Virtually almost everybody I know has the same problem—we know what’s good for us, but we often don’t do it. We know we should eat less and exercise more, but still we don’t make healthy choices. We know we need to spend our time and money more effectively, but good time and money management elude us. We find ourselves always putting others- bosses, friends, spouses, etc first, while neglecting our own needs and wants.We don’t get enough rest or sleep and our endless to-do list hangs overhead like the sword of Damocles.
We don’t do the things we know are good for us because we are so busy taking care of others that we neglect ourselves. The problem isn’t lack of information—we have plenty of information about the importance of sleep, healthy foods, and exercise. The problem is how we prioritize our lives.
Psychologists tell us that some people are inner-directed and some are other-directed. That is, some people focus on their own internal guidance system for making choices about how to spend their time and energy. Their own self-interest ranks very high on their list of priorities. “What’s best for me?” is a key guiding principle in determining where they focus their attention and how they make day-to-day decisions.
And some people are other-directed, which means that their primary focus is external, not internal. They are primarily concerned with relationships, especially people they care about. “How can I help others?” is a key question in how they spend their time and energy. Building and nurturing relationships with loved ones, family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers is the guiding principle in their lives.
The solution it seems is not to choose one above the other. They are equally important. The most important thing is to focus on balance. As cliche as that may sound. We need to find a way to spur our internal guiding system to push us to act and follow through through on important goals we set for ourselves while keeping the welfare of people we care about at heart.
Chip and Dan Heath sum up the research in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard:
Focus on emotions. Knowing something isn’t enough to cause change. Make people (or yourself) feel something.
Beyond figuring out how to control my emotion, I try these 3 things:
- One Goal. Whenever I’ve been in a slump, I’ve discovered that it’s often because I have too much going on in my life. I’m trying to do too much. And it saps my energy and motivation. It’s probably the most common mistake that people make: they try to take on too much, try to accomplish too many goals at once. You cannot maintain energy and focus (the two most important things in accomplishing a goal) if you are trying to do two or more goals at once. It’s not possible — I’ve tried it many times. You have to choose one goal, for now, and focus on it completely. I know, that’s hard. Still, I speak from experience. You can always do your other goals when you’ve accomplished your One Goal.
- Find inspiration. Inspiration, for me, comes from others who have achieved what I want to achieve, or who are currently doing it. I read other blogs, books, magazines. I Google my goal, and read success stories.
- Take Action: I start taking action. small action. Just to do something and achieve something and get back into rythm.