Taking Action

As always this time of year, there is a momentum and expectation of making resolutions for the New Year.  And just as common is the jumping off of the band wagon.

Why is it that we can be so clear on setting goals but yet be so poor at honouring our commitments to ourselves?

At our first Mindful Mamas gathering of the year, one of our facilitators (Helga Beer) lead a lovely discussion about just this. Here are the notes - hope you find them helpful in seeing what your road blocks are and supporting you in sticking with your resolutions!

Getting Things Done - why we don’t do what we say we’re going to do.

LIFE PUTS UP A ROADBLOCK: Life is full of surprises and some of them demand our attention now.

WE GET NEW INFORMATION: Flexibility is needed where it is required by life. But flexibility is often given as a noble explanation when the real issue is something else.

OUR FEELINGS HAVE CHANGED: Feelings come and go. Enthusiasm, love, depression, anger – they come and go, wax and wane, independent of our control. Often we make decisions based on our feeling state. If we don’t feel like it, we don’t do it. If we don’t feel motivated, we don’t exercise. If we don’t feel creative, we don’t sit down to write.

WE DIDN’T SET ASIDE TIME TO DO WHAT WE SAID WE WERE GOING TO DO: The unscheduled task never gets done. There is too much temptation all around us. There are too many other invitations from life, too many distractions, desires, errands, responsibilities, and interests. They will crowd in on us, they will end up taking center stage, they will sneak in from the back door.

WE’RE DISORGANIZED AND WE FORGOT OR CAN’T FIND WHAT WE NEED: Many times we make little progress on our goals because we are disorganized. We cannot find the material we need. Our goals, important as they may be, are buried beneath the details of our day. Out of sight, out of mind, out of reach.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ACTION:

BEHAVIOR WAGS THE TAIL OF FEELINGS: We may mistakenly assume that a particular feeling must precede action. We assume confidence must precede a presentation or motivation must precede exercise. Constructive action can take place independent of our feeling state – it is a question of purpose, not a question of confidence or enthusiasm. And our involvement often stimulates a change in our feelings.

EFFORT IS GOOD FORTUNE: If we only focus on the end result, we risk failure since so many of our goals depend on forces outside our control. We can write a novel, though it may never get published. We can ask someone on a date, though they may turn us down. It is nice when constructive effort leads the outcome we desire. But when it does not, the effort itself has offered us an opportunity to change and grow in a meaningful way.

REALITY IS MORE INTERESTING THAN OUR IDEAS ABOUT IT: We are blinded by our preoccupations with yesterday and tomorrow, lost in our ideas and problems and plans. By shifting our attention to life in the present moment the world comes alive and we have the opportunity to live more fully.

WE CARE ABOUT WHAT WE CARE FOR: The more attention we give to an interest or a project, the more we will care about it.

FOR ALL OF MY DREAMS, I AM WHAT I DO: To make the shift from idleness to action, from drifting to focusing is often experienced as unpleasant. It is easier to drift…..easier for the moment anyway.
 

TO FOLLOW-THROUGH:

  • Keep goals visible
  • Look at them in the morning
  • Make appointments with yourself
  • Make a contract for action with someone else.
  • Break down large tasks into small steps
  • Make things you want to do convenient and easy, and the things you don’t want to do difficult and inconvenient.
  • Pay attention.

Self-discipline and spontaneity are often contrasted but in real life self-discipline and spontaneity are the same. When we respond naturally to the circumstances reality presents and immerse ourselves in realistic activity, there is no room for thinking of ourselves as disciplined or spontaneous. We are just doing what needs to be done, pouring our lives into the moment’s activity. And then there is the next moment, and the next moment.

(Taken from “ A Finger Pointing to the Moon” by Linda Anderson & Gregg Krech - from The ToDo Institute).

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