We say things that we regret.
We do stupid things.
We make bad decisions.
We let our emotions rule.
We act in ways that makes other people scratch their heads and wonder what is wrong with us.
We spend time doing things that we wish we would not do!
We let our solemn New Year resolutions die a slow and painful death in front of our very eyes.
We tell ourselves that we really don't care about the consequences, even though we care and care deeply.
Why does this happen?
Self-regulation - that innate capacity to behave in ways that are far better, more productive, compassionate and sophisticated than what our darker side really wants to do - is at the heart of success and long-term happiness!
I have heard useless, but right-sounding advice!
It goes something like this:
Build your willpower. Just say No! It just takes a little focus and a little practice. But we have all heard that before, right? Just a little practice. You can do it. And so on.
Just that it doesn't seem to work for us.
Reading great advice is easy. Following great advice is not always so easy!
So what can we do?
1. Start small. Very small. So small that it feels like you did it even before you started on it.
2. Promise yourself that you will not be a perfectionist. Prepare to fail and prepare to relaunch immediately.
We climb a tall mountain by crossing the small rock that lies right in front of us. Similarly, we can tame those parts of our life that seem out of control by focusing on one small thing, one annoying habit, one little negative thing that somehow seems to give our brain permission to do bigger and more bad things with increased frequency.
What is that small rock that we can cross starting today?
Start with a habit that you would like to change. Small is better. If you are addicted to shopping, then saying you won't shop for the next six months is not easy.
Failure awaits. An easier thing to do is to say I won't shop for the next 72 hours. At the seventieth hour, another promise is made not to shop for the next 12 hours and so on. The battle is waged by stepping past one small rock at a time.
Don't be a perfectionist because you can't! No one has. No one can. Pursuing perfectionism is like catching the wind. It will slip out of your hand every time even before you catch it!
Start small. Embrace imperfection.
What is my "start small" for today? Just to be a tad more aware of the world around me.
Share your "start small" stories.
As always, one small step at a time.