How To Stop Lying to Yourself About What Really Matters To youMar 06, 2022
Let’s be real. I lie to myself all the time and you do too.
When I quit my job, I told myself I wanted to have the freedom to work on my own terms. Yet in the last few months, my hours and stress levels slowly crept up.
I’m not an idiot. I saw what was happening. Yet every week I convinced myself of the same lie. Next week will be calmer.
There’s a battle going on inside our minds every day between the reality of who we are against who we like to tell ourselves we are. What we prioritize determines our character not what we say we think is important.
The gap between the two can be huge.
Our minds are designed to make up stories to justify our decisions even if rationally we know we’re being illogical. When other people make the same choices we do, we think they are delusional but we’re blind to our own flaws.
I’m a serial offender when it comes to lying to self-deception so I built a system to realign myself. Life’s too short to trap yourself with your own stories.
If you’re off-balance, follow these five steps:
#1 Stamp your time card
We’ve all got the same 24 hours in a day and what makes us different is how we choose to spend them. There’s no universal best way to use up the time it takes for the Earth to complete a spin. What’s best for me, won’t be best for you.
Yet are you using your time the way you’d like to?
A friend of mine recently told me they’d love to write poems again because it used to bring them a lot of joy. They can’t though. They’re too busy.
“Busy” is too often just an excuse.
Later in the conversation, I asked them to pull their phone out and show me their screen time. On average, they spent two hours per day on Instagram and TikTok. This type of story is alarmingly common.
The world has become more effective at stealing our time in a way where we don’t even know where it’s gone. We sleepwalk into not having enough time to do activities we love because we’re too busy being zombies.
At the end of each day, write down how you spent your time and be honest. If you choose to spend an hour doomscrolling every day rather than doing something love, then the truth is unsettling.
#2 Every dollar is a vote
Money is the second resource we want to take a closer look into.
Beyond your necessities, think about every dollar you spend as a vote toward what’s important to you. It’s amazing how easy it can be to find the money for things we say don’t matter to us but we hesitate when it comes to investing in ourselves.
I don’t know anyone who will admit health isn’t near the top of their priorities. I’ve made weak excuses in the past when I’ve had unhealthy habits. Deep down I knew I needed to look after myself better but it was easier to ignore my problems.
In London, gym memberships are often over $100 per month and understandably many people can’t afford this. Yet some of those same people will happily spend more than that on a night out every week. Do they not have the money to go to the gym or do they simply value partying more?
Look back at your money habits. Does the way you use your money align with what you tell yourself you care about? If more money goes on status symbols than investing in yourself, how does that make you feel?
#3 Where do you put your batteries
Tracking your money and time is straightforward but the third element to observe is the most important. It’s your energy.
Some tasks give us energy and others take them away from us. It’s different from time because half an hour spent with someone you love could leave you with more energy than you started. Half an hour with someone who makes you feel small could drain your energy for the rest of the day.
I’m a realist. Even things you enjoy can sometimes be energy drainers. I love writing but my brain will be tired after writing this. I’ll need to take a break, go for a walk and maybe have a nap to recharge again. While writing is rigorous, I believe it’s a good use of my energy.
I’ll admit, I can spend too much energy on my creative pursuits at times. It means I’m not present when I’m around people because my mind is in recovery mode. My family rightfully point out this flaw of mine because if I say I value visiting them then why do I show up with low energy?
Be mindful of how you use your energy. Likely, you aren’t spending it in the way you like to think you’re using it. It can take a bit of time to build your understanding of your energy levels but it will offer priceless insight into what matters to you.
#4 Hug yourself
Now look at the three different resources of time, money, and energy and uncover what they reveal about you combined.
This is who you are.
You might feel personally attacked by this.
Exposing your lies is tough to deal with and it’s hard for me too. Yet the point of this isn’t to shame you or make you feel bad about yourself. I want you to avoid any negative self-talk like the plague. It’s ok. Welcome to the club if you haven’t been prioritizing your life the way you want to.
None of us will ever live 100% aligned with our values because life always throws up challenges. No matter what you will be imperfect so accept who you are today. Many people aren’t willing to look so deeply into themselves so you should be proud.
#5 Take action
All we can try to do is be a little less imperfect and be a person closer to who we want to be.
Look at the three different resources of life and write down how you’d like to use them. The trick is to make sure it’s achievable so you don’t doom yourself to failure and lose your motivation. Build a habit of nudging your life in the direction you want it to go.
For some of you, you’ll realize there are big mistakes in how you’ve been leading your life. Try not to panic but think about the steps you can take to make the shift sustainably.
If you keep comparing reality to your perceived reality then you can’t go too far off course. You’re better off than you were five minutes ago because at least you’re now aware of the values you’re living your life by. You have to know this to do something about it and I’m sure you’ll find a way.