Over the years I've recognized this pattern in myself...
The more tired, overwhelmed, and overworked I feel, the more I subconsciously seek out distractions and the more I find myself creating justifications/excuses for not doing the work I said I was going to do.
This has been a tricky challenge to work through because on the one hand I value the integrity that I've developed in that when I say I'm going to do something I can count on myself to make it happen. On the other hand, because I place so much value on doing what I say I'm going to do, it's easy for me to over-schedule myself and then subsequently overwork myself to the point of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, which then perpetuates this cycle of seeking out distractions to avoid the work.
It's the balance between honoring my word/intention and honoring my feelings.
I'll be honest, this is something I'm still working on and haven't fully figured out. But I have made a lot of progress and I want to share what I do know.
Firstly, have the courage to be unapologetically honest with yourself. Are you really doing the work that lights your soul on fire? If not, you are draining twice amount of energy -- the energy of doing the thing plus the energy of forcing yourself to do the thing even though you don't want to be doing it. When you do what you love to do -- when you're doing the work that feels aligned with your heart, you tap into source energy and your energy becomes nearly limitless. Have you ever noticed that when you're doing something that you really don't want to be doing the time seems to drag on and/or you feel drained very quickly? Versus times when you're doing something you really enjoy that brings you a sense of meaning and purpose and you have to force yourself to take a break because you feel like you could just keep going indefinitely?
I find that many of us (myself included) tend to fill our time with things that we feel like we "should" be doing and/or things that feel easy but may not be aligned with the heart.
So my first invitation is to take an honest look at your daily, weekly, and monthly activities and ask yourself:
What do I need to start doing that I'm not currently doing?
What do I need to stop doing that's not aligned with my heart and/or not moving the needle?
What do I need to continue doing that already working?
Secondly, open yourself up to being unapologetically compassionate with yourself. It's okay to make mistakes and learn from them. It's okay to stray off course and find your way back. It's okay to honor your feelings. It's also okay to get the job done because that's what you said you were going to do.
Being compassionate doesn't mean letting yourself off the hook and playing victim to your excuses. There's still consequences to actions. Being compassionate means you don't beat yourself up for your mistakes or shortcomings. You see things just as they are -- not better and not worse. You do everything you can to move you in the direction of your dreams, but even if you never make it there you still feel a sense of happiness and fulfillment knowing you got to partake in the journey.
Sometimes that compassion looks like giving yourself a break. Sometimes that compassion looks like continuing to put one foot in front of the other even when you don't feel like it, because you've given yourself too many breaks and you know you're ultimately holding yourself back if you don't breakthrough.
Lastly, just show up. One of the best tools I've found is also the most simple: just show up. All of the most successful people I've met and studied all have this one thing in common. They don't wait for the perfect time. They don't need to have the perfect plan put together. They just show up day after day, knowing that messy, imperfect action is better than no action at all.
Action provides momentum. Momentum is easy to maintain as long as you keep showing up. Momentum is also a great source of feedback to know what action you need to take next.
Whenever I set a goal for myself, I don't like to think in terms of projects and deadlines. Instead, I imagine what would be the smallest action I can take consistently that will move me in the right direction.
Take these emails for example. I don't always "feel" like sitting down and writing. But I tell myself to just sit down and start typing, even if it's just one sentence. In fact, that's what happened today; and here I am writing for over an hour straight.
Or meditation: instead of committing yourself to 20 minutes every day and only practicing sparsely, commit to just sitting down with the intention of meditation -- even if only for 30 seconds.
Or lifting; even if you don't have the time or energy for a full workout, just show up at gym and move your body. Again, even if only for a few minutes.
The key is in the consistency. Remember: it takes way less energy to keep something moving than it does to have to get something going again and again after it's been allowed to stop.
So whenever I find myself in that pattern of seeking distractions and ways of avoidance of the work I feel called to do, I remind myself to be honest, be compassionate, and just show up.
"I don't HAVE to do this work, I GET to do this work."
I hope this helps.
Nathan "Unapologetically' Barna