Steps to Following Through
We often believe we want something… to save for a trip. To save for school. Or perhaps to save for our first car. We want better health and in our attempt to achieve it we diet, or try to. We exercise or say we will.
Why is it so hard to actually follow through?
The immediate gratification is much better than the discomfort of follow through. But that is not the only reason we struggle to actually follow through with the steps we know will get us where we think we really want to go.
One main issue could be we are heading in the wrong direction. We may believe we want to be healthy and fit. We want to lose a few pounds and exercise every day. But then we choose foods that make it harder to diet because we really don’t like them. We choose exercise that is supposed to be good for us and yet we hate doing it. Chances are, we will not follow through.
The most important first step you can take is to determine the right HOW for your desire. If you like nature, make your exercise something you do outside. If you enjoy music, perhaps your exercise should include dance classes. In other words, it is better to choose something you like than to choose an exercise for the sake of exercise.
Dieting is another one of those hard to follow through things. It is challenging to give up the tastes we love. It can be challenging to take time to prepare foods to support us. And food is such a big distraction and addiction for most of us. I notice when I am away climbing and hiking almost every day, I stick to my three meals a day. However, when I am back at work, I snack between meals. I don’t really need to diet, I need to stop snacking. Snacking gives me something to comfort me while I am doing something mentally engaging. Snacking while working on the computer or watching TV is the big challenge. My first approach to tackling this is shop when I am not hungry or rushed and to avoid purchasing snack food. If there are things to snack on and I have settled into watching TV, I get my hands busy with knitting or puzzles.
Interestingly, I will make goals to save money and then blow any savings on things as soon as I get stressed. I convince myself I need to spend on this or that. It will somehow be better. New job? I need a new computer. Lots to do at work? I need to think about house projects… painting, redecorating, new heat pump. Not enough work? I need to lower my car expenses… I should buy a new car. Not helpful for reducing overall expenses.
Follow through with money is tricky. As a culture we have access to more than we need to borrow or should borrow. Just like the Governments, we spend what we do not have with a plan of one day having it. The only advice I have on this one is accountability. Get a financial adviser who will keep you on task with spending. Listen to podcasts, audiobooks, check your balances daily and hold yourself accountable or ask someone else to hold you accountable.
What about that desire for a better job and yet we spend free time on the sofa or out with friends? Or the desire to write the next greatest novel and yet we avoid writing? There are two things here… first, understand what it is about this goal you are actually desiring. A few years ago, I made a career leap believing it was exactly what I wanted. after a few months in the new role I discovered it wasn’t really what I wanted at all. The new role was all about marketing and promotion, customer service. I am all about challenging myself and others to thrive outside their comfort zone. I am a visionary, not a pragmatist. I was disappointed, a lot poorer and pretty unhappy at the realization that what I thought I was moving from was actually more aligned with what inspires me.
How do I know what inspires me? I looked back at my youth and remembered when I was most alive. I remembered coming up with new ideas and my love for pushing myself to greater speed when running, bigger dives, longer swims and bike rides. I had dreams of always expanding. It is well worth the time to put your attention on what brings you joy and keep sprinkling that through your day.
Follow through will really be successful when you are doing what you love. Loving you. And connected to others, feeling you are supporting and being supported. That’s the real key. Understand your WHY.
Simon Sinek puts it beautifully… people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The same goes for yourself. Dieting doesn’t work if it isn’t aligned with your why. Dieting out of disgust or shame at ones’ body will not work. Dieting because you love you will. Doing work for money is an exchange that does not inspire the work. Doing work for the love of the service you get to provide and happening to receive money is the blossoming of inspiration. We can all be motivated by inspiration.
Finally…Understand how you are perceiving the world and whether that perception is accurate. I can go and teach yoga and count how many hours it takes and relate that to the pay and perhaps be disappointed. Or, I can go and teach the same yoga class and connect to those coming to my class, the stillness I get to experience at the end of each class and the beauty of the space I am in and feel rich. Which I notice and pay attention to always determines my willingness to continue to teach.
What are you paying attention to? What inspires you?