I've been trying to write this post for the last thirty minutes. Blank white space has been dutifully waiting for me to fill it, but I've been unable to conjure my words. Instead, I've been wasting time browsing nonsense articles on the internet. Procrastinating. For no good reason.
We do this to ourselves constantly, this endless self-sabotage. We know there is work to be done, whether it's creative or career or otherwise, but we are excellent at finding loopholes to justify inaction.
What keeps us from doing? Why do I write a few sentences of this post and feel I've earned a brief distraction? Why is it so hard to focus?
An article I read recently took a look at all the justifications we love to make.
1. False choice: "I can't do this because I'm too busy doing that."
Chances are, "this" and "that" are not mutually exclusive. Doing one does not bar you from doing the other. You just don't want to make the time.
I used to tell myself the only thing keeping me from writing consistently was lack of time. Once I graduated from college, I'd have time. Once I moved back home, I'd have time. But you'll never have time if time isn't really the issue. If something is truly important to you, you'll make time. You'll adjust your schedule accordingly. But for me, the obstacle was not time but fear.
2. Moral licensing: "I've been so good so it's okay for me to do this."
Also known as, "I ate a piece of kale for lunch so I can eat fried oreos for dinner." Not quite. If your destination is a healthy lifestyle, extremes are not the path.
3. Tomorrow: "I can skip this today because I'll do it tomorrow."
"Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today." Sound familiar?
4. Lack-of-control: "I can't help myself."
This is never an excuse unless you're possessed by demon spawn or four months old.
5. Planning-to-fail: "I should remove my ex from Facebook because seeing all his pictures and statuses makes me uncomfortable, but while I'm on his profile I'll just spend some time reading everything he posted lately. Just curious."
6. This-doesn't-count: "I'm on vacation."
"I'll get back to eating healthy when I get home in five days, after I've already wreaked havoc on my digestive system which had adjusted to my new healthy diet."
7. Concern-for-others: "If I do this, others will be uncomfortable."
"If I start going to the gym every day after work, my coworkers will notice and think I'm snobby or something."
Excuses like this have nothing to do with making others uncomfortable. They have to do with you being uncomfortable venturing outside the status quo, and being worried what others will think of you for that. They may not like it. They may be jealous. Good. Be a role model.
8. Fake self-actualization: "YOLO!"
"I need to try all the things to help me find myself."
If you are expecting experiences to help you find yourself, good luck. The only place you will find yourself is inside yourself. It's like looking for your glasses while they're already on your face. Look within, not without.
9. One-time: "What will one time hurt?"
All it takes is one time to get the snowball rolling.
Do any of these sound familiar? They all sound familiar to me. And even as I read them, and even as I wrote this, I accepted that I will use them again. But to make a change, the first step is awareness. The next step, practice. Make a habit of self-empowerment.
Let's do it together.