2017 is my year for being present (as you may already be aware). To me being present means being less distracted, more engaged, less “busy” and more living.
One big thing I have noticed about myself over the years is my ability to over analyse just about every situation – analysis paralysis. I can take the simplest decision and turn it into a spreadsheet and 3 month decision making process. Not only is this a huge brain drain and energy sink, but it takes me away from things that really would add value to my life. It also means I can be distracted, at least partially, by that decision, until the decision is made – so I am not really present in other parts of my life.
I have recently come across some writing and videos by Mel Robbins (author and motivation speaker among other things). She explains that the brain has a built in protection system. It’s job is to stop you doing things that may hurt you. In many cases it simply stops you from stepping out of your comfort zone, where there is no real danger. It can’t really tell danger from just being uncomfortable.
This system gets a chance to kick in when you have a thought and pause for a moment. That part of your brain starts giving you all the reasons under the sun why you shouldn’t do something. Even something as simple as getting out of bed early. For example, in winter especially, it’s way more comfortable to stay in bed, nice and cosy. If you were to get straight out of bed and not think at all – you will get out of bed, get dressed and start your day. If you lay in bed saying to yourself “I really should get out of bed, I’ll just lay here 5 mins” you will lay there way longer than 5 mins and get out of bed feeling very sluggish and slow, because your brain is telling you not to get out! Well at least that’s what happens to me.
Now that I am aware of how the brain is wired to function, I can see it happening all the time! It’s my thought processes that stop me from exercising, most of the time. I find reasons and excuses to not do it. I even tell myself I need to clean some part of the house, rather than look after myself and get some exercise (and solo time). Who would choose to do housework over – well, just about anything?!
Instead of living in the moment and living life, I find myself hiding behind excuses and an internal analysis that focuses more on doing nothing than doing something. It really doesn’t matter what it is:
- playing with the kids -> “I should clean the floors, in case someone comes over” (not that my floors look dirty)
- exercise -> “If I go now, I’ll only get to workout for 20 mins, it’s not really the ideal workout time so I shouldn’t bother, I’ll wait till I have more time”. Seriously as a certified personal trainer I KNOW something is better than nothing. 20 mins can be an awesomely (is that a word??) productive workout. And even if I just want to walk, 20 mins is a great amount of time to get moving, get outside and get some fresh air! What Mum on this planet doesn’t need that?
- Doing something new to promote my business -> “I don’t know the people I want to talk to”, “they might be very busy and see me as wasting their time”. Based on past experience, people are (in most cases) receptive to me and my business. There are plenty of people running their own business, also trying to promote their own business and can really appreciate the benefits of working with fellow business owners for mutual benefit. And you never know what you will learn by meeting new people and what new doors can be opened by them.
And while my brain talks me out of doing these things, they still remain on my agenda. They keep floating around in my head. They continue to distract me until I either get them done or they are no longer things I am able to do at all, ever.
So the change I am implementing at the moment is to stop pausing or at least being aware of the pauses that lead to analysis paralysis, and taking action instead. When I am able to do it, I feel more productive, my head is not as “busy” and I feel less weighed down. I can see more of what is going on around me and participate in it. I also like that I am growing, simply because I am allowing myself to try new things and get out of my comfort zone more. Which always leads to personal growth in some way.