How to just do it now

By Liz, feeling chilly already

So, it’s almost my birthday (yay!). One of my friends always said that she looked at her birthday as the start of the new year, instead of Jan. 1. This year I decided to adopt that practice because I need to get some good habits going STAT.

And I thought I’d start with ditching this all-or-nothing mindset I somehow developed along the way.

I could spend some time on where this came from, but that would probably be its own whole blog post. Suffice it to say, it’s probably related to the notion I’ve had since I was a kid about perfectionism, feeling unworthy unless I was succeeding, terrified to fail. So as a result, I’ve been stuck in this idea that I have to do everything within the construct of some false idea I have about time spent or success achieved or some other wacko metric that I came up with in my own flawed mind. Usually followed up by It’s not enough, I’ll never get it done/right/fill in the blank.

For instance, some of my blocks in the past included things like:

  • Unless I can devote four, five, eight hours a day to writing, there’s no time to write, therefore I do nothing.
  • Unless I can work out for an hour, why bother.
  • If I don’t have exactly every single ingredient that’s laid out in the recipe for the healthy dinner I was thinking of making, I can’t do it.
  • If I can’t save xxx dollars a month in my investment account, what’s the use of saving anything.

And on and on.

I’ve started to recognize this in myself and how it’s been holding me back. Because the truth is, it’s the little steps, the few minutes, the $20 you save, that is going to add up. I realized I’m not going to get anywhere if I wait for the perfect time block to work on that next book. The time is going to pass anyway.

Instead, I’m going to do it now.

While I’m waiting for my coffee to brew, I’ll do 10 squats. And if I have 10 minutes this morning, I’m going to write a few words.

I’m guessing it’s going to add up real fast.

What about you, readers? What can you do with a few spare moments, dollars, or other asset you have? Tell me in the comments below.

14 Thoughts

  1. Thanks for the reminder, Liz! Letting the math take over the mind is one way to overcome the resistance.

    For example, typing 50 words per minutes for a half hour produces 1,500 words. Do that for five days of the week and you net 7,500. There’s an average of 4.3 weeks in a month, and now you have 32,250 words. A couple of months later, nets the threshold of a full-length novel at 64,500 words.

    You may hate “word problems,” but the math works: 50 X 30 X 5 X 4.3 X 2 = 64,500.

    Not bad for setting aside a half hour to do what you love!

  2. Great nudge, Liz. You can do it!

    I don’t feel that way about exercise so much, but definitely writing. Although I have been known to ask a receptionist for a piece of paper and jot down story ideas if I’m left to wait way too long in a doctor’s office.

  3. All I have is spare moments unless I have doctors appts or tests scheduled. I love to read or watch true crime programs or older tv programs such as Bones is my latest one I’m hooked on. I also like to spend time in or by the pool which we can do year round here in SW Florida.

  4. Thanks for the nudge! I do this, too. My big problem though is getting sidetracked with other things. I have half a book to write before January 15th so I’m buckling down–after I get off the internet that is. Starting…now.

  5. For me, it use to be reading. I use to think that if I couldn’t find time to read a big chunk of a book why start at all because I’d not be able to follow the thread of the book if I did it in little doses. When circumstances arose that little bits of time that needed to be filled instead of staring at the tube or just sitting, I found that I could do it and enjoy it. It was the start to my reading more and more because once you enjoy something you are more apt to find time for it.

    Think we all need the reminder that we CAN DO IT from time to time. Thanks for the reminder!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. This is a great reminder. I can dust a little bit in five minutes. I don’t have to do the whole house at once! It applies to a lot of things!

  7. Groan—those are ALL my excuses. I’m gonna try your ideas….except, not the squats. No, not doing that.

  8. Hi Liz. My natural personality is to be exactly like that. “I can’t do it if…” I’m a person who likes to take time, think things through before i act, not feel rushed, etc. However, when I was in my mid-40s, I was having one of those friendly, water-cooler discussions at work with two high-achieving Type As. They were talking exactly the way you said, “And then I put my tea in the microwave and do ten squats and by the time the water is hot my toast is done.” I was laughing and teasing and saying, “And then what? Do you get some kind of prize?” But then my friend said to me, “Your problem is, you make your chunks too big.” By which he meant, don’t think about writing a book, think about writing a chapter, a page, a sentence, and then reward yourself by crossing it off your list.

    This conversation changed my life. I mean my whole life. I still have those I Can’t Do It Now tendencies, it’s my natural personality, but now that I think of “it” as a much smaller unit, I can move forward.

    BTW, I don’t know where the perfectionism comes from. Both my kids have it, and now my four-year-old granddaughter has a strong dose and no amount of reassurance makes a difference. It’s particularly horrible watching the traits that have cost you visited on another generation.

  9. I find it’s easier if I break things down into small chunks. If I have 10 minutes I can walk around the block a few times or weed one or two beds. If I say I’m going to weed the whole garden I look at the job and get discouraged before I even start

  10. My mother was a perfectionist who was proud of the fact, and thought anyone who wasn’t was flawed. No matter how well I did at something, it was never good enough. I suffered with this all my life. Even so, I’ve accomplished a great number of difficult things, many times by keeping in mind “baby steps.” I’m fortunate that I have a husband who appreciates everything I do, even if it’s getting only half a room vacuumed! It truly is amazing how much can be accomplished in very small increments. Good luck, Liz. You can do it!

  11. I love your mindset here, wise words! I demand a lot of myself, too, but nowadays (as I get older lol), I find myself saying, “close enough” a lot more!

  12. I can pray, read or mediate. Sometimes, life becomes so busy, I just need to close my eyes and pray Lord, I give everything and everyone to you. I take a few deep breaths and release it all. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

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