Awaken, Begin, and Continue: The ABCs of Getting Things Done

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Right now I have a drawer next to me filled with mail to go through, scans to process, and projects to complete, not to mention a to-do list with multiple tasks and projects I am dying to complete. I get distracted sometimes during the afternoons though, and the piles and lists seem to sit there untouched, day after day.

The Significance of Continue

The “continue” is silent in Awaken & Begin. As challenging as it is to get out of bed in the morning excited to start a new day, or to get up the motivation to work on something new or old, it is even more challenging to persist in our efforts towards our dreams or the completion of a project.

A lot of my personal lessons in motivation have come from Oprah, specifically her past weight loss efforts. One Friday night in the summer of 2006 I was inspired by “Oprah’s Boot Camp” to once and for all lose the excess weight that made me feel a little less good about myself throughout the years. I gave myself the weekend to indulge in pizza and all the foods that would not be allowed during my Annie Boot Camp, but knew that the following Monday would be the first day on a long journey towards a thinner version of myself.

The one thing that kept me going was that I knew with no questions, no self-doubt, that I would succeed if I just stuck to the plan. It is almost too simple, when you think about it. I had a vision of a thinner, healthier me in my mind, and every time I thought about going off the plan and eating a cookie or chips, or not getting out of bed to go to the gym, I looked at the picture of the future me I aspired to be in my mind, and I moved on. I told myself I could have a cookie another day, after I reached my goal.

The most important component of my plan was that I knew there would inevitably be moments of weakness and temporary failures.  No matter how many times I fell off the plan, I had to pick myself up and keep going forward. That was all I had to do. You might say that was the hardest thing I had to do. Yes, running on the treadmill every morning was hard, and refraining from evening cookies was a challenge. But they were nothing compared to breaking through the “give up” barrier that always stopped me in the past.

The Give Up Barrier

The give up barrier prevents us from having everything in our lives exactly as we want them. There are so many things I want to do, but I fool myself into thinking I don’t have the time to do them. Even now, during my mini-sabbatical, I am finding myself in the “no time” trap, where I am feeling busy all day, but then reach the end of the day and don’t feel that I have accomplished half of what I set out to do.

I honestly don’t think the problem is that I have too many things to do. Maybe that is delusional of me, but I truly feel that I must be wasting time with activities like scrolling through the Facebook news feed on my phone for 30 minutes, or spending 45 minutes tidying up the kitchen and shredding carrots for an afternoon snack (these are a few time drains I can think of from yesterday).

Oprah called the moment when you don’t give in to an impulse to give up a Holy Moment. That is, the moment when you reach for the cookies that will sabotage your weight loss plans but then catch yourself and walk away, or the moment you would rather vomit than get on the treadmill but do it anyway. These little moments are what make dreams come true. It is not one big dramatic action that turns a dream into a reality. It is the minor moments when we say “no” to that part of ourselves that doesn’t feel like it for whatever reason.

But I Don’t Wanna

I think the “I don’t feel like it” moments are fueled by fear, at least for me personally. There is so much fear involved in going after a dream. Fear of failure and fear of success. Fear of screwing the whole thing up, fear of not being good enough. The fear is so deep-seated that often we aren’t even conscious it is there. It is just auto-translated into “why don’t I just pick up my phone and do some Facebook stalking” or “those carrots in the fridge aren’t going to just shred themselves, are they?”.

Of course, there is a time for the Facebook checking, and a girl’s gotta eat, and it is better not to let produce go to waste. I’m just saying, priorities are hard to keep in check when there are a million little distractions we could spend time on instead of the lack luster actions that are required on the path to achieving a dream.

There is not a whole lot of glamour on the empty road to our dreams. Sometimes it is downright boring, and far less exciting than pretty much everything else screaming for our attention. So we must create our own excitement. The vision of the glorious destination is pretty powerful.

Today, I am asking myself before I pick up my phone or get up to do anything whether or not this time is being spent consciously or unconsciously, and I am hopeful that I can reign myself back in quickly each time I inevitably fall off the path.

How do you motivate yourself to resist distractions and stay focused on your important tasks? Please share your thoughts below. Namaste.

image credit: Michelle Verbeeck

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