Me: “I am only going to count to ten: 1, 2, 3 … Clean up your mess in the living room. Now! We had an agreement about this.”
My son: “Just a minute, Mom. Right after I’ve finished the painting.”
Me: “You said that yesterday. And you said the same thing this morning after breakfast. I want you to do it now! There will be no further discussions about it.”
While I’m discussing the same annoying thing over and over again with my son, my mind wanders back to my personal to-do’s for today. There are piles of paper on my desk and a package waiting for me at the post office. I have an unanswered message from a good friend on my cell phone. She’s not feeling well. Could I please call her back a.s.a.p.?
As I’m loading the dishwasher I begin to balance my priorities. The package can wait until tomorrow. The papers can be tackled later. So, I decide to call my friend first. She picks up mid-ring of ring one – obviously sitting on her phone, waiting for me to call. The case seems urgent.
“To make a long story short, he’s an asshole.” she blurts out. “I shouldn’t have picked him up last night.”
“Oh no, not again” I think to myself and sit down on the sofa ready for a long and compassionate phone call.
Me (trying to comfort her): “Don’t blame yourself. This won’t help.”
She (now on the verge of tears): “Why do I always make the same mistake over and over again?”
She continues on and while I’m half-way listening, my mind is searching for an intervention – some sensible doorway to help her exit out of WHY mode. In my experience, this three-letter question rarely ever solves problems. So, I consider asking her the unbelievably brilliant WHAT FOR? This seven-letter alternative usually helps in switching from blame to creatorship. But then I hear myself asking her this instead:
“When is the exact point in time you are really going to change your decision about him?”
She stops crying and thoughtfully mumbles: “I don’t know. I thought I already had. But obviously, I didn’t. I guess I need a re-start on this one.”
You see, given the choice, our minds generally choose tomorrow as the earliest possible starting point for dealing with a re-start, a goal or an intention. And for the change-resistent brain, tomorrow is simply a synonym for “doing it later”.
On this typical morning in my life, I had encounters with three people whose brains had decided to do things later:
- My son: Between you and me, he still hasn’t cleaned up his mess.
- Myself: As I write this post at the end of the day, my pile of papers is still waiting to be sorted.
- My friend: Her approach was more like, “Starting tomorrow, I will do it differently.”
Most of us have, at one point, decided to start a diet tomorrow or a new exercise program next Monday (next week, after Christmas etc.) And certainly, there are enough methods, trainings and books about how to overcome your weaker self.
Recently, I decided to add a simple feature to the goal coaching sessions I have with my coachees. It doesn´t replace the process you need to create new and fulfilling results in your life, but it might help you to stay on track.
At the end of the session I hand out a simple piece of paper which has a single word written on it: TODAY.
I invite my clients to put it wherever they can see it and to look at it at least once in the morning and once in the evening.
I have one of my own and it is a nice and simple reminder for me to start transforming a certain behavior now – instead of tomorrow or whenever. To finish something immediately instead of next week. To clear up a problem before going to bed. Or simply to be grateful for everything that happened TODAY.
Here is how I like to think about time:
- Things from the past don’t matter – except in the context of how you are re-experiencing and utilizing them in your memory right now.
- Worrying about the future is a waste of time. Everything that will happen in the future is a result of an intent you are creating or living in this moment.
- Therefore, all that truly matters are the things you are doing (or omitting) TODAY.
I invite you to use TODAY as an easy point of entry.
P.S.: Need some inspiration for things that could be done today? I know it’s quite an old one, but I love listening to it from time to time…
Free tool: Today