When Will Life Not Get in the Way?

Life gets in the wayI feel like this is a post that is going to make a lot of people angry. But I can handle that.

Now that I’ve been coaching clients for about a year and a half, I’m starting to notice some trends among my clients that actually applies to most of us. People seem to fall into two places when it comes to getting things done – they either straight up “do it” or they “let life get in the way”. Both types of people have busy lives with many responsibilities but they have different beliefs about their role in their own life and how much control they have over it. This isn’t a “lazy” problem. This is a “thinking” problem. I’ll explain!

During my coaching sessions with clients, together we come up with a few diet or lifestyle recommendations for them to try out in the two weeks until our next session.  These recommendations are small “tweaks” to what they’re doing already. We build upon what they’re already working on in small increments so that the tasks are attainable and they don’t feel overwhelmed. By doing this, we ensure that they will be able to reach their goal as long as they take the steps we’ve outlined together and they feel empowered to take on more challenges as they progress.

Depending on where someone is on their journey, I’m noticing that my clients seem to land in these two camps (the “do’ers” and “life gets in the way” camps). In the first camp, I have people who show up at each session and have completed each recommendation with impressive fervor and drive.  They can’t wait to take on more. They see the value in doing each step and they know that if they don’t take the actions we plan, then they won’t get the results we’re after. These people make incredible progress week after week. They reach their goals and then some.

In the other camp are people who at the end of the session say they are excited about their recommendations and they feel confident that they can complete them before the next session. At this point they appear very similar to the people in the first camp. But when it comes time for the next session and when I ask how the recommendations went they haven’t done them.

Why? The reasons I hear are things like: “Oh, I didn’t get to them at all! Life just got in the way!” When I ask what specifically made it difficult to do what they set out to do, they have things like this to say:

1. “I don’t know, it was just a really busy couple of weeks!”
2. “Well it was a school vacation week.”
3.  “I had a lot of events to go to.”
4.  “We just weren’t home much and I didn’t have time”.

So we try again, we go in with a different plan of attack and break the goal into something even smaller so that there will be less to get in the way of it getting done.  Still, clients in this camp show up to the next session having barely worked on their goals (some not at all, others in a half-assed way). They express frustration that they aren’t making progress. But how can we expect to progress if we aren’t taking action?

Clients in both camps are busy. In fact, I would venture to say that all of my clients are very busy people, in fact, the people in the “do’er” camp also have events, school vacations and aren’t home much – but they get done what they set out to do. Why is this?

Where they differ says something about how they look at life.  Both sides are busy but one side repeatedly let’s regular daily life stuff get in the way of their dreams.  In the first camp, the “do’ers” are people who look at life as something they have some control over – they see evidence that their beliefs lead to actions that create results.  In the second camp are people who look at life as something that happens to them – they don’t believe they really control the course of their life. They believe they don’t have control, so they take actions (or lack of actions) that bring them results they don’t want (and then they see that as evidence that their original belief of no control is correct).  What’s terrible about this is that it’s re-enforced as they go through the cycle again and again and it’s hard to get out of.

What’s different about the people who fall into the “life gets in the way” group is that there is a part of them that believes that we can only make life changes (even small ones) when things are quiet, when everything is lined up in a row, when we don’t have vacations or appointments or meetings or housework to do. The problem with this type of thinking is that nothing ever gets done. Progress is never (or barely) made because they believe life needs to be smooth and perfect before attempting to change anything. They believe that in order to be successful, they need to be able to concentrate every ounce of their energy on a new task, and since that is impossible (even for people who aren’t busy), their belief is setting them up for failure.

The “do’ers”, those who get stuff done despite obstacles recognize that in order to make changes you have to fit your goals in with the rest of your priorities. Just like brushing your teeth, showering, feeding your kids and paying your mortgage – the goals you set to change your life need to be moved up higher on the priority ladder or they will never get done.

Now, I’m not talking about those major circumstances (like a death in the family, major illness etc) that we can’t plan for.  Obviously these things come up and we didn’t know they were coming.  But we do know when our children’s school break is happening, we know we have appointments scheduled, we know when we have a busy week of social events and we know we have a home that needs regular house cleaning.  I hate to say it but these are things that you can plan around.  You can fit your small goals into these regular life things if you take a few minutes to look at your upcoming week and figure out a plan. You wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth or paying your most important bills just because life got busy, right? So why do we think it’s ok to skip out on the actions that will get us where we want to be?

You know you’re going to have to eat no matter what, why not plan ahead for some healthy options you can eat when things are very busy? You can cook a few meals ahead of time and freeze or get into the habit of keeping quick grab healthy foods in the house like peeled/sliced vegetables (every grocery store sells these now), a can of beans, a container of hummus, plain yogurts, fresh and dried fruit and nuts etc. It can be done no matter how insanely busy you are.

If you’re in the “life gets in the way” group, it all boils down to a belief.  A belief that life is happening to me and that I have no control over it. A belief that I’ve never been able to do x, y, or z so why would i be able to do it now?  A belief that you are the victim in your life. Or maybe you believe that you’re lazy.

Is this what you really want? Of course not! But somewhere along the line, you received the message that life happens to you and that you’re just along for the ride. But today I want you to hear the message that there is a whole other world out there if you are open to it. If you can change your belief about the level of control you have in your life, you will be open to taking different action and can change the outcome. You’ll be able to get the results that you want so badly.

The only difference between people who are incredibly successful and those who aren’t is that the successful ones don’t give up if they stumble. The most successful people in the world have failed many many times but they keep going. Failure or slipping up isn’t a sign from the universe that you’re not meant to have or be something – it’s a sign that maybe you need to change how you’re going about it. In this case, you have to change how you are viewing your role in YOUR life.

I know people who fall into both camps – and I definitely used to fall into the “life gets in the way camp”. I now see myself as a “do’er” and can’t imagine going back. It’s a lot more satisfying to recognize that your life is YOURS.

Which camp do you think you fall into? Are you letting regular life “things” get in the way of your goals? Do you really want these goals to begin with? Do you believe you can have it? Do you recognize the amount of conscious work it takes to get there? Goals and dreams don’t happen without real action and dedication to the process. You have to SHOW UP in a real way to get there.  If you half-ass it, you’re living a half-assed life.  What is the point of that??

If you are getting stuck in this type of thinking when it comes to taking actions towards your goals, I urge you to ask yourself “When will life not get in the way?”.  Does your answer surprise you? Do you feel angry that I’m even asking you these questions? Think about it and please share your answers here in the comments.

Show up. Take control. Sculpt the life that you want.

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