Let’s be honest – we all have a hard time doing shit that we say we want to do sometimes (or a maybe lot of the time!). Like exercise in the morning. Eat less sugar. Drink less. Write that book. Have that difficult conversation with a toxic friend.
We’re diving into how to get things done in Freedom School this month, and I was thinking a lot about why it can be soooo hard to do something we really want to do.
On a Saturday.
Yeah. I know…I really DO geek out on this stuff;)
Why do we have ongoing to-do lists? Why do we tolerate a sense of overwhelm, stress, busyness, and a constant feeling of things being incomplete?
I wrote this reaaaally long post in our FB group that I thought I’d share with you here, because it addresses some of our struggles with getting shit done. If you have a low attention span today, just read the bold parts
First, let me ask you: What is it in your life that you’re struggling with that prevents you from getting what you want done?
And here’s what I want you to think about it: if you always kept your word to yourself, if you always did what you said you were going to do, if you always followed through on your best-laid plans, if you always were disciplined in the actions that you wanted to take, how would your life be different than it is now?
One of the reasons why some of us humans underutilize the special part of our brain that allows us to plan into the future (it’s a uniquely human trait!) is becausewe’re constantly letting ourselves down.
We make plans, and then we don’t follow through on those plans, then we just think making plans is a waste of our time and we stop doing it and we live our life in “default” mode. Doing what we’ve always been doing, instead of what we wantto be doing.
It takes much more effort to overcome our primitive brain – that’s focused on instant gratification – than it does to live in default mode, to just keep doing what you’ve always done. It’s so much easier to just keep doing what you’ve always done.
Doing things differently requires – or seems to require – more effort, and our brain is meant to be efficient. Default is way easier.
I remember when I first started being a coach and I started setting big goals for myself and my husband (then boyfriend) came to me one day and he’s like, “You know, it’s so crazy what you do,” and I said, “What do you mean?” He’s like, “You just say you’re going to do something and then you just do it. It’s wild to me.”
Now, I want you to think about that. Why is that so wild? Why is that so surprising? Why are some people just talk? I don’t think it’s because they mean to be, I just think they don’t know how to follow through with themselves.
It’s super important to do what we say we’re going to do – it builds self-respect and self-trust and a sense of pride and integrity.
So what’s a busy freedom junkie supposed to do?
1. The first thing that I want to tell you is that in order to overcome your primitive brain, which will be the loudest part of your brain, you have to plan ahead.
Calendar your to-do list. I just wanted to get that out here in case you didn’t read anything else.
BUT before calendaring items you need to create that to-do list. Get it out of your head because some of you have all these unfinished to-dos in your brain and you don’t realize that having
to think about them over and over again and the feelings that they bring up of incompleteness, is negatively affecting you. So it’s really important to empty it out onto a piece of paper. For some of you, you could probably write for 10 minutes. It’s totally fine.
What will happen when you’ve done this list is your brain will basically have nothing left to complain about because it will all be on the list.
2. Now cross off the items you really don’t have/want to do.There are a lot of “shoulds” we tend to have one our to-do lists.
And remember (this may be controversial…but that’s how we roll!):
You don’t have to take care of your children. You don’t have to bathe. You don’thave to eat. You do not have to wake up in the morning.
You don’t even have to live.
You have freewill as a human. There is nothing on that list that you have to do. You certainly don’t have to vacuum. You do not have to cook dinner. You do not have to do laundry. You don’t have to do any of it. So stop telling yourself that you “have” to do any of it.
Like Ajan Buddhasana says, “Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to be.”
There are things that you think you think you “should” do, but you don’t want to do them, and you don’t have to do them. I give you permission right now to just never do them. Take them completely off your list!
You’re likely going to have consequences for not doing them. I want you to decide it’s OK to have those consequences for those things that you’re not going to do. Just like your reasons.
Let it be OK to not invite some people over if you’re not that into them. To have your groceries delivered instead of going to the store (one of my FAVES). To let your kiddo go to after-school care so you can get in a workout. To eat mac and cheese because you spent so much time writing your new book that you’re too tired to roast veggies.
I didn’t even do the Christmas presents thing this year. We were in the Philippines. I rented a house with two pools and a karaoke bar and invited the whole family and 30 of us partied for 3 days. No presents. I thought there’d be a huge rebellion. Nope. Apparently people prefer a 3-day party with karaoke 😉
3. Then you break down the items that made the cut – that you REALLY want to focus on – down into smaller steps.
This is super important – especially if you have a really hard time doing shit like going to the gym. Break it down into: I’ll get dressed for the gym at 7:30am. I’ll drive there at 7:45am. etc. Sometimes “going to the gym” seems too big, so the smaller steps help. This also makes allotting enough time a bit easier.
4. Now put ALL of these items into your calendar.
Here’s why: you have to consciously and deliberately supervise the primitive brain.
Now, what does the primitive brain like to do? It likes to get pleasureimmediately. That means resting, that means overeating, that means candy, that means alcohol, that means drugs if they’re available; anything to get a little short hit of pleasure is what that primitive brain has evolved to do for us.
Some of us just aren’t using our brains for what we want our brains to be able to provide us. It’s like you’ve gotten this amazing package of software in the mail and you’ve just left it in the box. That’s how some of us are using that higher portion of our brain.
But the thing with calendaring is that when you work, you’re going to be so much more productive, because if you give yourself a whole day to get your to-do list done, you know what you get done? Mostly nothing.
5. Once everything is on the calendar, you throw away your to-do list.
Now you just rely on your calendar. Ongoing to-do lists drain energy. When you put something on your calendar, consider it’s as good as done. Do it.
Remember: When the times comes, you’re going to want to eat Cheez-its in front of Netflix because your primitive brain is like, “That would be so much more fun.”
But you’ve already decided ahead of time because you know what your brain does ahead of time? It uses the prefrontal cortex, which always has your long-term best interests at heart. It’s always thinking, “If we do all these things, then we’ll have this book done and then we can sell the book.” Or, “If we do all these things, then we’ll have a business.” I”f we do all these things, then we’ll have a clean house.” “If we do all these things, then I’ll lose weight.”
If you don’t do all the things then you just stay where you are and your default mode is to just keep doing what you’ve always done.
When you overcome those urges for that instant gratification to switch into thedelayed gratification and to do the work that gives you the delayed gratification, that’s when your life completely uplevels
because you start obeying and working from the prefrontal cortex which has your best long-term interests at heart instead of acting like the primitive toddler brain that is the loudest, yelling one.
So when you come to 12 o’clock and it’s time to clean the closet and your primitive brain is rebelling, you can say, “I hear you, your opinion is noted, and we’re going to clean this closet out,” because at the end of the day, you’ll have the clean closet and the blog post written and the kitchen will be clean and dinner will be ready and you will feel PROUD.
And you won’t have done it in such a frenzied, panicked, exhausted way. You will just be honoring yourself the whole time.
Here’s what I’ve noticed to be true: When you do this, it actually energizes you because you’re honoring yourself. You’re following your commitments. You’re not thinking about all the stuff that you haven’t done. You’re not worried about all the procrastination that you’ve done. You’re not rushing because you have so much urgent stuff to be done. You’re just honoring your calendar.
Whew! OK – I hope that helps you have some ideas for how to really start getting some momentum on those things you’ve been putting off.
Ready to dive deeper into this? Check out Freedom School and see what everyone’s obsessed about. It’s not just group coaching. It’s a mindset revolution that you won’t want to miss.