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How to Create a Non-Optional Mindset

How to Create a Non-Optional Mindset

    Towel throwers and ball droppers

    People often ask me why it is that they seem to have so much trouble sticking with their commitment to changing certain behaviours and habits; doing what they need to do to create the results they want for their life. Even though they desperately want to change something about their existence, it seems that invariably there comes a time when they simply stop whatever it was that they started. They drop the ball. Throw in the towel. Put the cue in the rack.

    Start-stop-aholics

    Why we do that is a very relevant question for most people because the vast majority of us have a history of starting and stopping certain behaviours. Time and time again. Things that we should do consistently, but for some reason, we don’t. In reality, most of us know what we need to do. And for a while, we do it. Then we stop. Again. And then we start. And stop again. I’ve said repeatedly in my workshops, we’re champs at almost doing stuff. Masters of incompletion. We have enough reasons to do it, we have the time to do it (despite what we tell others) and we certainly have the potential to create amazing results, but for some reason we seem to be start-stop-aholics.

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    A few (seemingly irrelevant) questions:

    Q. Why do you take a shower each and every day? (please tell me you shower every day!)

    A. Because programmed into your ‘how-to-live-your-life’ hard-drive is a command that says you must wash every day. For you, it’s not an optional behaviour, it’s part of your normal running pattern. As a result, you have no motivational problems and no discipline issues when it comes to your personal hygiene (I hope). It’s just a thing you do on auto-pilot. The thought of not washing doesn’t occur to you because cleanliness is one of your non-negotiable habits.

    Q. Why do parents change those stinky nappies (diapers) with no hesitation and no motivational problems? Surely that’s gotta be one of the least enjoyable and desirable tasks?

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    A. Because there is nothing in their child-raising ‘program’ (the one running in their head) that tells them that wiping their kid’s butt is optional. It’s simply something which needs to be done. They don’t give themselves the option of not doing it. Again, another non-negotiable in their daily routine.

    Q. Why does the mother run into the burning building with no hesitation to save her child?

    A. Because in her mind there is no other option. No-brainer.

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    Q. Why do so many of us who want to get in shape (whatever that means for us individually) fail to do so, even though we know exactly what to do, and why we should do it?

    A. Because we haven’t made the relevant body-changing habits non-negotiables in our life. On some level we still consider optimal eating and consistent exercise to be optional. Of course we do, otherwise we’d never have the start-stop problem.

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      Too many of us are out of shape (physically, emotionally, financially, professionally) because we haven’t made certain behaviours and habits non-negotiables in our life. You know the ones I mean. Somewhere in that lump on top of your shoulders you still consider some things to be optional, that’s why you continue to go around in circles in certain areas of your life.

      You may not even be aware of your ‘optional mindset’ but if you have a history of almost getting things done, then I’m talking to you. Do you like ending up in the same place all the time? Didn’t think so. Until you and I make those occasional behaviours, non-negotiable habits we won’t see forever results and we won’t see genuine change.

      You know what to do.

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      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

      Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

      If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

      1. Breathe

      The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

      • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
      • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
      • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

      Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

      2. Loosen up

      After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

      Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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      3. Chew slowly

      Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

      Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

      Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

      4. Let go

      Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

      The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

      It’s not. Promise.

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      Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

      Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

      21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

      5. Enjoy the journey

      Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

      Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

      6. Look at the big picture

      The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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      Will this matter to me…

      • Next week?
      • Next month?
      • Next year?
      • In 10 years?

      Hint: No, it won’t.

      I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

      Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

      7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

      You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

      Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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      8. Practice patience every day

      Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

      • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
      • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
      • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

      Final thoughts

      Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

      Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

      Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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