Welcome to a shiny new year! No matter where you look, you’re plied with demands to make those resolutions, pursue your best life, and have the best year YET. But do you want to know the number one thing that gets in the way of achieving those desires? If-then thinking.
I am all about curating your best life and ensuring that this year is better than the last (and the one before that….) I know that no matter what you desire, it’s possible to move towards that. However, I also know that what gets in the way is waiting until conditions are perfect.
That’s because instead of taking action now towards your desires, you set yourself up for either an unrealistic circumstance, vastly different from your current reality. Or you procrastinate to the point that not only do you not achieve your true desires, you’ll never begin.
Here’s some of those if-then thinking conditions you put on yourself:
- If I lose 50 pounds, then I can finally….
- When we finally retire, then I can….
- If the kids will just go to school, then I can…
- When the kids are finally out of the house and in college, then I will….
- If I quit my day job, then I can….
- When I meet my handsome prince, then I can…
It’s a bargain we make with ourselves, isn’t it? If-then thinking relies upon the next milestone. If-then thinking demands that conditions are perfect. You continue to make those deals with yourself and never actually pursue any of your dreams.
We tend to think that when we make those if-then bargains, we will set ourselves up for success. Waiting for the perfect timing, situation, body, financial situation or other big requirement means that you’re going to be waiting a lifetime, because life will never be perfect.
If-then thinking is really what sabotages your goals.
“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now”
— Paulo Coelho
Don’t think I don’t get it. We’re conditioned for things to be just perfect, aren’t we? All those articles you read about starting that DIET, choosing your BEST LIFE, and making those resolutions feature folks who appear pretty darned perfect. The diet websites show the AFTER shots, the life coaches touting best lives are model-perfect with glamorous photos, and so many articles seem full of DEMANDS that require an ideal job situation, financial situation, relationship status, looks….
So what can you do to stop your if-then thinking from sabotaging what you most desire? There are a few things, my dear:
Make a list of all the things you are putting off until conditions are perfect. This can be a long list or quick list of the desires that you truly have deep within.
Our thinking creates our reality, so get honest with yourself. Admit where you are allowing if-then thinking to get in the way. Reality is acknowledging where you are (overweight, working a 9 to 5, unhappy in your relationship, parenting small children, etc.) and then admitting where you just might be using that reality as an excuse. By the way: Yes, I know that sometimes, the current reality means that you can’t pursue your goal to the nth degree, that doesn’t mean you can’t move towards it, though.
Write some positive layered goals down while recognizing reality. For example:
- I am going to lose 50 pounds, and while I make progress, I’m going to focus on dressing in a flattering manner.
- I am going to lose 25 pounds and learn how to tango
- I can have a satisfying day job and write that novel. All I have to do is get up a half hour early to work on my novel and I can still pursue that promotion.
- I am going to take that trip to Europe this summer and plan for my retirement in 2020.
- My marriage isn’t at it’s best, so I’m going to choose marriage counseling and plan that vacation to Paris for the fall. With or without my spouse.
- While the kids are still in school, I’m going to commit to going on a weekly artist date.
After you’ve recognized your excuses and set a goal despite that if-then thinking of the past, choose what’s next. Make a list of all the steps to bring those desires from your mind to reality. to bring into being in the coming year. What is the first-baby step towards that desire? Yes, you are going to take some action by controlling the dialogue in your head the words that cross your lips.
Darling, I am a complete realist and recognize that yes, sometimes our circumstances can make a goal longer to reach. However, if-then thinking keeps you stuck and from making any progress towards your dreams at all. Life is short, darling, and you deserve to experience those experiences and achievements you want.
Let now be the time that you make a step forward, even if it’s a small one. Stop allowing that if-then thinking to get in the way of your desires. Your future self will thank you.
Not happy with your current circumstances?
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