It’s Thursday, so I’m Crafting my Life! I invite you to join in the fun. If you would like to share a story from your own journey, please drop me a line. If you’d like to find out more about my online class on living with intention and my upcoming e-book, visit craftingmylife.com.
I am a big fan of Gail Vaz-Oxlade. I first encountered the Canadian financial guru through her show Til Debt Do Us Part, where she helped Canadian couples solve their financial issues. When I found her on Twitter, I followed her right away, and I haven’t been disappointed. Her tweets are just as awesome as you would expect. One of them, which I should have favourited but did not, said something like this:
When you get an idea, make it happen before not acting on it becomes a habit.
I’m totally paraphrasing, and it’s probably not an accurate representation of the tweet, but the underlying point is still there. When we get a new idea, we’re often full of enthusiasm and it’s exciting and we’re making things happen. But eventually, that enthusiasm peters out, or we encounter an obstacle, or we get distracted and then it becomes awfully easy not to act. After some time of not doing anything, we become accustomed to not doing anything, and we start to have thoughts like, “Well, I guess it’s too late now.”
If I think of my own life, I can think of at least three or four things that I’d really like to do, that I’m now in the habit of not doing. When I think about them, I feel really sheepish and a little embarrassed. That embarrassment leaves me in a place where it’s easier not to think about something than to think about it, because when I do think about it I’m uncomfortable. I’m worried about what people will think if I reply to their email three months later than I should have. The little obstacles that I encountered have grown larger in my consciousness after a long period of worry, and seem insurmountable. I don’t want to quit, but it can feel like the simplest way out of the situation at that point, and so I continue to ignore things until I’ve effectively given up on them entirely.
I know that I am not the only one who does this. During the Crafting my Life class I heard many participants lament the times they’ve given up on a dream. The law of inertia holds – an object at rest tends to stay at rest. All of us find that sometimes, or maybe even most times, it’s easier to sit on the couch eating ice cream and watching TV than to make a dream happen. It’s also easier to play Angry Birds, or hang out on Twitter, or check your email. In fact, I’ve paused twice during this blog post to do other things – because those other things were just easier.
What’s the answer? How do you overcome the habit of not acting? I think that it starts by giving yourself amnesty. We all fall into the trap of not doing anything, so it’s not worth beating ourselves up over. Forgive yourself, and then ask yourself whether you’re not acting because you really don’t want the thing, or you’re not acting because you’re suffering from personal inertia. If you really don’t want the thing, then you can move on. If you really do want the thing, then spend some time thinking about how you could make it happen in your life as it is. You don’t need all the answers right away, but if you keep it in the back of your mind your subconscious will work on it and you’ll start to see how you could make it work. And then take action, before inertia overtakes you again.
I’m going to start by taking my own advice. All of those things that I meant to do and haven’t done? I’m forgiven for them. That’s in the past, and now it’s time to move on. I’m going to set a goal and then let it percolate, and see what I come up with. Then I’m going to do it – because my dreams are worth it.
Do you often find that it’s easier just not to act? How do you overcome the inertia? I’d love to hear your thoughts!