We all have it sometimes. That moment when we are all fed up with everything around us. You look around you, see al the stuff that you have gathered throughout your life, you see pictures of friends and family. You see how sporty you were and how sporty you still think you look. But none of it all warms your heart. Not at this very moment. There’s something bothering you… You have some questions on your mind: why bother and keep going through this all? What’s the point of all this? 

It’s the biggest question you can ask yourself. It’s the start of something new. It’s your own monologue that turns inwards, questioning your plan for the future. Are you happy at this moment? No? Then why not change something, try something different? Because you’ve tried that more then once, it doesn’t work. 

And that’s exactly where you’ve stopped when you could and should have gone further. Why didn’t it work? Because it had no room to grow, it was doomed on forehand. The first rays of light, warmed it up and promised a bright future ahead, but soon old patterns stuck up and closed the little seedling of from sunlight. Forgotten, but not dead. Sooner or later, it will have its moment again where a little ray of sunlight touches it, encouraging it to grow. When you feel worst, that’s when the little one has its chance.

It doesn’t have to be like this. You don’t have to feel bad or annoyed with yourself to be in a state of change. This kind of depressive state is only necessary when you are at your end. Imagine you made the gap yourself, keeping it there so the little seed gets enough sunlight and time to grow until it is strong enough and old patterns can’t close it of anymore. How would that make you feel? 

There’s a way to do this. Even more, there’s a pleasurable way of doing this. Focus is what you need, life takes care of the rest. There’s not a vacuum on this planet that won’t fill up with something that resembles life. 

What’s the real problem?

When I was young, I was always surprised how fast my room was in a state of chaos. I promised myself to keep my room clean after spending a day cleaning it up. I vowed every time that from now on the cleanliness was going to last forever. Just a week later, everything was just as chaotic as it had been before cleaning up.

I noticed that cleaning up is not the same as keeping something clean. When one has a habit of leaving stuff on the floor, than it won’t take long before being back at square one cleaning up the room. It’s not that I lacked dedication to keep my promise. Whenever my room was clean, I made the effort of putting away my stuff when done. But how come that suddenly my stuff was all over the place and I could never see it coming? 

It happens when we don’t pay attention. When we are of guard, you can’t see it when it happens. Whenever I was in a hurry, I wasn’t paying attention to my promise and left stuff on the floor without knowing it. And you know how busy and distracting life can be as a child. So the real problem is not paying attention to your habits. When I was in a rush, it caused me to let my guards down about dropping stuff on the floor. Being caught up in the moment, distracted by something else, I left stuff on the floor without knowing it. Mystery solved! 

What’s the real solution?

It’s astonishing how simple a problem becomes when you know the root cause. Paying attention is the solution. If you are driving a car and a tree is blocking the road, you won’t continue driving through it. Unfortunately, executing the solution is way more difficult then simply ‘knowing it’. Let’s divide the solution into smaller parts that will make it easier to deal with it.

There are 3 crucial parts in it:

  1. The mental trigger
  2. The emotional execution
  3. The physical result

Those are 3 different moments in time that can get your attention right on it. Firstly, as with any habit, there’s a trigger. We are mostly unaware of this trigger. This is where your attention needs to be in order to change the habit, because here the execution hasn’t happened yet . Secondly, there’s the emotional execution, because the trigger caused some emotions inside (wether you noticed it or not) that started you of to do the thing you ‘wanted’ to do. This is where you can direct your attention on yourself in the moment of executing the habit. Thirdly and lastly, there’s the physical result that you can perceive with your senses. 

Your attention is mostly in this physical world, looking at the outcome, which is too late if you want to change the habit. 

Step back

For a habit to be changed, you need to step back into your footsteps. You look at a physical result and try to reconstruct the story so that you find out what the trigger is. Once you found the trigger, you can pay attention to the emotion that makes you go into the habit mode. 

For those of you that want to make it even more exciting, start asking yourself the question why this emotion triggers you? Where does that come from? Can this emotion also be experienced via another way? If so, which one. Bit by bit, by understanding the whole loop system of a habit, you will start to recognize it and will be able to anticipate it on time. This is the moment where you start to clean up the mess that is your life. 

Take action by saying ‘no’

The easiest way to get started and create some ‘space and time’ in your personal agenda is by saying no to the activities that you only do to either:

  • please other people
  • impress other people

By doing that, you will notice how much time it will save you to do something to:

  • please yourself
  • impress yourself

There’s a lot you can do that you are capable of that you didn’t give a chance before. Create some time and save some energy to do something for yourself. You can start this from this very moment on. Good luck. 

Start to pay attention to your emotions

Paying attentions is not the same as taking actions on your emotions. Emotions are to be seen as guidelines that tell you something about yourself. It doesn’t mean that you should automatically adapt your behaviour to it. For instance, when you have a client that you find it difficult to work with, then it’s totally worth it to notice that feeling and start to investigate it instead of immediately acting upon it. 

It is a sign that something is not aligned with your present being at the moment. Or vice versa, whenever something feels so good, than it’s really worth while to think about why that is. What caused exactly that feeling and how can I make sure that more of this is coming my way? 

The better you start to perceive your emotions, get to know them, the more you will be able to rely on your intuiton instead of your brainpower. Make sure that each decision improves you and your life. Emotions can change from one second to another, so make sure that you have control over them by feeling them but not letting them act through you. Emotions are volatile, they will come and go, but your actions upon them may have eternal consequences. 

In the end, the brain cooperates

It takes a while to adapt, especially after being brainwashed for such long time. But by thinking about your feelings, your actions, your mental level will adapt. Do something long enough that and you will discover the passion that is hidden in it. Small improvements caused by dedication and persistance add up and will transform you without you knowing it until somebody makes a remark about it. 

The brain is deceptive, old roads never really dissappear completely until you ingrained new habits that are stronger then the old patterns you had. Install habits that benefit you instead of depriving you from the energy that make you shine. You will forever be thankful to yourself when you really start living the life you are meant to live.