As promised, today we’re going to be talking about cutting through mental clutter as well as decluttering your time so that we can work toward implementing some goals. I’m a big fan of having processes anytime we want to tackle a new goal or make lasting change. I also believe that there are three steps you can take in almost any situation to get after what it is you’re trying to do. Here are the parts of my own Three-Step Approach:
Today, we’re going to apply these steps to see how they work.
We need to start out by unburdening the mind. If you read yesterday’s post, I left off by giving you an exercise. I asked you to write down what you wish your life looked like. I asked you to write down what it is that you truly want for your life and for your future. These were the examples I used:
- I want to reconcile my relationship with my mother.
- I want to lose 40 pounds.
- I want to start my own dog training business.
- I need to separate myself from someone because the relationship is toxic.
- I want to quit my job because my boss is a lunatic, narcissist, sociopath who makes my life hell.
So many people are convinced that they can’t achieve or even set goals for themselves because they don’t have time. Well, I’m convinced that time is only part of the issue. We’re going to address time in a minute, but first, let’s address the cluttered mind.
Yesterday, I talked about how drama, fear, lack of clarity, and regret could be some of the reasons you’re living a life that isn’t your own. Let’s look at how we can clean up our thoughts to free up some mental space so that we can replace them with thoughts that will serve us.
To get started, I’m going to pull an example from above that we can work from. Let’s tackle the goal of losing 40 pounds. Here are some of the thoughts that might be going through a person’s head when they’re stuck and cannot lose weight:
- My whole family is overweight, why should I be any different?
- I’ve been overweight my whole life, there’s no point in trying to lose the weight now.
- I’ve tried everything: diet plans, exercise programs, hypnotism…nothing works.
- It’s too hard.
- I don’t know where to start.
- I don’t have time to work out, grocery shop, and cook all that healthy food.
- I’m embarrassed to work out in a public setting because of my size.
Our next step is to get our thoughts and our intentions organized. What we want to do is take a look at which of these statements are true. A lot of it IS true, so we can’t discount that. It IS true that they’ve been overweight their whole life, that their family is overweight, that they’ve tried losing weight in the past and nothing has worked. These are very real statements.
The problem is that those statements become stories that become mantras that become family legend that becomes gospel.
Once those “truths” are such an ingrained part of your life, unwrapping, loosening, cutting, cleaning, and eliminating them appears almost impossible.
This is where we need to look at those statements and recreate a new truth. This is part of the “organizing”. I’m not saying we’re going to tell ourselves lies, because our subconscious can detect that a mile away. What I’m saying is that we’re going to shake up these thoughts so that they start moving on, and we replace them with new ones.
Let’s see how these thoughts could look if we re-framed them:
- My whole family is overweight, but I don’t have to be.
- I’ve been overweight my whole life, but I don’t want to continue to live the rest of my life overweight.
- I’ve tried everything: diet plans, exercise programs, hypnotism…nothing
workshas worked so far, I will find a solution that is right for me. It’s too hard.I am worthy of the hard work this is going to require.
- I don’t know where to start. But I know there are great resources out there and I’m going to begin looking.
I don’t have time to work out and grocery shop and cook all that healthy food.It’s worth it to me to make the time required to work out, grocery shop, and cook healthy food because it’s an investment in my health, my future, and my family. I’m embarrassed to work out in a public setting because of my size.I’m going to start working out in a private setting so that I can feel more comfortable.
All we did was trade one set of thoughts for another set of thoughts. I know that I made it sound easy. It’s the furthest thing from easy. Those old thoughts are sometimes seemingly ingrained into our very cells and changing them feels overwhelming.
Don’t try changing them all overnight and expect results immediately. This is something you’ll want to try out for a few weeks before you even see yourself actually doing something. Just start out with changing your thoughts. That’s your first big hurdle. This is the beginning of the shift.
I’ve written about affirmations and “I am” statements in the past, and this is one of those times where you’d want to write some for yourself. A few that would go along with our example here are:
- I enjoy being at my ideal, healthy weight.
- I have so much energy and love my active lifestyle.
- Meal planning is an easy part of my daily life, and I look forward to spending time in my kitchen preparing healthy food for myself and my family.
Oh, I know how cheesy these sound – it’s not lost on me. But again, as we did yesterday, these are only for you, and no one else needs to see them. Just start out by saying them to yourself a few times every day. Look in the mirror when possible. After a few weeks, you’ll start to believe these statements and soon your life will start to catch up with your thoughts.
If you don’t love affirmations, you can also try gratitude. Each morning, start out by saying aloud the things you are grateful for, even if they’re not yet true.
- I’m grateful for my strong, healthy body.
- I’m grateful that I have time every week to prepare and cook healthy food.
- I’m grateful that my ex-boyfriend’s jaw dropped when he saw me at my high school reunion coming up next Spring. (This one may not actually work, but I am a big fan of visualization for the future, so if it does work, let me know!)
So now we need to solve the problem of decluttering your time so that you are free to start pursuing your goals.
Truth bomb: you already have plenty of it.
Yes, so that was a tough one for me to realize, too. Until I started to take a serious look at how I was spending the time I have. When I studied the habits of successful people and found out how they were spending their time, I realized I had a whole lot of changes to make. Here are some things we’re too busy doing that are robbing us of pursuing some goals:
- Staying up late binge watching television or playing video games.
- Spending weekends binge watching television or playing video games.
- Spending weekends attending events or participating in activities we’ve agreed to out of obligation.
- Looking at our smart phones for endless hours every week to check updates on social media from people we hardly know.
I’m in no way suggesting that some of the events you go to on weekends that you should cut out are things like your kids’ soccer games or your best friend’s wedding. But that crusty neighbor down the street who somehow guilted you into helping out with her garage sale? No.
And I love television as much as anyone, but it’s so easy for hours to slip away without you even noticing. To pull once again from our above example, time that could be spent preparing food, or getting to bed early so that you can get up and get a workout in before work.
Okay, so some of you may be thinking, “whatever, I never watch television, I’m strict about my time on my smart phone, and I have awesome boundaries and never get sucked into doing things I don’t want to do.” Good. So is the real issue time at all? Or is it once again a “thoughts” issue?
These are the folks that I think of as “busy distracting themselves”. They’re the folks who really appear to be “go getters” because they’re so unbelievably productive, but when you dig deep and really get to know them, you find out that they have buried huge dreams because of some story they’ve told themselves long enough to believe it, and now they stay busy and productive constantly so that they can shut that small voice inside of them up. The one that is trying to say, “There’s still time. Remember me? Remember the things we were going to do?”.
What are the stories you’ve told yourself long enough that you believe them? If you’re not sure, I promise you there are a ton of them, and we don’t always even realize we can change them, or at least change their ending. Here are a few popular ones:
- No one in my family has graduated from college.
- I don’t know anyone else who owns their own business.
- The women in my family just don’t have a lot of luck finding good men.
- I’ve always been shy.
- I’ve always been broke.
- Work is supposed to suck, that’s why it’s called work.
- Rich people are miserable, selfish, greedy jerks. I don’t want to have money and become like that.
- I’m not that smart.
- I’m not very attractive.
- I’m bad at math.
- I’m a slow reader.
- I can’t retire until I’m 65.
Applying the Three-Step Approach
How can you apply the three-step approach (unburden, organize, shift) to an area of your life you want to overhaul? How can you change the endings of your stories? What “I am” statements or affirmations can you create to start changing the thought patterns that are so deeply entrenched in your mind?
Again, I highly recommend NOT trying to make changes overnight. Start by changing your thoughts and the stories you tell yourself. For a few weeks, do only this and nothing else. Eventually, you’ll notice the shift that comes with your new thoughts that are starting to become your new beliefs about yourself and your own life and your behavior will soon follow.
I’d love to hear from you. Go ahead and try out this three-step approach and follow up with me to let me know how it worked in your own life. Touch base with me here on the blog, or on Facebook or Twitter.
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