Our brains LOVE to complicate things.
Why? Because when we indulge in confusion we don't take action. Our brain thinks that not taking action or falling back into old habits = safety. If you remember the motivational triad, our lower brain wants us to seek pleasure, avoid pain and exert as little energy as possible. When we are first trying to follow a plan or stick to a schedule or learn something new; it's not pleasurable, it's painful, and it requires a lot of energy.
Additionally, following a plan and a schedule uses your prefrontal cortex. Your lower brain doesn't like planning; it likes impulse and immediacy. You're having to override your lower brain screaming at you to do the thing you want to do in the moment, not the thing you planned. Good news: that's all it can do. Scream. Your prefrontal has to agree with it and then follow through with the action. The key is to recognize when that's happening and follow your plan anyway.
The solution to following your plan or a schedule is simple. The reason you're not following your schedule will fall into one of two categories:
- Either you're not writing your plan or schedule.
- Or, you're choosing not to follow your plan or schedule.
That's it. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, your brain will try to muddy these facts by offering you all sorts of reasons why you aren't following your plan or sticking to a schedule. Remember: if you're confused, you're not taking action, and if you're not taking action, you're safe.
Here are some reasons your brain might be offering you:
I'm a big procrastinator. I just work best under pressure. I'm just too tired. I don't want to. I just can't stick to a schedule. I'll never get it. I just do better with other people's deadlines. It's too much work. It's not really worth it. It doesn't matter. I'll just skip it. I'm bad at writing my schedule. I planned like an idiot. Why did I do this to myself? I'm too busy. I don't have time. But things keep coming up!
All of these thoughts keep you in self-loathing, self-doubt, vicitm-mentality, confusion and fighting for your own limiting beliefs like they're real. Hint: they're not real. None of those things are true about you as a person. They're just thoughts. Well-worn, well-practiced thoughts. Now, you might look to your past for evidence that it IS you. To that I say: just because that's the way you've done things in the past doesn't mean you can't change the way you do things in the future. The ONLY thing keeping you stuck is that you continue to believe those things about yourself. It's just the way you think of yourself, or your self-concept. Those thoughts aren't true; they're just well-practiced so they feel like the truth. As long as you keep thinking that way, you'll keep producing the same result: not following a schedule, or plan or making the changes you want to make.
- Decide. Who do you want to be? Do you want to be someone who follows a plan or a schedule? Be honest.
- If the answer is yes: Decide to write your plan/schedule and then do it. Now. If the answer is no: then stop beating yourself up for not following a schedule! Decide. Do not waffle. Pick one and go. There is no wrong answer! There is no morality in following a schedule or not following a plan. None.
- If you decided to follow a plan or schedule, you'll need to decide every morning to follow your schedule. Decide at every opportunity to follow your schedule. Decide before you go to bed that the next day you will follow your schedule. Remind yourself as often as possible, with love. Remember: the schedule you write is for you and your highest good, not against you.
- Expect and plan on your lower brain's excuses for why you can't or shouldn't follow a schedule. Acknowledge it, allow the chatter and follow your schedule anyway. It will be hard. That's OK. You can do hard things.
- When you slip up (you're going to slip up, you're learning something new), tell yourself: I'm learning to be someone who follows a schedule. You're not allowed to beat yourself up. Ever. I love you and it's a no.
If you want to take this work deeper, book a consultation!