Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter,
Have you ever noticed I’m always telling you what TO DO?? This year alone, I’ve told you to eat nut butter, swim, listen to music, and what to do to avoid low back pain!
Recently, after some deep listening to what I tell myself, I realized I have a NOT to Do list, which in some ways can be more powerful than a to-do list.
So let’s talk about that list this month!
In creating a healthy lifestyle, people struggle with all sorts of issues. We all have our Achilles’ heel. Perhaps yours is television or junk food. You know you should turn off the television and get some exercise, but just as you’re about to leave your living room a pizza commercial comes on and you sit back down on your comfortable couch. You are a little hungry, you think. Maybe you’ll just have a quick snack. And then go to bed. Before you know it, you’ve lost all motivation to exercise.
Such is life. Seems like at every turn we are fighting temptations that derail our best intentions. Let’s be honest. The obstacles in life far exceed the easy paths to success. Obstacles can knock anyone off guard. They can destroy all of our hard work, even years of it, in just minutes.
Chocolate, alcohol, pizza, television, technology…….They all pull us in the wrong direction. OK, not chocolate; that never pulls me in the wrong direction:)
How do you make the right decisions to overcome the temptations and obstacles in life so that you can succeed in creating a healthy life?
It starts with your rules and creating your to-do list. Sure, that’s obvious.
But we also need something else.
Our temptations are so pervasive; our flaws, so easily exposed. Our challenges make us so vulnerable.
The answer I’m sharing with you this month is to have a NOT-to-do-list.
Having a not-to-do list is a powerful way to support the structure in your day and the freedom you want for your life. There is only so much that you can do, and do well. We must all say NO to things in life. If we didn’t, we’d all be working 24 hours a day.
Be clear about what you will and will not do each day. Be clear about what you will not do for success. Some items are easy or obvious, such as not lying, or stealing. Those don’t necessarily need to be written down.
But others you do need to clarify and perhaps write down. Maybe for you they are do-not-do rules such as:
** Do not hit the snooze button when I wake-up.
** Do not check email first thing in the morning.
** Do not answer every phone call that comes in at all hours of the day.
** Do not mindlessly surf the Internet.
** Do not waste time gossiping.
** Do not consume food or beverages that make you tired or unwell.
You will need to add specific items that identify your individual weaknesses and the obstacles that come your way each day. Make a list of not-to-do items so that you do not give in to temptation in the morning when your willpower and discipline are strongest. The morning is the greatest opportunity you will have to make progress.
Right now it’s 4:30 AM and I’m using one of my own do-not-do rules. I’m on the first day of jet lag after coming home from a trip. I have a rule that if I’m up early and know I won’t fall back to sleep, I do not stay in bed. I get up and get something done. So here I am watching the sun rise and writing the newsletter! Sunrise is not something I see very often, so by knowing what I DON’T DO, I’ve given myself a beautiful sunset to appreciate!
It’s important to make an honest assessment of what will throw you off track. The best way to avoid any item on your not-to-do list is to implement rules that make it all but impossible to do the “wrong” thing. If you have your list, it will make the right actions automatic. Of course this is always a work in progress, so get started and over time you’ll probably add Do-Not-Do items.
Make your list clear and concise. Add to it when you find an obstacle that is significantly sucking away your time. You will also find it helpful to identify two solutions for each not-to-do obstacle, should you find yourself giving into temptation.
Be thorough with your list and ruthless with your time. You can’t do everything. Every wasteful activity in life robs you of moments you could spend focusing on your health, family, and friends. You must draw the line somewhere. Cut out the minutiae, win your morning, enjoy your day, and know what you will NOT do.
Take ten minutes tonight and create that plan. List your challenges. Then identify two solutions to handle each one.
Once you do, your rules and newly developed automatic actions will take over to protect you and help you make the right decisions. It’s the best of self-care in action!
For example, the dieter struggling with night eating, might have a rule that you do not eat after a certain time at night, or that you go twelve hours between dinner and breakfast. For the writer who wants to finish their first book, you could have a rule that you write for ninety minutes first thing in the morning.
When you commit to your rules, you’ll have greater strength to overcome temptation. It seems to me that rules are stronger than willpower. Rules are better than habits. They have a life of their own.
Remove your challenges by replacing them with positive rituals (the TO-DO list) and strict rules (the Do-Not-Do list), and you’ll be on your way to the healthiest lifestyle possible.
Have a great month filled with fun adventures, JOYinmovement, and maybe even a sunrise or two!