It’s almost as if it’s exerting its power over us, just to remind us who’s boss.
You know the sort of thing.
You get hit with the incredible combination of inspiration and enthusiasm on a wet Sunday afternoon in January and dive in to stripping the wallpaper in the hall. You know exactly what you need to do and you’ve got that shot-in-the-arm motivation to get cracking on it RIGHT NOW!
Come tea-time you’re halfway through.
And that’s the way it stays.
It leers at you every time you enter or leave the house. Hands on hips, one eyebrow raised… “Ok then, so when are you going to finish the job, huh?”
It makes you feel cross with yourself (and a bit pathetic) for not having found the time to finish it. But you’ve had to deal with <insert external life occurrences here> so it’s not surprising the flipping hallway still looks like you have a major damp problem, right?
A half-stripped hallway is a metaphor for all those things you begin with such good intentions and so much promise, then lose momentum or get disheartened with your lack of progress, run out of steam and give up on.
It might be a practical project, it might be a new fitness regime, it might be making the effort to spend more quality time with your spouse or children, it might be taking a couple of hours a week to recharge your batteries.
Whatever it is, you know that you would benefit from getting it done. That satisfaction of achievement gives you that warm glow.
In fact, the satisfaction of achieving, however small the achievement may be, is an important component of your wellbeing.
Underneath you’re feeling as if you should be able to get this stuff done.
Other people seem to be able to make progress even when life gets in the way.
You compare yourself to them and find yourself coming up short. So you beat yourself up for your perceived inadequacies. Then you blame life for getting in the way because that justifies where you’re at and makes your lack of progress a little easier to bear.
Be gentle with yourself.
You don’t consciously set out to fail so don’t beat yourself up for it.
You can’t control life, but you can control how you react to it, what actions you take in response.
The biggest obstacles aren’t external. They’re internal. It’s the way you think.
Those other people don’t have more time, money, support or luck… they just know the best way of going about things (and how to stop their thinking from sabotaging their plans).
For example, if you focus on how much progress you haven’t made, how far you still have to go, it’s not surprising that your initial enthusiasm wanes pretty quickly.
Change your focus and pat yourself on the back for the progress you have made, however small that progress may be.
You are getting there.
Keep reminding yourself how good you’ll feel when you cross that finish line.
As Stephen Covey said in his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”: Begin with the end in mind.