I’m a thinker. Actually, that’s an understatement. I’m an obsessive thinker. I spend an awful lot of time stuck in my thoughts. Ruminating. Planning. Dreaming.
Here’s the thing: thoughts don’t matter. Actions do. No matter how hard I think about something, nothing is going to happen until I do something.
Over the past week or so I’ve been trapped I my head, wishing for things to make my life better. To be a better climber. To have better posture. And so on. Meanwhile, I forget to appreciate that I’m on vacation with two amazing friends, climbing some awesome new (to us) routes in an absolutely gorgeous area. There was lots of laughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, even if I wasn’t in the best head space.
In the two days since I’ve been home, it’s gotten worse. Without the distraction of friends and travel, I’ve fallen deeper into the trap of wanting and then feeling inadequate, which makes me want more. Enough! I’ve been through this cycle too many times in my life and I know that it isn’t good for my mental health.
I am not my thoughts.
Thoughts come and go, just like clouds drifting across the sky. I can choose to pay attention to them, or let them drift on by. When I pay attention to a thought, I strengthen that thought – and any associated emotions. So why then would I strengthen thoughts that create negative emotions?
Good question. I don’t have an answer.
Over the years though I have learned to recognize the pattern, and that has made it easier to let go of unconstructive thoughts.
But what of the constructive thoughts?
I think the most transformative moment during my MBA was a passing conversation with a classmate in the importance of getting shit done. His perspective: the best laid plans didn’t matter unless you actually execute those plans. Since getting home from my trip, I’ve stumbled across a couple of articles saying the same thing: thinking doesn’t get you anywhere – doing is what matters. Maybe the universe is sending me a message.
Let’s use posture as an example. Between rock climbing and working in front of a computer, my posture is getting a little rounded. I could spend my spare time researching postural exercises and putting together the “perfect” exercise routine, but that will accomplish diddly squat until I actually start doing the exercises. I know that from experience: I’ve done the research and put together countless plans. My posture hasn’t improved. Today’s lesson to self is that it doesn’t matter if the routine is perfect or not.
I just have to do it.