This phrase has been used a gazillion times by us in different situations. Whatever our reasons be, wherever we be – we somehow figure out a way to shrug off our own weaknesses or inabilities to this phrase – I want to do it but somehow I can’t.
Now in the context of adopting a particular regime or a yogic discipline (trust me I have heard about many failed attempts in just a decade of my existence as a facilitator). Interestingly, these stories were not limited to a particular age group, skill set, family orientation or belief system. Each time I sit with someone who shares that how he or she is not succeeding at bringing a certain change, I am amazed by the contrast in their personalities. There are no or very little similarities but they all use the same phrase- I want to do it but somehow I can’t.
I am not here to prove that I am the greatest change maker or I am 100% at what I want to do in my life but certainly there are a few observations that I have made about what I do especially when I need to shuffle a few things in my life. And my formula has – Worked!
Here are my steps to the doing and sustaining formula:
- A Clear Goal: People share things with me such as, ‘Oh, I want to loose weight’ or ‘ I want to do meditation but cannot’ or ‘I try to wake up early but can only reach out for the #alarm #snooze button’. These kind of statements are vague. You want to loose weight but how much – 1,2,5,10 kg?? You want to meditate – right! but what is the length of time you have in mind that you want to begin with. 2 mins, 10 mins, 60 mins, full day? A broader goal is good but one should have a clear denomination for it. This clarity helps us in seeing the two ends of the thread instead of just holding one side of it and struggling to find the other end. You want to wake up early – Don’t set high goals. Start with waking up 10 minutes before your usual time atleast for a week or for 4 days in a week. Gradually, increase it.
- Don’t stress too much: Unless it is a matter of life and death, don’t stress too much about not being able to bring a change. Trust me, It happens eventually with joy and determination. Often I hear people saying that they feel sad or upset when they consistently fail to do something that they wish to do. Somewhere, they are burdened by their own high expectations from themselves, as if they are not good enough and that is why they are not able to do anything about it. I am not saying that be casual or don’t try at all and just wait for that day when you will wake up and you will be different. No, be aware, constantly improvise but don’t forget to be kind to yourself. At the same time, don’t be too casual about what you want. A friend recently texted that she really wants to starts meditating but cannot. I suggested her to come over to my place (she stays in the same complex as I do) and begin with a sitting of 15-20 minutes. She replied saying that just before the session she needs someone to push her to come for meditation. Any guesses to what happened next? – The chat ended there and then.
- Consistency is the Key: The above is true that with patience and determination, the change happens but this point is the key. ‘yeah, I started running two weeks ago but it stopped’ or ‘I used to do yoga but now I don’t have the time’. Sounds familiar? Ever since I decided to change my lifestyle rather bring ‘the’ change, one thing that has truly worked for me is the consistency bit. No matter what, I am consistent with a few practices that I feel, hold my life together – keeps me in equanimity. locations, timings may be different but the goal is pursued. Doing ‘Pranayama’ is an essential component of my day and life. I don’t remember a single day in last many years when I have missed it. Even on a super busy day, if nothing else, I have taken three deep breaths before sleeping. Starting is easy, ending is easy but the key lies in sustaining a change / habit. Do what you like or want to do – every single day even if it is for a minute only.
- Less is More: More and more and then more of it – this is a basic human tendency. On many occasions I have observed that people are just trying to accumulate more of everything. This ‘need to experience more’ is not only limited to material goals but to the higher pursuits of life as well. ‘I have undergone ten meditation courses and now I want to do three more’ or ‘5,10, 21 Kms – now I will run 42 kms and then maybe 75kms’ The more we are achieving, the less we are feeling satisfied. The day we start valuing the less element of something – we start experiencing more of it. Earlier this year, I went to an ashram for a specialization in #prenatal #yoga. The ten days long course was quite enriching but was strenuous. At the end of it, while I was still feeling the need to regularly revisit all the theory that our teachers shared, I heard that a fellow participant had enrolled for another ten days program and had all intentions to stay longer for the next one too. Her bait was, ‘I don’t know when will I come back, might as well get 2-3 specializations.’ I am not saying that her thought process is wrong, it may work for her or for many. As far as I am concerned, I cannot gain more from more and then from even more of something.
This is my formula to introducing small and big changes to my life, I have tried it and it works for me. I don’t say that it is a fool proof formula for everyone but definitely one can try it to see if it works for them.