Last night, during my group therapy session, one of my groupies was describing a difficult thing that she wanted to do but wasn’t sure if she’d be able to do it. Our therapist asked, “What will make the difference between doing it and not doing it?” We looked around at each other and at her, stumped.
“When you decide to do it.”
We all nodded vigorously in agreement, and the conversation moved on. This morning, I woke up thinking again about those words and how powerful they are. That simple phrase takes out all the fretting and overanalyzing and second-guessing and other mind games that come when a difficult task is in front of us. I find these tasks are the most difficult when they’re part of making a change.
The word “should” gets plastered all over everything when I’m faced with choices or making change. I should get more sleep. I should push the pace in a race when it hurts. I should talk to someone about [insert awkward topic that makes me feel vulnerable]. I should watch portions and mindless eating. The “should” implies there is some outside pressure, telling me what to do and not do. It’s hard to own a decision and truly incorporate the steps it takes to make a change when it’s coming from an unnamed external place berating me for not being perfect.
Deciding to do it makes it internal. It’s coming from within, from something I want, from something I need.
“Decide to do it” is different that “just do it,” which is certainly a true and powerful sentiment, but it implies that there isn’t first an obstacle of getting your brain on board with whatever “it” is.
I’m thinking about how powerful it is: “I have decided to go to bed earlier” is a lot more powerful than “I should go to bed earlier.” It requires that I own the decision, that I take steps to make it a reality, rather than just some general feeling that I should do something without a clear idea of what that means. It empowers me to take steps towards a goal, rather than just hoping the goal-making will itself bring results. It makes it real.
And then, I think and hope, that each time I verify this decision with my actions, it brings me a step closer to not having it be a decision anymore, but rather something I just do.
I don’t decide to run every day, it’s just something I do, after years of having it be something I decide to do every day. Just like I don’t decide to brush my teeth or wash my face before bed (flossing I could still use some work on). Years ago, I decided to stop drinking soda, and now it’s not a decision I make every day, it just happens. This isn’t to say that, some days, it’s hard to get out of bed to get miles in, or make a trip to the bathroom between the couch and bed. But deciding to do things means not dwelling on how hard it is, it means you focus on getting the thing done.
Which is so much easier than spending days or weeks mulling things over before taking action, or beating myself up when I don’t do a “should”, or conveniently changing my mind when things get tough.
What decisions have you made? What have you decided on so many times, that now it just happens? What decision do you still struggle with?