How we sabotage our aims in life

Hi everyone,
I believe that a huge part of being happy is the feeling of being in charge of your life. I’ve come from a place where I hated my studies and the career that I got out of it. I felt like I had no saying about my everyday life, my day was completely planned by other people whose aim seemed to be, to kill the tiniest bit of motivation that I had left. I truly hated it and I was as unhappy as can be. So, I decided that my life can’t stay like that and that I need to make a change.

I started travelling and I used the time off to think about, what changes I need to make. One change was to start this little blog ;).

Change is difficult and scary for everyone (I can tell from my own experience). But it’s worth it in the end. We might have a lot of motivation and we might know why we want to change. So we start highly motivated but after a week or so, we get lazy. Why is that?

The thing is that everything new takes effort and every effort it going to suck as soon as the first wave of motivation is not going to carry us any longer.

When you start learning a new language, it sucks because you have to invest a lot of energy and you will only get very little out of it in the beginning. When you start working out, it sucks because your muscles are going to hurt and it is exhausting. When you start writing a blog, it sucks because you will have to learn HTML language although you can’t even change the format of a word document ;). Everything new sucks before we master it! (Not a nice pep talk, is it :D?) The solution would be to tell ourselves to just stick with it. Easier said than done! Every intelligent person knows that we need to stick with things although we don’t always feel like it. So, why is it that we know what to do but then do the opposite – like watching cute cat videos on youtube instead of learning HTML language?

The reason is a tiny mechanism in our brain that we still have from Stone Age.  Back the it came in very handy but today it sabotages our success in the modern world. Our brain will always choose comfort today over comfort in the future. This phenomenon has been described very well by researchers. For example, if we have the choice of 50€ now or 60€ in a month, the majority of people will choose the 50€ now. Funny enough, when we have to choose between 50€ in 12 month or 60€ in 13 month, we’ll choose the 13 month (although we will be confronted with exactly the same problem of having to wait one month longer after 12 month). The explanation is this: Our modern society is very young and our brains didn’t have the time to evolve from cavemen to people in suits working in skyscrapers. Our brains are designed for a life in small groups, where people didn’t get very old and our top priority was to eat and to mate today (Because tomorrow we might already been eaten by a saber-tooth tiger). Confronted with the question if they want a piece of meat now or pieces of meat in one month the smart caveman will always choose the meat today. And those smart people were those who survived and actually got the chance to mate. So they are modern society’s grandfathers. No surprise that we inherited their way of thinking. And that is why we, in our modern society, still choose the today over the tomorrow although it will sabotage our overall life success.

Now, what can we do in order to circumvent this obstacle? I have a few mechanisms that I do to trick my brain into doing what I want. First, I don’t allow the excuse that I don’t feel like it. As I just mentioned above, I will never feel like it, so I don’t listen when the caveman inside of me starts to complain. I let him scream and shout but do what I want anyway. Second, I’ve stopped using the snooze button of my alarm clock. Think about it, the first thing we do every morning is to throw all of our ambitions away, to get more things done later, for a little more comfort now! How is this ever going to be a successful day, if the first thing we do is to surrender to laziness? The third thing that I do is to start the day with something that brings me one step closer to my aims. This can be sending out an important email or doing some sports. For example, I joined the 30 days of yoga challenge. So, the first thing I do in the morning is to do 30 minutes of yoga. You simply start the day with a completely different attitude, when you know that you are one step closer to your aims. Fourth I like to set a time, where I will definitely stop working, no matter what. So, everything that is not done by then will definitely not be done today. The thing is that, when I know that I have a lot of time, I will spend it doing nonsense and I will end up working till 10pm without actually being efficient. With this little trick, I make sure that I get things done efficiently and actually still have some time to relax and to recharge. This way I will still have energy to work the next day.

In many situations in life, you will have the motivation and the willingness to do something to get closer to your aim, but you are simply stuck. If your leg is broken, there is no way that you will go for a run. But maybe you can try to ensure that your training levels are not dropping too fast by watching your nutrition or doing arm workouts. The idea of doing the next immediate step is a nice mindset to get unstuck.
With these few tricks you might at least get a little closer to the aims and the dreams you have in life.
All the best!


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