Sneaking Up

From time to time we set ourselves a goal that just plain does not come easy.  As an example of goals that people often set for themselves here is a list of Top Ten from 2015

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Getting Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Staying Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family

Looking at this list one thing that jumps out about this list is: the total lack of action steps. Okay, a few of the above will have fairly easy to create action steps. But, some of the top ten will have very elusive action steps.  In general I would expect a goal with obvious action steps to be easier to deal with.

Let’s take the second item on the list as an example — “Getting Organized.”

For the purposes of explaining the concept of “Sneaking Up” let’s use the action step of keeping pens and pencils on the desk in the pen cup. Yes, we’ll use a pen holder on the desk to keep all our pens and pencils nice and neat. Not the be all end all of getting organized, but it is a start — and it has the advantage of being very specific.

So, how does the concept of “Sneaking Up” enter into this? If you success 100% of the time in placing your pen in the holder then there is no question. You are succeeding and need no help. But, if you are not successful at keeping the pens and pencils in the holder, then obviously you are finding pens and/or pencils laying about on your desk like lazy dogs in the sun.

Well…. the moment you notice a pen on the desk take note of the fact the pen was on the desk and you failed to put the pen in the cup as you wished. Please notice, you did not fail to avoid leaving the pen on the desk, you failed to put it in the cup.

Keep catching yourself the moment you notice the failure. Take note and put the pen in the cup. You will find that you start to notice the failure closer and closer to the critical moment. Eventually, you will have your attention catch up to the very moment when you place the pen on the desk.  Then you will notice when the pen is heading toward the desk. Then you will notice the moment when you are getting ready to get started to put the pen on the desk. Since you have been creating the habit of taking note then fixing the situation you will now have solved the issue. You Sneak-ed Up. Or snuck up on the moment.

But What If You Can’t Correct The Oversight?

The short answer to this question is: use the same sneaking up technique. I’ll give an example.

Consider a doorway exercise of the following type:

You make the intention to remind yourself “I Am Here” every time you walk through a doorway.

That means every time you walk through the door you intend to subvocalize the phrase “I Am Here.”

Well, if you find yourself in the kitchen having failed to subvocalize the phrase, stop, take notice of your failure and make the intention to do it properly next time.

Perhaps the first time you notice your failure you are already in the frig looking for cheese cake. But, then the next time you notice you are only half way across the kitchen heading toward the sink. Then, later you notice right after you finish crossing the threshold.

Now you’ve got something. You noticed right after stepping through the threshold. So  you are noticing as you walk through the door. Then, just before you enter the door.

Job done… or, almost done. There is a problem with this technique — you have only been given half the instructions. The other element you need to know about is the sneaking up from the “before side” of your failure.

As you walk up to the door it is very likely that you get a slight tickle of “remember to do that thing.” But, you dismiss it. You walk right past that little tickle. Turn a deaf ear to the whisper.

As  you are taking note of your failures and making the intention to not make that goof next time, you must also scanning your time line looking for that tickle and/or whisper. Try to locate the moment when you had a tap on the shoulder trying to help you remember to do the exercise.

Very often we get the reminder but ignore it. We must bring ourselves into the present by sneaking up on the moment of “oops, I screwed up” AND sneaking up on the moment of “brushing aside the reminder to act.”

There is a moment when we crest the hill and start to slide down the slippery slope to failure. You need to find that moment and act at that moment.

Typically a person wishing to stop smoking will fail to not smoke long before the cigarette is lit, failed before pulling the cig from the pack, failed before grabbing the pack from the desk drawn. The failure may have been the moment when the got up from the easy chair. The specifics depend on the individual. I’m just saying the failure is before the actual recognizable moment of failure.

So sneak up on whatever moment is involved from the front when the path to failure is entered, and from the back when the path of failure has been traversed. You need to come at it both ways.