It’s come to my attention that sometimes I avoid showing up for things. I’m not talking about skipping appointments, or not showing up to family events. I’m talking about showing up for myself. In my case, it’s often fitness activities.
What does that mean? It means finding reasons, sometimes good ones, to avoid doing something.
Let me give you an example from my own life, from this morning. I dropped my daughter off where she needed to go, and drove to the walking trail. Instead of getting out of the car and going for my walk/run, I sat in the car, and balanced our budget. I read a health article. I noticed that I was feeling tired, and worn down, so I opened my fitness app and checked the “body battery” numbers. Sure enough, it was low — under 20 in fact. I knew it would be, and knew it would feel run down today. I did a hard (for me) running workout on Monday morning, and my body is still recovering. Then, I had a mild allergic reaction to something I at yesterday, so of course, I feel run down and icky. I sat in my car for another 15 minutes contemplating skipping my walk.
I told myself, “I’m here. It doesn’t make sense to leave without taking my walk. I will get started, it’s only one mile. If I feel like it’s to much I can always come back to the car and leave.”
I took the easy, flat trail. I had to stop twice to stretch my calves because they were still tight enough to hurt and burn after my hard run on Monday. But, I completed the planned mile, and a bit extra. The plus side is that I feel better. I have a more energy than I did before the walk. Not a lot, mind you, but at least I showed up.
If I had gone back home without showing up for the walk, I would wouldn’t be any less stiff and tired than I am now, I wouldn’t have more or less energy than I do right now, but I my day would have been changed by the fact that I didn’t show up for my walk.
Whether you realize it or not, when you skip showing up for one thing —- whether it’s your planned workout, writing time, building a new business, your marriage, or making small steps to that big dream you have — not showing up for one thing effects your energy, thoughts, and actions for the rest of the day. If you don’t show up for one thing, you’re more likely to skip doing something else.
Showing up is a habit. Not showing up is a habit. s
When you make excuses to eat something you know you shouldn’t, or bargain with yourself to “do the workout later,” or “start tomorrow,” you’re not showing up for yourself.
I know a person who has turned “I’ll do it later” into a mantra. This person makes promises to themselves and others that they never keep. They have some serious issues that need attended to, but are constantly putting it off because they are afraid of change, or because the work is hard, or because they are afraid of failure. This person knows what they need to do. Instead of showing up right now, today, and taking a small step they say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Except tomorrow never comes. Their inaction has had a negative affect on every aspect of their life, but they can’t see it.
Putting things off becomes a habit. And, it’s a difficult habit to break, because the mind is a powerful force. Once you allow your mind to get into that habit of inaction, it’s extremely difficult to change. But, you can do it.
You change the habit of not showing up, just like you change any other bad habit. We all have bad habits that we’ve changed, so it’s something that every person has experience with.
The best way to change a bad habit is to slowly and intentionally replace that habit with a new one. Crowd it out, so to speak.
If you are trying to stop smoking, experts suggest that you gradually reduce the places or situations where you smoke. For example, your might first stop smoking in your car. You learn to do other things with your hands, you learn to breathe differently when you’re in your car. When not smoking in the car becomes second nature, you might add not smoking when you are with your spouse. It’s a slow, and intentional process.
Breaking the habit of not showing up is the same way. First, choose one activity, time of day, or area of your life where you will intentionally show up each and every time. Make it something small, like my walk this morning. Then, do whatever is needed to make yourself show up. In my case, I listened to a few minutes of inspirational music that reminded me why I am sticking to my walk/run schedule.
You are constantly building habits. Every minute you are awake you are building behavior patterns, which are habits. You can be intentional about the behavior patterns you build.
Which habit do you want to build today?