Here’s the picture. You decide to make some changes to your life. Maybe you want to start meditating every day, or doing yoga poses, or reading uplifting books. Or maybe you want to make some changes in your working life. What do you do when the water starts to rise in your boat or the waters get rough?
Do you jump ship? Do you abandon your plans? Do you turn around and head for home? Or do you stay the course and continue on no matter the adversity you might face? It’s one thing to say we’re going to do something and it is quite another to follow-through.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that as soon as I make the intention to do or not to do something, there is an almost immediate pushback. I make the decision to walk more every day and I fall and hurt my leg, delaying my ability to walk the way I said I would. I decide to begin a particular business project that requires research and suddenly something else comes up that demands my time and attention. I have seen this happen to other people so I know it isn’t peculiar to me.
It’s almost like there’s a little gremlin that follows us around and as soon as we want to move in a particular direction, the little gremlin’s job is to put barriers in the way. Perhaps it’s just to see how serious and committed we are. I think I have found a way to deal with the gremlins. Here it is.
When we decide to make a change of some kind, we need to spend some time deciding how much we want whatever the change will bring us. Do we want it a little bit or a whole lot? Do we want it enough to make a commitment that will not be broken, no matter what happens? If we want it just a little bit and if we aren’t prepared to make a long-term commitment, then it is probably better to wait for another time.
If we truly want whatever it is and we’re willing to commit, the gremlin will still show up but it will be relatively easy to tell him or her to go away.
Another tool to use is to make a list of all the reasons we do and don’t want to do something. Say someone decides to meditate daily. Sit down with paper and pen, or open a file on the computer, and list the reasons why you want to meditate daily.
That list might include:
- Feel peaceful more often
- Concentrate my attention better
- Deal with stress at work better
- Help me on my spiritual path
- Lower my blood pressure for better health
Now list the reasons you don’t want to meditate every day:
- It takes away time from doing other things
- Others in my home will criticize me
- I can’t sit still long enough and get antsy
- My mind is too active and I get discouraged
- I am afraid of what I might experience
For each of the positive things on your list, write more about how you will feel when this happens and how it will impact your life in a positive way. What would it be like to be able to feel peaceful at your core no matter what circumstances you faced in your outer life? Write that down.
How would being able to concentrate better improve your life? How would it affect your ability to learn? To perform at work?
Continue with each positive you wrote down until you have a good picture of the benefits to making the commitment to meditate daily.
Do the same thing with the reasons you don’t want to meditate every day. Really investigate if what you wrote down is true. Will meditating every day really take away from your time? Or will being able to concentrate better give you more time during the day?
Question the validity of the reasons you wrote down. If they aren’t valid, cross them off your list. If they are valid, think about how you can lessen the impact of them.
The idea of this exercise is to give your gremlin a chance to make herself known before you start on your project. Then you won’t be surprised when she shows up. You will have an answer for her because you have already worked it out ahead of time.
When you do this exercise, you might discover you really don’t want to commit to the project. That’s fine. Now you know that and can delay the project until such time as you are ready.
More than likely, though, you will discover you really do want to proceed and you will have discovered and dealt with the gremlin’s objections in advance, clearing the way for your success.
Many people are commitment-phobic. They fear making a commitment because they want to keep their options open. “What if I start down this road and change my mind?” By spending time on an exercise like this one before making the commitment you can be sure it is what you really want, make the commitment and come closer to living the life you want to live.
We live in exceptional times where the opportunities to better ourselves are almost constant. It is one of the reasons we’re here. Wouldn’t it be nice to decide on a course of action for ourselves and follow-through with greater grace and ease? Spend some time allowing your inner gremlin to show her hand before you begin your next project and see what happens.