Day 24 was interesting. I realized something about myself. I have a threshold. Let me explain. I was shopping for shoes in the last two hours that the stores were open for shoes that I desperately needed to get for a conference THE NEXT DAY (today). I was in a little bit of a panic. I was distracted and on the phone when I walked into clothing store A (NOT A SHOE STORE). I proceeded to look at a bunch of clothes that I DID NOT DESPERATELY NEED but were SO AWESOME. Jogging pants. Perfect business attire, no? I should mention that I had asked a friend of mine if she could lend me some clothes for the conference so I did not have to go shopping for clothes. She did and I had the perfect outfit planned. All I needed was shoes. DRESS SHOES. Not jogging pants.
After trying on the pants, I decided I wanted them, and that my boyfriend needed new boxer shorts and I made my first purchase. I knew that I didn’t NEED any of it but I decided to go ahead and do it anyways. And that changed the course of the whole evening.
I ended up purchasing a whole new “business outfit” in store B and then proceeded to almost buy a pair of boots (that were WAY out of my price range) in store C. I settled for some ballet flats (the only thing I originally needed) and some socks to go with the outfit. Then I proceeded to go downstairs to look at the spring jackets. I had seen one that I REALLY liked a couple weeks ago and wanted to try it on again. I did but by then I was tired and I realized that I had totally blown my budget. So I went home, jacketless.
Does this resonate with you? The decision. Let’s change the first clothing purchase decision to one about FOOD, ALCOHOL, PROCRASTINATION. Have you ever made that decision to go against what you should do in the moment and then not have the control to stop?
- I’m just going to have ONE COOKIE
- I’m just going to have ONE DRINK
- I’m just going to check my Facebook ONCE and then keep working
It is something that has been a pattern for years… and usually leads to multiple bad decisions. For example, I did not leave the mall without buying some ice cream. I had actually had ice cream earlier but I had given myself permission to make crazy purchases… Why stop there?
- I’m going to have one drink, maybe two… and then let’s order some fries
- I’m going to have one cookie, maybe two… want to order pizza?
- I’m going to check facebook, check out that add for shoes… I’m just going to order these then get back to work.
Do you see the trend?
GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION
Once you give yourself permission for one thing, it generally leads to more permissive behavior. And that is what willpower training is all about. Learning to say NO to the FIRST bad decision that you make. That will ALWAYS lead to a better outcome. If you are lacking self control and discipline in your life then this is more likely to happen NO MATTER WHAT the circumstances are. Once you give yourself permission it tells your mind you are in a free for all and it takes advantage of that. If you say NO from the beginning you have the control. The truth is YOU ALWAYS HAVE CONTROL but once you make that first decision, and you allow yourself to lose control, it can lead to disastrous consequences… and then feeling of shame and guilt and remorse.
The key is to be able to see the WHY? Why am I doing this? Do I really need this? Is this decision in agreement with my goals and dreams? If the answer is yes, then go for it. If the answer is no you have to dig deeper and ask yourself if it is really needed. Is the purchase/drink/food that you want now going to give you more joy than NOT having it later? If you have the one, can you stop at one?
As I go through this journey I realize I have come a long way but I have a lot of work still to do. Is 30 days enough to change what I have conditioned my body and mind to do for the past 39 years? I know that I learned a lesson today. The next time this happens I will be more aware of how my decision will affect the rest of my day and I hope that it is a different one. Spending money that I don’t really have, on clothes that I didn’t really need was not living my best life. Funny thing is at the time I thought that I needed those clothes, and I actually do. I do not have ONE outfit to wear for a business or non casual event. I wore sneakers to a funeral in the summer. However, it is HOW I went about it that changes everything. Instant gratification and on the spot decisions that will affect the rest of my life. Or will they?
What I need to do now is reset and move the F on. Back to the affirmations about self-discipline. LESSON LEARNED.
I am in complete control of my thoughts, my actions and my life. Every day I improve my willpower through persistent practice and my willpower becomes stronger. Exercising self-control gives me an immense feeling of accomplishment. I acknowledge my resistance and move forward. I am in charge of my behaviors and actions. I am in charge of my life.
Actionable item day 24 – Write out the above self-discipline affirmation on a small card (or your own affirmation) and put it in your wallet. Take it out and read it when you are making a decision that might lead to permissive behaviour. If you do make that first decision, then read it after. Be completely aware of “permissive” behaviour and stop it in it’s tracks.