Being clear on your reasons why
Posted on 17th February 2021 at 07:32
Like us, you’ve probably been amazed – and amused (!) – by just how creative people can be with their reasons for doing something. Ironically, it’s often something they admit they’d be better off not doing in the first place…
Or, perhaps, it’s for not doing something. And, again, a large dose of irony is often involved; as this usually comes straight after them saying it’s something they really want to do.
Talk about sending out mixed messages, both to ourselves and the world around us.
And, while we smile at some of the things children come out with, we’re not talking about them here. Rather those well into adulthood who really should know better.
Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to matter whether it concerns something “good” or “bad”, big or small; the creativity is there all the same. In other words, we always seem to be able to find good reasons to justify our less than perfect decisions or behaviour. And we’re using the words “good” and “perfect” relatively…
Why is this?
Well, while we’d like to think it’s all down to the specifics of whatever it is, it’s really about something much simpler and closer to home. While we don’t like to admit it, we’re all creatures of habit. We much prefer certainty and some sort of routine. To know what’s likely to happen in our lives and when. And, yes, we know this is a sweeping generalisation and we all have our own individual preferences of exactly how much certainty and routine we have in our lives. However, this doesn’t stop it from being true!
Unfortunately, there’s a big problem with certainty and routine. It happens automatically, without any conscious thought or effort on our behalf; and so becomes invisible to us. Put another way, it’s like living our lives on autopilot. Just think of all those things that just seem to happen each day...
It’s the reason why we continue doing things long after the reason – their sell by date – has passed. That’s assuming there ever was a conscious decision involved and we weren’t just following what our family – or friends – were doing. And you’d be surprised by how many things we do every day which owe more to copying what others were doing, than any conscious decision on our behalf. If you’re in any doubt, just stop and notice how many things you’re doing in exactly the same way as your parents did, even though you laughed at them when you were younger…
More importantly, it’s why doing anything “new” or “different” is seen as being such hard work, not to mention more time consuming. In reality it rarely is, but – and it’s a big BUT – because we’re doing it consciously, rather than relying on autopilot to see us through, it seems to take way more time and effort than it really does. And, from there, it’s a short step to it being seen as hard work. Little surprise we can find making any change, however small, so difficult.
However, before we’ve even got that far, we’ve often inadvertently tripped ourselves up with something else. We mentioned it at the start of this post. The mixed messages we put out about whatever it is.
On one hand saying we want to do whatever it is and then, with the next breath, coming up with a whole list of reasons why we haven’t done so. Or can’t. Or have tried to and not had the end result we would have liked and so have given up without a second attempt.
Or, perhaps, it’s the exact opposite. Saying that we know something isn’t good for us and then coming up with a long list of reasons why we can’t stop doing it. Or doing something different – and much better for us – instead.
Either way, the end result is the same. We’re saying one thing and doing another. Talk about sending out mixed messages. Put another way, it’s rather like getting in the car, saying we want to go forward and promptly putting it in reverse…
While it may be stating the obvious, saying one thing and doing another is NEVER going to get the desired result. However, it’s one thing knowing this in theory, another putting it in practice.
The good news is there’s an easy way round this. It simply requires a little thought BEFORE you start. It isn’t complicated – or time consuming – but is essential for success. What is it?
It’s about being 101% clear on your motivation for doing whatever it is. Your reasons why. Why do you – not someone else (!) – want to do whatever it is? Or, not do it?
And, if the motivation is coming from someone else, that doesn’t bode well for success. If you’re in any doubt, you only need look at the plethora of New Year’s resolutions you’ve made over the years to see this in action…
For some reason, asking about their reasons why – their motivation – seems to strike fear into many people’s hearts. However, it’s crucial to any success, big or small. After all, if you don’t have some solid reasons for doing whatever it is then why, on earth, are you doing it in the first place? Without them, it’s virtually guaranteed you’ll fall at the first fence.
Added to this, having solid “reasons why” help speed you through the initial phase when you’re having to consciously think about whatever it is; making it feel “uncomfortable” or “strange”.
However, there’s another good reason for being clear on your reasons why. It helps tune out the Little Monster in your head who is very good – and has had lots of experience (!) – of thwarting your best laid plans and intentions. Of coming up with all those reasons why you won’t be successful.
And, if this still sounds scary, here are a few tips to make the whole process much easier:
First, the “reasons why” must be PERSONAL TO YOU, not from anyone else. This means they may not make any sense – or have the desired effect – for anyone else. And that’s fine, it’s all about helping you and no one else.
Second, they must be SHORT AND SPECIFIC so you can easily remember – and, even better, picture them in your head.
Third, and equally important, is they are in the PRESENT TENSE. You’re doing whatever it is now, not will do it at some point in the future.
Fourth, they MUST be positive not negative. “I am doing x” NOT “I’m not going to do y.” Why? Because your focus needs to be on what you do want to do NOT what you don’t. For example, many people say they don’t want to be ill, then interpret it as meaning they want to be healthy. However, this is still focussing on what they don’t want, to be ill. Instead, focus on what you do want. To be in vibrant good health. It may sound like two sides of the same coin but they are diametrically opposed.
And, finally, here’s a great little trick to instantly neutralise all the reasons the Little Monster in your head comes up with. Simply turn them round by 180 degrees to get a reason why you can. In fact, you can turn this into a game on those days when the Little Monster has far too much to say about things (!).
Finding your “reasons why” is like having a magic wand. It helps smooth the way in doing something new – or different – as well as helping silence the Little Monster in your head.
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture by unknown author
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