As I approached a birthday, one with a ginormous number, a wise coach posed the question: If not now, when? I was grumbling about how I hadn't been getting enough done when I really wanted to spend more time reading, watching movies and the World Cup; in other words, engaging in activities that would result in getting even less done. If not now, when?, she asked.
My coach had a valid point. Perhaps you, too, use some of these same rationalizations, as you avoid pursuing your passions and desires. Here are some of the things you say to yourself that delay your own happiness.
- "I'll do it next year." It might be the big trip you've been talking about for eons. Perhaps time and/or money are getting in the way of taking that Alaskan cruise or visiting India. These are my fantasy trips, not yours, but surely you have a place that you've always wanted to go or a thing that you've been hoping to get to do. If you really want it, how about planning to set aside the funds and time? At some point, you may not have the energy, or other things will interfere. Maybe now is the time to commit.
- "I can't afford it." I'm not big on buying things to improve self-esteem or bring everlasting joy and happiness. On the other hand, everyone deserves the occasional splurge. I have a Cartier tank watch that I coveted when I was 20 and bought after much hesitation a year later with bonus money I earned from a job well done. For you it might be those coveted Manolo Blahniks you've wanted for years. When I wear my watch, I get the same awesome feeling I had at 21. It reminds me of a time in my life when everything was possible. Even now, when I wear that watch I know that I cannot fail.
- "I don't need it." There are many things we don't "need." Few things are necessities, like air or water. But what's wrong with taking a weekend to go someplace just to get away, or splurging on theater or concert tickets and taking the time to attend? Though we can live without these things, new experiences help us to flourish and thrive.
- "I might fail." Whether it's taking piano lessons or learning to sail, you don't have to commit to becoming an expert. Give yourself permission to try something out because you think you might enjoy it. Stretching yourself and finding out about your hidden talents and passions is exciting.
- "It's not productive." Does spending an entire weekend reading, watching movies or binge-watching the series you missed seem like a waste of time? I know when I get these urges there are usually valid reasons — sometimes I'm just plain tired and need a weekend of R&R! I might be between projects and need some input to prod my creativity in a new direction. Of course you don't want to spend every weekend this way, but why not occasionally, just for the fun of it?
- "It's not that important." How long have you been saying that you'll visit that friend you've been dying to see since college? It's always great to rekindle important relationships and what better way than spending time together? I hate to be morbid, but we really never know how long that friend will be around or what the future will bring. There is no substitute for communing with people we love.
- "I'm too busy." Are you really too busy for that golf game you've been invited to, that yoga class that piqued your interest or the new book you've been desperate to read? Yes, you can live without these things and others like them. They're things that come up spontaneously and spark our interest. But go ahead…you know you want to.
You don't have to be a workaholic or over 50 to make excuses to miss out on joy in life. Take a look at the ways you may be short-changing your pursuit of happiness and make that small change that will make a huge difference!
Judith Tutin, Phd, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at drjudithtutin.com where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, fun and happiness to your life.
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