When most people think about time management or starting a new habit they bring to mind certain behaviors and strategies.
The assumption is that the best way to change frustrating habits and behaviors is to focus on changing those behaviors. Right?
Well, actually no. Because our behaviors (habits included) stem from our thinking and mindset, not the other way around.
What happens when you focus on behavior first? It takes a lot of discipline and willpower to fuel that new habit. And when this fuel runs out? Typically you are back where you started; often feeling the worse for wear.
Which is why – based on my own experiences and those of clients – I believe that in order to create lasting change we need to understand our thinking first.
Notice I didn’t say change our thinking but understand our thinking.
When we understand how our thinking operates behind-the-scenes of life we become less interested in controlling thought and behavior through affirmations, positive thinking, discipline, and willpower.
These approaches turn our thinking into something we need to monitor and “work at”. And with our brains already so busy over-thinking – creating more thought is the last thing we want to do.
So what do you want to do instead?
Start by noticing what is true for you in the following:
- All thought is neutral. You decide good/bad, right/wrong. These decisions inform your experience of life.
- All thought is illusory. You decide what you believe and what you don’t. These decisions inform your experience of life.
- All thought is transient. Thoughts will float away as quickly as they came – but only when you let them.
- Deeper wisdom, intuition, and insight are always available beyond our thinking. Our intellect isn’t our only source of information.
Now here is where it gets really interesting. What I have noticed in myself and others is that the more a person insightfully sees the nature of thought for themselves the more behavior shifts organically – with far less discipline, willpower, and effort.
Change “occurs”. Often it happens so subtly that you don’t realize it until much later or when someone else brings it to your attention.
When you let go of the need to “figure it all out” or force your behavior to be a certain way – your mind starts to quiet down. There is more space for you to be guided from the wisdom that lives inside all of us. New possibilities arise and solutions surface that you never would have generated from your intellect alone.
This doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for focusing on behaviors – through tips, systems, and strategy – these are vital to a strong foundation for your life. All I am offering is that this is not the best place for you to start.
Instead begin by taking your thinking less seriously. Be conscious of when you are leveraging your intellect vs. the deeper wisdom beyond your thinking. Consider the possibility that you don’t have to figure it all out yourself.
This opens you up to true freedom with time – and your life.