One major thing that impedes many clients is a lack of self-trust. They haven’t figured out a way to follow-through. They assume they won’t follow plans so they don’t make them. Not only that, but they can’t count on themselves to do what they say they will (Mostly for themselves. It’s easier to do for others.) They don’t trust they will be on their side when they screw up.
Psychology Today defines self-trust as, “The firm reliance on the integrity of yourself.”
What most people don’t realize is self-trust is a skill like other skills. The more you practice, the better you get at it.
We think it’s no big deal if we skip something on our plan, or we don’t exercise like we said we would. It’s only one day. One task. But, each time you don’t do your plan, you are stripping away your self-trust. If you see following through as important, you are more likely to follow through.
This is not to say, be hard on yourself and always stick to your plan. Emergencies happen. Priorities change. But, be aware of why you aren’t following your plan. Are you procrastinating? Did it feel too hard? Or did you really need to change your plan?
I’ve noticed when I don’t follow the plan, it’s often the harder, more creative or intense items on the list. “Maybe I don’t need to write, even though it’s important to me. I should check my email again for an “emergency.””
What if you remembered that when you do that you lose self-trust. You lose the idea that you can make goals and plans and follow-through.
Maybe you have done that so often, you have already lost your self-trust. You don’t make plans because you never follow them anyway. You have goals, but they are wishful thinking rather than actionable items. You do whatever is screaming at you the loudest throughout the day.
The good news is, you can get it back. You can practice your self-trust.
- Do what you say you will. Every time you do that, you increase your self-trust.
- Watch what you say to yourself. Perhaps you always say, “I can’t plan.” “I’m too lazy.” “I am bad at time management” “I never follow-through.” You are creating your identity – who you think you are with your words. If you think you can’t follow-through on plans, you will often prove yourself right.
- Be aware of your thoughts and feelings when you try to get out of your plan. Did something seem hard? Or emotionally draining? If you are thinking of procrastinating, journal out or think about what is going on. Soothe and support yourself so you feel able to do the task instead of pretending you didn’t want to do it anyway. Listen to some powerful music. Or tell yourself affirmations (that you believe like “I am learning to trust myself to do what I say I will do”.) Or pretend to be a new identity that thinks the task if fun or easy. (My inner accountant loves to do taxes.)
- When you don’t follow through on your plan, pause and ask why and how to follow through next time. Don’t get mad at yourself. You are still practicing and learning. You only hit a wrong note this time. Be on your side. If you know you aren’t going to beat yourself up, you can ask those questions and delve into the psyche. Otherwise, you are afraid to figure out what happened preferring a flippant, “That’s just how I am.”
- Decide something and instead of second-guessing, assume it’s a great decision. If you decide a vacation, don’t spend the whole planning time thinking you could have chosen a better place. Make the vacation you chose the best it can be. We waste a lot of energy, thinking of other options we didn’t decide instead of going all in, on what we did choose. You can always pivot later if needed.
- Make sure the goals and plans you have written out aren’t ridiculous. If you usually get 4 extra tasks completed a day, quit planning 15.
- Build habits. Doing actions multiple times makes them easier to do and expands your self-trust.
- Look for why you want to do the items on your plan. At one point you thought it was important or you wouldn’t have put it on your plan. You can even add that to your task list. “Edit blog post to help others with my writing.”
- Accountability. I have a weekly accountability partner. If something doesn’t get done, we figure out together what we can do next time. I also offer $ email accountability $ if you are struggling with self-trust and doing what you say you want to do.
- If you can’t seem to get started on a task, make the task smaller. A shelf instead of a whole bookshelf. The intro instead of the whole report. Allow yourself to not do it all at once. Doing a small part that you planned to do is better for your self-trust, then not doing a bigger portion.
- Make it more fun and easier – with music, friends or setting up a great environment. Exercise shoes by the bed. Tea and candles by where you do finances.
How will you increase your self-trust this week?