It's past your bedtime as you review the day in your head, ticking off all the tasks accomplished and begrudging yourself for what didn't get done.
At night from the comfort of your bed, it's easy to agree to start on your goals tomorrow. It's so simple in fact, you're confused about why you haven't already begun.
The next morning you're planning the day out in the heat of the shower, telling yourself today might actually be the day.
But it never is, is it? That magical day when you finally get motivated and take action is always just a day away. Tomorrow you'll start your exercise routine. Tomorrow you'll begin tackling that project. Tomorrow you'll finally say what you need to say. But tomorrow never arrives.
At your best, you can apply your goals for a few days before collapsing back into the day-to-day routine of purposefully ignoring what needs to get done.
Are we masochists; do we purposefully set ourselves up for failure?
Are we afraid to fail, is that why we don't try?
I'm not sure I have the answer, but I'm confident I have proof of this; walking by the same used fabric softener sheet on my kitchen floor a hundred times and never picking it up. I delay taking my vitamins for no good reason at all. I'll find myself immensely busy with nonsense when I should be sitting down to write. And if you're human, you probably do the same things. But why?
How do we get out of this rut of great intentions and great inaction?
The majority of folks I speak with are overwhelmed, and since I suffer from extreme anxiety myself, I live daily with cases of the "too muchness".
As an added benefit I'm a woman, so I can't just roll over at night and go to sleep, I get to toil in my misery for at least thirty minutes before falling asleep. My brain can simultaneously stress about eight different things, coming to four different conclusions, to produce even more tension until the tightness in my chest is paralyzing. But usually, I just agree to go to sleep and try again tomorrow.
I was a stress-a-holic and became too overwhelmed to do anything. My to-do list only grew longer as my self-esteem continued to falter. If you're breathing, I know you've felt the same way, or maybe still do.
Here's what I did to de-stress, de-clutter my brain, and unchain myself from the guilt of being overburdened.
1. Write It Down
Are you super stressed, have a lot to do, unsure of where to start? Then write it down, whatever it is. All of it, everything you need to do. Transfer them from your brain to paper. When your worries are written down, you don't have to carry them around all day. You can fill your brain with other things to work on. You don't have to think about the end of the world at all until you're ready, and when you are, you whip out your list.
2. One At A Time
How do you walk a mile? One step at a time.
How do you eat healthy? One bite at a time.
How do you change the world? One person at a time.
How do you change yourself? One try at a time.
Nor you or I, or anyone, can do everything immediately. It's all critical, it all needs to get done, but you're not going to walk that mile any other way than one sneakered step at a time. Consider it the cost of your humanity.
You don't have to try to get up early, eat clean, exercise, and start meditating all at once, but you can start one, just one. And laser in on it.
3. Be A Laser, Not A Lamp
Look, no one's telling you not to freak out mentally. I'm a huge advocate of over worrying, delaying, and ignoring my problems. I'm even capable of turning a five-minute project into an all-day affair in my head, then conveniently running out of time to do it. I'm all about sleepless nights and long drawn out conversations covering all possible outcomes.
All I'm asking is for you take that overwhelmedness and focus it like a laser beam on that one problem or task. Don't be a lamp and worry about everything all at once, it's not useful. Take your stress, your anxiety, and freakouts and hone in on one thing at a time.
Is taking vitamins actually on your to-do list? If it is, take all your energy for the next week and laser focus it on one simple thing: swallowing a pill. And hey, all your other worries and stressors will still be there when you're ready to tackle the next one. Before you know it, you will have walked a mile, started eating healthy, tried more, and procrastinated less.
4. Start Adding On
If you're overburdened, then step four should be the easiest of all, you're already great at stacking things on top of each other. Sure, maybe it was a cascading mountain of failures, self-loathing, and fear that you were able to pile up; but you were able to add one thing after another and keep them all floating around in your head, right?
Why not try doing the same thing, just differently? (Is that an oxymoron?) If you've made a list, chosen to laser focus on drinking more water, and succeeded, that's pretty awesome. Now let's add another goal: taking your vitamins. Can you stack drinking enough water AND taking vitamins together? Can you do both?
Worrying about overeating every day AND feeling like a worthless sack of potatoes for not exercising, is proof you can do two things at once. Why not use that power for good by drinking 64oz of water a day and taking vitamins? If you can add on bad habits one after another and carry them around for years, you can add on good habits as well. See? It's the same thing, just different. Now you get it.
5. Goose, Gander, That Whole Thing
If it's possible for a goose to set aside 30 seconds every morning to tell herself she's fat and ugly when she looks in the mirror, why can't the gander take 30 seconds out of his morning to say to himself he's capable and worthy?
Think about all the things you take time out of your day to do that you don't actually need to do. Add it up. How can you better spend your time and energy? If you can spend your time one way, you can spend it another- goose, gander, that whole thing. What are you telling yourself every day?
6. Bruises Are Okay
If you're capable of worrying, you're capable of hope. The only difference is choice. Choose to keep trying when you fail, mess up, or procrastinate. Don't let your second-grade teacher warp you into thinking mistakes are bad. Mistakes are just a normal part of life.
If you're walking a mile and trip on your own two feet, you don't stop in the middle of the road and give up; you accept that you have bad coordination and keep going, one step (or trip) at a time.
If you make the mistake of enjoying a double large Twix bar from the gas station, that doesn't mean it's all over. It was a mistake that tasted awesome before the headache started, and you begin eating healthy again- one bite at a time.
You're human; you have to keep trying. I can't even think of anything natural in existence that's perfect. Even after an apple tree grows and ripens its fruit, the apple still has to fall and bruise upon landing. It's just what happens when you're alive. Be okay with that and keep trying. Mrs. Richardson in grade school was a rotten liar when she told you that you'd never amount to anything in life. Look at you now; ripe, bruised, and ready to be of use to the world. One person at a time, one bite at a time, one step at a time.
One try at a time.
Every picture on Facebook is a happy one. Friends partying at night, a family day at the park, or two lovers embracing for a selfie. Baby pictures, prom dates, graduation pictures and new haircuts load one after the other.
There's the sales ads, the chain messages you know aren't real and the few crazies sprinkled in for our own amusement. This is social media.
As much as we consume, the line between what's virtual and what's real gets blurred. The friends you have online, are your friends, not just virtual ones. We've begun blending the two realities and nothing could be more dangerous for our self esteem.
If Facebook is a representation of our lives, then we can easily assume that everyone is financially stable, happy and growing. Well, except for you of course. You're just the one scrolling through and seeing another friend lost 30lbs; a before and after picture with 50 Likes staring at you while your belly sits happily over your waist line.
Everyone has got their lives together while you're just trying to not spill your coffee down your shirt. As a matter of fact, how often do you see posts about the bad traffic or fights that were screamed out in kitchens?
You never see pictures with tears, or posts announcing someone's greatest fear. But you do see everyone's new house, new car, and new relationship, promotion, and success. Well, except for you. You're still budgeting your groceries, praying you'll have enough to cover the bills.
No one posts, "cried myself to sleep again" or "I'm afraid I'll never be loved"; and if you do, it's usually in a long string of paragraphs from the "crazy" people on Facebook, that you ignore as utter ramblers and attention seekers.
Yet, weren't you just just facing your own demons in bed last night? But you'd never share that would you?
So, if Facebook is a representation of our lives, then life is pretty damn perfect. Except for yours. You're generally running from one fire to another, not being able to put them all out, while Stacy just got done with her 5k and is on her way to Starbucks with the girls. You haven't even ran the dishwasher.
Everyone's life is beautiful, easy, seemingly perfect. Except yours. You compare yourself to the happy faces staring at you through the screen. You envy, you wish, you despise yourself for not being more. Why can't you get it together?
You can't help but compare and contrast what's right in front of you, and feed the beast yourself with your perfect moments, captured and filtered.
And while you are aiming to show your significance to the world, to say, "Hey! I'm perfect too!", someone else is looking at your filtered perfection and hating their own.
For every perfect Stacy, there is the real Stacey who feels like she's never good enough. For every John Smith who gets the girl, gets the job, and gets the life, is a man who's trying to live up to an impossible vision of what a man is.
Have you ever considered that you are someone else’s Stacey or someone's John Smith? Yes, you. Spilled coffee, dirty dishes and with only 2 pennies to rub together, you. Your life, as you present it, is greater than their reality and the same pain that afflicts you, also afflicts them.
Somewhere right now, while you're reading this, someone is scrolling through their newsfeed and seeing your post or picture, wishing they had that life. Your life. And then you're scrolling through looking at someone else's wishing it was yours: Our self esteem slowly eroding with each passing day, week and year while we are trying to stay in the game, drowning in the need to be perfect.
Everyone's life is perfect. Well, except yours. And maybe that's not such a bad thing. Maybe, your truthful representations, or honest posts that lack the gloss of a filter, can be a small reminder that perfection isn't real.
Everyone's seeing success after success. Well, except you. And maybe, that's not such a lonely place after all. Perhaps the failures that you share will encourage others in their own failings.
Everyone's happy with their looks, their finances and their lives. Well, except for you. And maybe, that's not as scary as you think it is. Maybe, your lack of money, or health, reminds someone else they aren't alone in their own lack.
Nope, you're not perfect. You don't have your shit together. You forget things, fall short, and dream more than you get done. What if you shared that with the world? What if you unfiltered your life? What would happen if we all fell in love with our real selves so we never had to share our fake selves?
Everyone else is perfect. Except you. You have the power to be authentic; and that my friend, is far better than perfect.
You said last week you'd start walking every night, well, you told yourself that last month too but it never happened. That great idea for a book you wanted to write, or the exercise routine you wanted to start, or even just reading for 30 minutes a night. Why are all these seemingly simple tasks so hard to implement?
Most of us have fallen prey to the 5 most common bad habits that left unchecked, will end up controlling your life and holding you back.
Bad Habit #1