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Akanna Okeke: 5 Tips to Help You Get Off Your Butt & Do Something Worthwhile

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dreamstime_m_9758270Everything worthwhile is uphill. We literally have to pull ourselves up to go to the gym, to read a book rather than watch TV, to stay away from swallowing eba before bedtime and even to go to work in the mornings.

I remember numerous occasions when I fell short.  When I had stayed away from late night snacking for a while and then one night, found myself raiding the fridge mercilessly.  When I had registered at the gym and then found myself justifying that the stress I go through at work every day is enough work-out.

The most amazing thing is that we know that the uphill tasks are way more beneficial to us than our downhill habits, at least in the long term.  We know that reading a good book is more beneficial than binge-watching all those episodes of House of Cards (Why do those guys even release all the episodes at once?).  But we still give in to temptations; we still do what we know will hurt us in the long term.

Why is that?
Personally, I think there are two main reasons for this.  First is that the effects of such decisions are not always immediate.  Imagine if you ate eba at night before going to bed and you woke up extremely fat in the morning. Or you had a puff of cigarette and dropped dead immediately.  Everyone would start making the right choices immediately, rather than putting them off and allowing the wrong ones kill us slowly as we justify them.

The second reason is that, although we may like to think otherwise, we listen more to our bodies than to our minds.  And that is the base level of humans.  The uphill task is to pull ourselves up from listening to the voice in our body (our feelings) to listening to the voice in our head (our thoughts).  This is what separates the classes from the masses. It is not good luck; it is not any old woman covering your star with a big basin in the village.  It is simply a decision to do the right thing regardless of how you feel; allowing your mind to lead your body consistently, because you understand that feelings should come after actions and not waiting to take action when you “have the feeling”.

Here are 5 helpful tips in trying to lead yourself with your mind:

Judge Yourself by Your Actions and Not Your Intentions
This will help you to truly know where you’re at.  You can’t change your situation if you don’t know what to change.  This is the way we judge other people. If you caught your girlfriend in bed with another guy and she said “it’s not what you think”, I’m pretty sure you would judge her by her actions and not by whatever you were supposed to think.

We judge others by their actions, and sometimes we don’t even hesitate to point it out to them. We even go further and try to change people.  If we could just judge ourselves the way we judge others –by our actions and not our intentions –we would get our lives on track quicker.  The challenge here is that it is very tough for people to get real with themselves.  We would rather keep on justifying our actions and floating in the ivory tower of theory.

Feed Your Mind
It requires mental toughness to go against your initial feelings.  Your mind has to be strong enough to dominate your body.  The best way to achieve this is to feed your mind, and feed it every day.  Reading from a good book for at least fifteen minutes a day has helped me tremendously in this area.  Reading renews your mind and expands it.  It builds your imagination muscle.  It fires you up and makes you want to live the reality of the words you read.  Now, I don’t know if text books will do these for you; they certainly didn’t for me. So, I would recommend self-development books.  They already contain enough information on transforming yourself anyway. And the only way you can be totally transformed is through renewing your mind.

Set Challenges
Goals are fine, but they have to be pursued and achieved.  One quick way to hit your goals is to set challenges and have people that will keep you accountable to them. I set a challenge to read fifteen minutes every day, for 90 days straight, and for that I had a personal development coach holding me accountable.  I set a challenge to write an article once a week and for that, I have Bellanaija holding me accountable.

When you set challenges, let people know. Tell Facebook, tell Twitter, tell your colleagues at work that you don’t plan to join them for lunch for the next two months so that you can hit your goal of saving for your trip.  People will hold you accountable. They will keep on asking you about it; some to make fun of you and some to encourage you.  We live in a spectator’s world; people just enjoy watching others achieve or attempt to achieve something.  So why not make good use of them anyway?

Do First Things First
I just learnt something fascinating about “will-power”.  We only have so much will-power each day and as we go through our day, making decisions along the way, our will-power diminishes.  This is why we are exhausted when we return home from work.

The tougher the decisions you make, the more will-power you’ll use up.  So if you decide to spend the earliest part of your morning going through numerous clothes and deciding what to wear, you’ll have way less will-power left. And you will be less willing to bring yourself to do any demanding task productively throughout the day.

It is much more effective to do the mentally-tough things first.  Work on yourself in the morning; read a book, expand your projects, do some thinking.  We must learn to put off the non-productive things until the evening and gradually work towards having them on auto-run so that we don’t have to think much about them.  I’m talking about things like having all your shirts lined up so you don’t brainstorm about what to wear, having a shopping list when you go into the store, and even having a food time table.  You want to free up your will power and mental bandwidth for more productive activities.

Maintain a Positive (Mental) Attitude
This is one good way to train your mind to dictate to your body how to feel.  I write out five things I’m thankful for every morning.  This means that I always spend the previous day looking out for what I will write down the next morning.  It forces me to try to look for the good in every situation.  The result of this is optimism!  The mind of the optimist is always agile, adventurous, and also content.  It knows that there is something to live for everyday, and that is why it has little difficulty getting the body to go do beneficial things such as working out, working on projects, hitting goals, reading and making new friends!

It is certainly not an easy task to lead ourselves with our heads, especially because of the resistance we get from our bodies.  We just have to intentionally get off our butts and apply these tips everyday, until they become second nature.

Are there more tips you think would help? Please share!

Photo Credit: Dgilder | Dreamstime.com

18 Comments

  1. X-Factor

    August 29, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Wow!!!Very profound insights, thank you

  2. Apples

    August 29, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Needed this, I need to start working out again and also stop eating eba nd co.

  3. Ethio

    August 29, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    “judge yourself by your actions and not your intention” nnaa you got me there. @apples I’m a hardcore gym rat but i eat eba ooo, ain’t nobody getting in the way of me and eba and egusi or okro or ofe nsala. but i have supper around 6:30pm tho.. thats the difference

  4. Lawyer

    August 29, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    This is great. I am a 25 year old lawyer seeking earnestly for a job preferably in lagos or Abuja. I am a student member of the chartered institute of secretaries and administrators of Nigeria as well as the chartered institute of taxation of nigeria. I am vast and passionate about corporate law I am also undergoing a masters in law llm program. Even though it seem that I have a lot going on academically I assure it would be an advantage to your firm or organisation and to state that I am in the concluding stage of most of my programs. I believe I am confident humble a leader and excellent team player and friendly. I tell you would love me, I am not superhuman but my weaknesses make imperfectly perfect. Please drop a comment or send a mail for further discussions.

    Thank you.

    • Debutante

      August 29, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      On BellaNaija abi? You don’t know what they call “LinkedIn”..

    • Chu

      August 30, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Pls don’t kill her drive. She can get a job here on Bella, that is called networking.

    • Tosin

      September 1, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      “I am vast” – Nigerians say this. no. But you are great.

    • Tosin

      September 1, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      as a Yoruba person, i think the vast thing came from mispronouncing, then shortening “well-versed in xyz” now became “o wa vast ninu kini yen” and kuku turned to “o vast”

  5. Esther

    August 29, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Thanks…I needed this.

  6. Social Media 9

    August 29, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Very well written ! I arrange my clothes and still get tempted to add or fetch new/ more ones from the wadrobe during the week ! But honestly thanks for this , learnt a thing or two.

  7. pinkie Lee

    August 29, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    very helpful indeed…wanna read Myles munroe’s Understanding the purpose n power of woman but cnt stop myself frm watching 24

  8. Jade

    August 30, 2016 at 7:22 am

    This article is life…just what I needed! Thank you Akanna :*

  9. Tomi 'Leke

    August 30, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Just what I needed.. thanks
    stephenakintayo.com

  10. Ndidi

    August 30, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Thanks a million for your useful and brilliant article.

  11. missdodo

    August 30, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    This is one article i’m glad i read. Very deep, very true and a new perspective!

  12. aj

    August 31, 2016 at 6:42 am

    God in heaven knows i needed this! i need to lose weight…i gained a lot of pounds that i need to lose.

  13. Tosin

    September 1, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    my only comment is: it’s not what you think.
    think about it.

  14. Glow

    September 14, 2016 at 10:53 am

    My high-point is spending my will power on productive matters not on vague things. And i liked the example used, so clear.

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