By Jalene Case
Behaviors move you closer to what you want. We all know this. But what happens when you don’t feel like doing the thing that you promised yourself you’d do?
Think about a new habit you’ve been trying to develop or a meaningful goal that you’re working toward. What are the consistent actions or behaviors that you must do to continue moving in the direction you want to go?
As an example, here’s a peek into how this is showing up for me right now. I’m committed to writing one blog post a month and yet, when the reminder pops up to get started, it lingers on my to-do list for a frustratingly long time. When I see “write blog” on my task list every morning for at least two weeks, I feel a punch-in-the-gut sensation every darned time. That’s followed by a smattering of negative self-talk that sounds something like this: “You need to get that done! Why do you put it off? I’m not in the mood to do it now, so I’ll wait until I have the right kind of energy and I’m excited about doing it.”
Let’s unpack that scenario and I’ll share some knowledge and techniques I’ve learned to positively support myself.
Challenge: Getting It Done
In writing classes, Kim Stafford, a friend and poet, teaches that being a writer means showing up and doing the work even if you’re not in the mood that day. In other words, don’t wait until you feel like doing the work! He and his dad, poet William Stafford, showed up at 4 a.m. nearly every day to write poetry.
The behavior of writing on a regular basis was connected to their larger vision and goals such as writing books.
Think about the behaviors that will move you closer to your vision and goals. The action step may seem small but, rest assured, when it’s done repeatedly over time, it can be mighty.
Challenge: Putting It Off
I use what I call a consistent action technique that I’ve created to support myself.
Ask yourself: What tiny, tenacious steps will lead to accomplishing my goal(s)?
Break those down into what you will do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and/or annually. Use timeframes that make sense for you. For me, this information lives in a document I designed called Self-Leadership Blueprint. Plus, I add repeating calendar reminders so the consistent actions land on my task list for the day.
Once a month I read my Self-Leadership Blueprint with nine strategies, which include visions, goals, and consistent actions. Then I adjust as needed.
Imperfectly using this process can support you in taking consistent action toward your goals.
Challenge: Not Being In The Mood
This one is tricky so let’s dig deeper into it.
Your mood, feeling, or emotion is transient. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey offers this description of what happens:
When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90-second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body, which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds. This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away. After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.
When I’m stuck in the loop of feeling an emotion over and over again, I use a strategy that a previous coach taught me. I do something different to shift my energy.
Here are some of my favorite energy-shifters: take a walk, go to a movie, listen to music and dance (I have a playlist for just these times), stretch, go outside and take some deep breaths, go work at a hip coffee shop, or listen to a guided meditation.
In my experience, once my mood has shifted, I do much better work, in a fraction of the time it would have taken me, as compared to chaining myself to the desk until I finished the project.
As you can see, I finished writing this blog post. I’m celebrating that with a, “Yay me!” and I encourage you to do the same when you complete that next tiny step. Remind yourself that you’re moving closer to what matters most to you.
How will you make consistent action part of your routine? I’d love to hear. Send me an email to Jalene@JaleneCase.com. Note: This is part five in a series of nine blog posts exploring the Self-Leadership Blueprint. You can read the previous four blogs here.
Header image by Prateek Katyal of Pexels.