This has been an ongoing struggle for me for quite some time. I guess I remember it being the strongest when I was in college, but I still find myself resorting back to this thought: I’ll do the things I want to do when some condition is more favorable for that action to take place.
Or more simply:
I’ll _______ when ________.
I call it the comfort card. This statement literally gives you comfort. In the moment. You feel all warm reassuring yourself that you ARE going to be healthy, ripped, fit, flexible, responsible, happy, successful – whatever you desire – in the near future. It’s a way of making yourself feel good about what’s yet to come, but it’s also just delaying taking action. What’s not comforting, and probably more frustrating than anything, is when that time comes and you are still not doing what you truly want to do.
Here are some examples from my own life:
- I’ll stretch and practice handstands more when I move to a new place (college apartment=nasty carpet=no way am I putting my body on/face close to that)
- I’ll post more blog posts when I have more free time (I’ve given myself more, and it still hasn’t happened)
- I’ll eat better when it’s summer and I have more time (definitely used that during some of the college years)
- I’ll read more when I’m done with school (was out for almost a year before I even finished a book, which was only because of my reading challenge 🙂 )
- I’ll work out more when it’s nice out (Michigan winters… don’t even get me started)
It took me some time to realize that people who are doing the things I want to do are NOT saying this or thinking this to themselves.
You are not going to be anything you desire if you keep delaying what could be done now. You’ll never get any sort of results without putting in the work. And you’ll never put in the work if you keep making excuses about why it’s not an ideal time or situation to put in the work.
And what even is ‘ideal’? I feel like it’s just something we simply make up in our heads because we think it’s going to be more conducive to our efforts, but maybe it’s not actually as great as we think it would be. Or maybe it’s just your perspective that something is better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Don’t waste the time waiting for your conjectured ideal time to take place, because for all you know, something ELSE may be in your way when you are in what you thought would be your ideal situation!
Understand this: there will always be something in your way in regards to some facet of your life that you’re trying to improve. Hopping OVER that something or finding a way AROUND it is what is going to help you grow even more so than if your situation was ‘ideal’ in the first place. I have seen so much growth in myself by quieting the voice that says, ‘I’ll _______ when _______.’ All it takes is a choice (and maybe some creativity). You have to stop that thought before you even begin to entertain it. Although it seems more comfortable, you have to decide that now is as good a time as any! Maybe the way you do it will have to be revised a little or isn’t AS effective as you’d like, but you’re still DOING it. And I’m talking about doing the things that mean a lot to you. It seems difficult and maybe even unnatural to decide to stop playing the comfort card and do something about it in the present, but the best part is that it gets easier with practice. In time, your mind will more easily recognize when you are resorting to this idea and once that happens, you have the power to redirect your thoughts.
Here’s what a real life situation looks like for me:
I want to be more flexible and be able to do handstands. For some reason, I’ve wanted it for a long time, and it means a lot to me. I guess it just makes me so happy, helps me build strength, and I feel accomplished when I do it. I don’t like to stretch at the apartment so instead of thinking I’ll stretch when I get a new place (with clean floors!), I’ve been finding places to stretch outside in the grass. Guess what? That’s not an ideal situation for me either; we have NO YARD whatsoever. That could be another excuse, but instead I just seek out other places. And yes, sometimes it’s itchy or I get bit by mosquitoes or cars driving by see me practicing my forearm handstands in the grass, but I don’t care. I feel so content being outside, and I ALWAYS feel so great after getting in some good stretching and handstand practice. It’s kind of a blessing in disguise too because ever since my nature challenge, I have a newfound love of the outdoors. Now I think I’m more excited to stretch outside than in!
Obviously there are limiting factors that can make something very, very hard for us to do, and I don’t think you should beat yourself up over things you have no control over. Sometimes things don’t work out at certain times for more serious reasons, and it’s always important to practice self-acceptance and self-love in those times. However, I do think it’s a great skill for anyone to have to be able to recognize when we are actually making excuses and playing the ‘I’ll ______ when _______’ game because I’m willing to bet that that’s the case more often than not.
What do you think? Do you find yourself thinking like that? How do you stop yourself and redirect your thoughts to take action?
Also, one thing I recommend to kickstart your ‘take action now’ campaign is to start doing some 30-day challenges. When you have something you strive to do everyday no matter what, you begin to see that you can stomp all over excuses and make a way when there doesn’t seem to be one 🙂