Back in the first Lab Rat series, I talked about inertia as one of the reasons why people choose to be unhappy even when they know what they want out of life. That discussion prompted a section in I’ll Get Around To It Someday about how we block ourselves from following our dreams due to a habit of inaction or a habit of action in things that don’t help our dreams.
For example, I’m suffering from a sinus infection as I write this. I know where the sinus infection comes from – eating too much wheat irritates them (allergies) and they become vulnerable to whatever infections are floating about in the air. I could stop the cycle easily by not eating wheat, but I have a habit of including it in my diet and the habit’s a hard one to stop mainly because I enjoy bread and pasta and sweets.
The current crop of Lab Rats all have their own blocks related to inertia, although in Kristin’s case it’s the sudden removal of inertia (the imminent arrival of the baby) that has created her blocks.
Generally the blocks we have in our life can be divided into four areas: family, work, relationships and health. Let’s see how the Lab Rats block their dreams in each of these areas.
For most of the Lab Rats a lack of progress on dreams related to the family comes from a desire to avoid conflict. For example Joyce allows the emotional problems of her son to interfere with enforcing chores and Helen lets her younger brother get away with saying offensive things because she doesn’t want to fight with him, although in Helen’s case she’s developed a much better relationship with her father by learning not to avoid conflict, so she has one success under her belt to help her with her brother.
Marie has a variety of toxic relationships to manage and has to do so actively which makes moving forward difficult as her energy goes into managing the toxicity instead.
Johnny’s family related blocks come from wanting to be a great parent but not devoting enough time to do things he wants to share with his kids. I’m certain that this is a common challenge for parents – where do you draw the line? What does “quality time” mean? Being a parent is a full-time job on top of all other commitments and there’s always something more a parent could be doing, so sometimes it’s just easier to do nothing.
Finally Kristin’s family blocks come from distance. She lives five hours away by plane which makes staying in touch difficult. Her pregnancy has also distanced her even more from the family, blocking her from taking a whole-family trip that’s been in the works for five years.
Let’s go back to everyone’s Someday Challenges for this one. Helen said her life was almost perfect and at work she loves 90% of what she does, but because she enjoys it so much she has a habit of using work to put off the other things she’s blocking in her life (like her health).
Marie struggles to finish her dissertation but her hostile work/school environment makes it difficult to actually want to do anything. She needs to actively remind herself every day that she loves the topic of her dissertation, which again drains energy from moving forward.
Although she says she wants to work on her writing, Joyce finds other things to do, doesn’t insist on the quiet she needs to write (see avoiding conflict above) and feels uncomfortable promoting herself and her writing. Many writers are like this. We can’t not write and yet we spend much of our time avoiding writing altogether. It’s like we find the idea of writing so overwhelming we run from it instead of embracing it.
Kristin is another writer-in-the-works but her worry isn’t avoiding writing. She worries that by living in the unstructured world of new motherhood where everything revolves around the baby she won’t create the time to work on her dreams. She’s going to try to set up some routines before the baby comes, but of course all bets are off once the baby actually does arrive.
As for Johnny, he knows that his paid work is a habit and that he will use it and anything else to avoid the career development for what he really wants. He also knows that if he sticks to his plans he could find work in his dream profession within three months and yet he’s spent many more months avoiding doing just that. He’s always struggled with inertia in all his jobs and being motivated doesn’t matter – he still delays. For Johnny, as we move forward we’ll look at developing habits of small actions to turn inertia into motion.
Marie and Johnny have no major blocks with their relationships and Helen’s only block is a lack of time (see work above) to commit to her husband.
Kristin on the other hand uses the conflict-avoidance method on her husband because she knows that for the next while she will depend on him for “everything from finances, to emotional support, to adult company, to plain old heavy lifting.” So of course she doesn’t want to rock the boat, but avoiding conflict often creates more through resentment and misunderstandings.
And Joyce struggles with interactions with others because she has a social anxiety that keeps her home and that tires her out too much to enjoy it. Plus she has this to add:
From what I can tell, having had to rely only on myself since I was a very young age, I have developed a block that keeps me from opening up and asking for what I want. I allow fear—of appearing weak, stupid, inefficient, being rejected—to take over and stop me from doing what needs done.
This fear of hurt is harder to overcome than inertia because beyond getting moving, there’s also the protective shell that needs to be removed first (because it blocks her vision and limits how far she can travel). The fear does, however, explain some of Joyce’s reluctance to write. When a writer puts words down on paper she opens herself up to rejection and although Joyce has previously published books, each time it’s a brand new experience.
Not surprisingly everyone says that they could be doing better health-wise with Marie being the only person to say she exercises every day.
Joyce, instead of not doing enough, does too much at times thus creating more pain but, as I learned through living in constant pain for ten years, on those days where we feel all right we take too much advantage of the feeling and make the next day worse. Balance evades us because when we feel good we want to squeeze everything in before the next bout of pain.
Kristin, of course, with the pregnancy experiences new sensations every day and wishes she would pay more attention to what she eats but she knows that it’s just a matter of making the time to do so and to not create her schedule around her work, her friends or her husband (again see conflict-avoidance above).
Johnny gets chronic headaches from so much time in front of the computer and knows that if he treats his body well, they go away, but sometimes it’s tough to remember even with the pain as a reminder.
Helen identified her health as her number one Someday and has this to say about the her health blocks:
Boy would I be fibbing if I said I have no blocks here!! I cannot seem to get a hold on what I want to achieve or even work out how to start. I know I want to be fit and healthy. I know I want to loose some weight but there is a bit of me that says I can’t be bothered – but I know that is an excuse – I think the reality is that there are so many things in my life I enjoy doing more. Also my diet is very location dependent. In London I have a really healthy diet and I walk miles each day regularly doing 20,000 steps a day but at home it is rare for me to leave the house although my diet is still ok. I know there are blocks here but I just have difficulty seeing them and finding the energy to break through.
Procrastination is a tricky beast. Most of us know what we need to do to reach our goals but we can’t find the energy to do so. It’s like the carrot isn’t enough and sometimes the stick (of pain) doesn’t work either.
It’s a matter of finding the right carrot and the right stick to get us moving. What might be the right combination for someone won’t work for another. As we continue through the ebook, each of the Lab Rats will discover what dreams inspire them and what fears motivate them until they’re moving forward with ease.
And if you want to know what might help you with your Someday Journey, check out the Personalized Someday Assessment. You know you want to live more, so go for it!