How many times in your life have you asked yourself why you can’t manage to live the life you always wanted? Does it seem unattainable because the stakes are too high? Does becoming more fearless seem impossible and so you dismiss the thought of living your dreams?
It’s not always about the big changes; it’s not the obvious things that make it so hard to live a full life. You could be compromising your life without even knowing: It all boils down to the little habits we are not aware of, but changing them can truly make a difference without having to turn your life upside down.
If any of the following sounds familiar, you might want to give yourself a reality check:
1) “I Don’t Have Time” is Your Mantra
Being short of time has become part of our lifestyle. Quite often, we use the lack of time as an excuse for being afraid of actual change, although we long for it. It’s easier to complain about our stressful lives than to face what is necessary in order to live the way we want, as a change always means effort and commitment.
Do: How much time do you waste on watching TV, surfing the Internet, shopping or even at work? How much do you indulge in pure distraction? Give an honest account of what you can postpone in favour of what needs to be done, e.g. trade in your favourite TV show on Wednesday night for finally updating your CV.
Plan your days as good as you can, and block set amounts of time for important things instead of leaving control to everyone and everything else.
2) You Drag Yourself Through The Week
Once you are stuck in a rut you see no way out. Monday morning you already feel worn out because of your busy weekend. So you try to get over with your routine, and rather make plans for the weekend to make up for what you have neglected during the week. The only thing that keeps you going is the prospect of little escapes such as your next holiday.
Do: Try to live in the moment by concentrating on the tasks at hand and avoid multi-tasking as good as you can. No one can work on several projects at once without feeling stressed, and it’s less efficient, too.
Set clear boundaries at work and in your private life to create more freedom for the things that matter. Every time you say no means saying yes to yourself and your life.
3) “If Only I” is Your Greatest Excuse
There are hundreds of reasons why it’s impossible to live a life that is truly yours: If only I were younger; If only I had more time; If only I had more money; If only I were less scared; If only I were fitter; If only my kids were independent already, etc. But that’s not the real reason. Even if all of the above problems were solved, you would surely find other excuses why you can’t.
Do: Banish “if” from your vocabulary. Living your life needs no conditions apart from the will to overcome what is blocking you. Be honest with yourself. What are the real reasons for your excuses? Are you avoiding things? Do you shy away from challenges? What are you afraid of?
The truth can be painful, but very healing. Once you get it off your chest, the less it will affect your next steps. It’s all about finding solutions and not discussing problems.
4) You Don’t Know What You Want
Many people know what they don’t want, but are unable to pinpoint what they want. You can operate with the exclusion principle for a while, but it will not get you the desired results: It will lead you to keep avoiding what you don’t want. You don’t need to have mapped out your life, but you should at least have an idea about the general direction.
Do: No one is completely clueless. You might just not be bold enough to articulate it. A good exercise is to dig deeply and write everything down, no matter how small or crazy it sounds, but it needs to get out. As long as you cannot even articulate your dreams without feeling embarrassed or scared, you will never be able to change your life.
Whatever it is, don’t dismiss it just because you think that it is a stupid idea. If you don’t have a clue what you want in life, you might want to go after exactly what you’ve been avoiding.
5) You Are The Master of Procrastination
Very often, we put things off because we are afraid, but are not even aware of it. We might fear calling someone we don’t know, asking for help or even being successful. You probably have a few to do lists buried in your drawer, but the more you try not to think about it, the more annoying and intimidating the tasks. Whatever the reason, if you procrastinate the important things in life, you are hurting yourself.
Do: Do the opposite of what is advised: Grab your to do lists and put the tasks you’ve been procrastinating the longest on top. Those are the ones likely to scare you the most. Then, work your way up from the bottom, less frightening things first.
With every job that you cross off the list you can boost your self-confidence and strengthen your willpower. No matter how small or easy the task was, don’t diminish your achievement.
6) You Give Up Too Easily
Making plans is fun for most people, and they always have the very best intentions. The tricky part is to carry out what you’ve come up with. In the beginning, energy levels are up, but the moment you’re facing resistance, you give up. In the end, you make yourself believe that you’re not good enough or just blame the circumstances.
Do: There is a pattern that keeps you from succeeding. Think about the moments you failed. Was it truly because you were not capable? Maybe it’s because you couldn’t bother to prepare properly, or you got anxious. Uncover the mechanisms, note down the triggers and prepare yourself for the next challenge.
Remember: When the going gets tough, that’s exactly exactly the time to pull through.
Are you now feeling guilty of compromising your life? That’s good news. The sooner you can admit it, the earlier you can start revamping your life. I hope you don’t feel overwhelmed, however. You probably won’t be able to change everything at once, but you don’t have to. As long as you know what’s wrong, you can take one step at a time. It’s a process. What matters is what you learn while on the journey.
Have you ever had the feeling that you are compromising your life? What are the main reasons and what did you do about it? Please feel free to share your thoughts.