I always hear people say things like:
“I will start my diet after the holidays, after my birthday, in the summer when there is a lot of fresh produce, etc.”
“I’ll start exercising when the weather is nice in the spring.”
“When the kids go back to school, I’ll have time to start that course, that diet, that exercise program, etc.”
“I’ll give up gluten when all this food (in my pantry) is gone.”
“Once I’ve lost a few pounds I’ll join a gym. I don’t want to exercise in front of other people looking like this.”
“New Year’s is a good time to start a new habit. Pass the cookies.”
You’ve probably even said something like this. I know I have. In fact, I caught myself almost doing this recently.
I started the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol 10 days before Thanksgiving. Great time to give up all grains, sugars, nightshade vegetables, nuts, seeds, and alcohol, right? (I was already gluten, soy, dairy, and egg-free for years, so that wasn’t a problem. But no chocolate? No cashew-based pumpkin chocolate cheesecake? No red wine???)
It would have been very easy to convince myself to wait until after Thanksgiving to start the protocol. And then it would have been even easier to wait until after New Year’s, right?
Luckily, my desire for pain relief was enough to get me to stick to my guns and start on November 18. But why, so often, do we give in and procrastinate?
In my experience, there are few reasons we do this:
1. We feel overwhelmed with a new challenge or behavior and don’t know how to begin. Sometimes we try to make BIG changes all at once. If this is the case for you, try breaking down the challenge into smaller more manageable chunks. For example, instead of trying to change from the Standard American Diet to total AIP in one day, start by eliminating gluten, then dairy, then legumes, etc. Start eating more vegetables. Once you have gotten used to these smaller changes, you can then dive into the full protocol. (I’ll be unrolling a plan for making lasting dietary changes sometime soon, so keep an eye out!)
2. We are afraid of failure. I know of lot of us have tried many, many methods to improve our health struggles, with little success. It can be discouraging to think of starting yet another method or program that might not work. Mindshift time!
Don’t focus on what hasn’t worked in the past. And don’t think of whatever new change you are trying to introduce as an “all or nothing” proposition. What I mean by that is, let’s say you want to start running in the hopes it will help you lose weight. Well, it’s possible you won’t lose weight, but you might have more energy, or improved muscle tone. Or you make new friends or lower your blood pressure.
Success can be measured in different ways, so be open to different results. Which brings me to the next issue….
3. We are afraid of success. That’s right, success. Sometimes we just aren’t really ready to face the changes that might come about from our success and how that might affect other areas of our lives.
For example, I had a recent spark of insight while meditating not too long ago. It came to me that I have a little fear around letting go of my pain. It sounds absurd, I know! I mean, I want to stop being in pain more than anything! But what came to me was that in some ways pain has been a crutch for me, an excuse for not taking my business to the next level. I really needed to come to terms with my fear of stepping up my game professionally. (Also, I might be just a little afraid that my kids will want me to start cleaning the kitchen again, so they don’t have to…but there’s no chance of that happening!)
I’ve also heard of women who have held on to excess weight because they are afraid of how their marriages might change or how others will view them differently. I think one thing is certain, this fear of success thing is a topic for a whole other post.
4. We don’t have the support we need. Major lifestyle changes aren’t easy, especially when the people we are surrounded by on a daily basis might not be on board with our changes, for whatever reason. (Often because they feel their own habits or lifestyle might be threatened, or they are unhappy with their own ability to create a change in their lives.) Not having support is a very real obstacle, but luckily, it’s the easiest to solve. There are many support groups out there, both in person or online. In fact, the facebook group for She Swings on a Star is a great place to find support for making any changes that might bring you greater health or happiness.
You can also hire a professional coach – someone who is paid to support you and hold you accountable, as well as guide you and provide clarity. Working with a coach is the best way I know to create measurable, lasting transformation in your life.
So, what is it that you want to start doing? Tell me in the comments section…and then START!
P.S. The quote in the image has inspired me since I was 21. It is usually attributed to Goethe, although Goethe scholars believe that is incorrect. Although the quote as written above is well-known, it is part of a longer, lesser-known, but even more inspirational, passage, which I’d like to share here:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”