Thoughts on Sunday | The Difficulty of Following Your Own Advice

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Thoughts on Sunday is back! It's a feature that I had when I started the blog, but eventually, perhaps because I was impatient for a response, my interest faded slightly and I convinced myself that it wasn't something that I wanted as a part of euhnella. Oh, how wrong I was. It turns out I actually really missed those weekly reflections on things in life, and every Sunday since I stopped writing the feature, I've been asking myself "Why don't I bring it back?" With no reason not to, Thoughts on Sunday is officially back. 

This week, I wanted to touch on the difficulty of following your own advice. As I was scrolling through the archives, looking at my past posts on this feature, I realised I had some good advice, or at least pieces of motivational tidbits, that if applied to my life could make it just that bit easier (and hopefully those who eventually read it). So why wasn't I following any of it? It wasn't like it was some stranger who had written a post and said, 'Hey, you - go and do this' - it was me. I had actually taken the time to ponder through all of these things and processed them enough to write them out into a coherent text.

Apparently, just because it's your own advice, it doesn't make it easier to follow. Sometimes it might even make it harder, because you know what you're doing, so you think that's enough: you don't realise that implementing your own advice, more often than not, requires a change of habit, and that usually takes about thirty odd days of consciously trying to to change that habit.

It's like this: most of us know exercise of some form is good for us. Actually doing that exercise? That's something else. Similarly, putting into practise advice or motivational ideas is another step up from just knowing it, and one that's not always easy (or we conveniently forget) to take. And just like exercise, it's not something that you can think about once and put aside. The thing with advice or motivation, if you don't regularly re-contemplate them, you eventually forget that you were following them in the first place. 

Now that I've determined that it's not just about writing out these thoughts, and leaving them to one side, but now and then reminding myself of them, what useful thoughts have I had in the past?

"It took me awhile to understand the difference between ‘trying to do something’ and ‘doing something’. Trying allows for a reserve of doubt, a reserve of failure that you were sort of sure was going to happen, and when it does happen, it doesn’t really matter because you knew there was a chance that it was going to happen. When you try, you hope for success but at the same time set up a safety net in case you don't quite make it to what you were aiming.However, in the realms of motivation, it is a widely held belief that if you anticipate failure chances are you’re going to fail."

"It's easy to get bogged down in expectations, in what you should be and what you should do but honestly, all that matters is that you're alive. Being alive means that regardless of where you are or what you have achieve thus far, you still have the possibility to achieve more and work towards what you want. One foot in the other until you can't. Everything else? Doesn't matter." 

That time when blogging advice from Lily Melrose really struck a chord: 

"There's a difference between being inspired by the blogs you read and trying to emulate the blogs you read, and it can be surprisingly difficult to distinguish between the two. However, only one of them can help you grow as a person and add to the blog you want to write; the other is pretty much guaranteed to leave you frustrated, because regardless of how well you're doing, you'll never ditch that nagging feeling that you're not being you."

That time when I invented a condition known as The Learning Curve Syndrome:"an emotional condition closely linked to perfectionism and a lack of patience, which can be defined as wanting to be perfect, and wanting to be perfect right now and consequently doubting yourself when you realise you're not. If we imagine for a moment that perfection actually exists, most people will strive to attain it with the semi-realistic belief that it will take time and hard work to get there, and that the learning curve is a necessary step on the road to their idea of Perfect. Those us of us suffering from Learning Curve Doubt Syndrome? Well, we'll start questioning our ability to ever attain our goal within the first couple of weeks - if we get that far."

"Pushed to the extreme, constantly saying tomorrow means that you end up doing nothing that isn't assorted with a deadline. If the rubbish disposal service didn't come around every Wednesday, I'm not entirely sure when the bins would go out. If I had to organise my entire academic program myself, I'd probably still be coasting somewhere around the first year of secondary school.

It's procrastination at it's finest, but it translates to procrastinating on life if everything you want to do, you want to do...tomorrow."

"When you don't follow your dreams when you could have done, when you're not doing what you want to do for all the reasons and excuses that are personal to you, it's hard to feel truly alive. It's hard to get up early in the morning or feel enthusiasm for the coming day or find rhyme or reason in powering through the obstacles that life places in your way. Ultimately, it will chip away at you, without you even realising it. You're existing and going through the motions, but there is more to life than that. And often those who tell you to follow your dreams know all of this on a subconscious, if not conscious, level.

"I am beginning to realise that when I am afraid of the things that I really want to do, it’s actually a good sign. It’s not a sign that I need to turn and run as far away as I can. It’s a sign that it’s something that I actually want, and the fear is of it not happening – or if it happening and not knowing what to do with it."

How are you at following your own advice?