Tuesday, July 21, 2009

11 Ways to Cure 'Someday' Syndrome

Photo courtesy of the half-blood prince

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Alex Fayle of the Someday Syndrome blog.
  • Someday Syndrome: not doing what you want to because you don’t know what it is, because you’re procrastinating about it, or because you have too much stuff getting in your way.

Everyone suffers from Someday Syndrome at some point in their lives, often catching it repeatedly. For me, most recently, I’d been saying that I really should give running a try without doing anything about it.

You probably have something similar going on in your life – a project, a task, a goal - that you just haven’t got around to doing yet. Right?

I could quote Nike and say: Just Do It, but if it were that simple Someday Syndrome wouldn’t exist. In my own case, it wasn’t until my body rebelled and refused to sleep from lack of exercise that I finally got started.

I decided that here had to be an easier way than waiting for pain to push me into getting over myself and getting on with my goals. So I came up with this: 11 ways to cure Someday Syndrome so that others don’t need to suffer through a cure.

1. Be you. This is The Happiness Project’s number one Happiness Commandment. I hate team sports, so there’s no way I’d play football (soccer). Running allows me to exercise when I want and I can do it on my own or with a friend. Perfectly me.

Maybe you’re not doing something because in reality, it doesn’t fit with who you are. If so, dump the idea and the expectations that likely came along with it, and go find something that suits you better.

2. Clear out the junk. If you don’t know what would suit you better, it could be because your mind and emotions are all cluttered up. I mean, seriously, if your mind’s in chaos, how could you possibly make a clear decision on getting rid of your somedays? The clutter I’m talking about includes the negative thoughts (like me thinking that I’d never be able to run more than 30 seconds without dying), or negative attitudes (I’m too lazy to run).

There are some great tools available in the Simplicity category of ZenHabits. Use them.

3. Know what you want. And why you want it. If you are going cure Someday Syndrome, you’ll need to know details about that desire and the reasons behind it.

And if you don’t know what that is, the blogosphere is full of blogs ready to help you figure out your dreams - Someday Syndrome and ZenHabits are two examples, but you can find others on the PluginID website on Glen’s Personal Development page.

4. Make a grand plan. I say “grand” because this is the big picture plan. Don’t get carried away. Planning can feel like action, but really it’s no different than talking. Until you actually do something, you’re still procrastinating.

I have a goal of running 20K next November. That’s enough for now. Starting is more important than getting into detailed plans.

5. Take one step at a time. The only details you need to choose at this point is first steps. I get overwhelmed by details. When I look past the big picture I don’t just see a few details – I see all of them, therefore I focus on just the next two or three things that I’m going to do.

I know what I need to do to get started (the first two months of training). That’s enough.

6. Ignore the rest. That’s right. Ignore everything else in the goal except what you’re working on. We often use comparisons of where we are now to where we want to be as a form of procrastination. While checking in is always a good thing, we can do it when each small task is completed, and not in the middle of a task.

On my running days, when I’m in the middle of my current workout, I don’t think about what’s coming up next week. Why would I want to freak myself out?

7. Get help. Daniel Gilbert in his book Stumbling on Happiness, says that the best route to figuring out if our goals will actually make us happy is to talk to others who have done it.

I also try to be lazy when I can be, so if someone else has done the work (like this Couch-to-5K Running Plan), then there’s no need to waste my time coming up with something new, now is there?

8. Don’t compare. Be careful when you get help, because the dream-shattering tendency to compare lurks nearby. Leo talks about the bad side to comparisons in his post: Life’s Enough. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.

Enough said. (Yes, I’m taking my own advice about Getting Help and moving on.)

9. Be uncomfortable. Judith Sills in her book The Comfort Trap, or What If You’re Riding a Dead Horse? talks about how we might be terribly unhappy, but we’re comfortable so we don’t do anything about the unhappiness. Happiness is a risk, but the current situation even if it’s painful is safe.

Which would you prefer? Comfortably in pain and unhappy or uncomfortably blissful? I live my life the second way and would recommend that you always choose the uncomfortable option.

10. Celebrate the process as well as the end. I don’t mean celebrations like Dash’s Grade 3 “graduation ceremony” from The Incredibles. I mean acknowledge your progress. I Tweet my runs and mention them on my Facebook status. I also talk with other runners and we talk progress and tips.

And in turn this sharing inspires others and helps them move past their own Somedays and toward achieving their goals.

11. Don’t stop at the easy point. Wait a second. Most lists are only ten points. Why does this one have eleven?

Because it’s important to push yourself just a little bit further than you think you can go. Although my big goal is running 20K within a year, I’ve committed to running 7K on December 31st.

So, while you’re celebrating and taking it one step at a time, come up with one unexpected action you can take that’ll add energy, excitement and a bit of fear to your goal.

Believe me, that bit of fear will probably be the best motivator you’ve ever found.

For more from Alex Fayle, check out his blog, Someday Syndrome (or subscribe to his feed).

If you liked this article, please share it on del.icio.us, StumbleUpon or Digg. I’d appreciate it. :)

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