By Stacey Rose, LCSW, PhD
As the Nike marketing tells us, we should “just do it”. But exactly what does that mean and how can we apply it to our lives? Think about the one thing that you have wanted or needed to do for quite some time and have not yet done. Why haven’t you done it? What has been stopping you? Typically, it is fear that stops us in our tracks. So, what are you afraid of? What would happen if you “just did it”? What will happen if you never do?
Some of us more cerebral people out there (myself included) tend to think, overthink, analyze, and then re-think about a major decision in our lives (okay, sometimes it can be a minor decision too!) This process of thinking delays our actions. Then, oftentimes, the delay can make us feel more anxious or consumed about this thing we are avoiding. If we stopped thinking so much about it, and just did it, chances are we would feel better.
It is important to make a distinction first between the things in your life that you want or need to do and should apply this principle to versus other things that do require more thought. For example, for years I would watch the marathon and half-marathon runners go by my kids’ school and I would think to myself, ‘ I would love to do that.’ Not being a long distance runner, this would prove to be a real challenge. However, one year, I said to myself that I did not want to watch the runners go by next year without being in the race. So, I just signed up. After training for this, I ran the New Jersey Half-Marathon, two years in a row!
On the other hand, something with long-term consequences may need more thought and not an impulsive jump into it. Think about when you bought your home and decided where you want to raise your children. These types of decisions require thinking, re-thinking, and yet more re-thinking. The way to decide if a situation is one that you should “just do” versus think and re-think about is the following: if this thing is something that is going to make you grow, expand, and improve, then JUST DO IT! If, on the other hand, it is not clear to you that it will benefit you in that way, and even may hurt you: STOP! Think long and hard, talk with mentors, family, friends, and trusted colleagues about the pros and cons.
So, now that you are clear about how to decide which approach to take with decisions in your life, let’s look more closely at this. If your spouse/mother/father/partner/friend/etc. wants you to do something and they think it will enhance your life (not their life) and you still don’t want to, DON’T! For instance, I know a woman (let’s call her Teresa) whose best friend wanted her to take a job in an area closer to where the friend lived. The friend thought it was a better job for Teresa even though the commute was longer and the salary was lower. Teresa’s friend knew the company and felt it would be a great place for Teresa to work. Teresa felt pressured by her and seriously considered it until she realized she truly did not want to take this job. Teresa ended up choosing to stay at her current job and is glad she did.
This is an example of listening to your inner voice; which speaks to you all the time. We all have one. If you tune in and truly listen to it, you will get to know yourself better. Further, by listening to this voice and acting on what it is telling you, you will begin to live a more authentic life…There is nothing better than being true to yourself. So, why not, go ahead… just do it!