I’ve recently been reading Power of Less, The: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential...in Business and in Life by Leo Babauta, and I think it’s a great book. Babuta is the author of the Zen Habits blog (http://zenhabits.net/). Power of Less is all about how to do fewer things in a more directed and clear way in order to achieve more balance and happiness in the meantime.
How do we do this? Well, according to Babuta, we focus on one thing at a time. He discovered this process when he was an overweight smoker with piles of debt. Rather than get overwhelmed by the number of changes that he needed to make, he decided to focus on one: quitting smoking. It was his entire focus. After he mastered that, he felt so encouraged by his success that he moved on to the next goal: his health. He broke each goal down into manageable components, and accomplished each one slowly and steadily-and thoroughly. This kind of change lasts.
It’s exactly the opposite of what I call “New Year’s Resolutions Syndrome,” which is when someone (it might be you) goes into a flurry of activity for about three weeks, determined to completely overhaul everything about one’s life-all at once. Of course, this pace is not sustainable, and once the first wave of excitement wanes, the hopefulness turns to hopelessness-or, at the least, inertia. Giving up. The worst part of the syndrome is that it creates a story that we use to inform our future decisions. In this case, the story becomes “well, I’d like to make changes, but I never follow through.” We pull out these old stories every time we’re thinking about taking a risk or making changes, and they shame us into giving up. It's an extreme example, but I think that it's a metaphor for how a lot of people live on a daily basis.
Well, what if you’re not weak in character or determination, but you’ve just been using the wrong approach? Putting too much pressure on yourself? What if this is just about having an open mind and facing this in a different way? Just take a deep breath, and let's go at this from another angle.