the life changing magic of not putting shit off
So there was this video going around Facebook last year of that amazing 99 year old yoga teacher and ballroom dancer? Remember it?
In an interview between Deepak Chopra and this woman, Tao Porchon-Lynch (who now has the unfortunate fame of being someone who is probably super legit and incredible, but will be remembered only as a meme) he asks Tao what her number one piece of wellness advice is. Above all else.
To be honest I was ready to roll my eyes assuming she’d say waking up at 4am, practice 5 hours of asana and eat a single pear and then she’s just like don’t put anything off.
This women IS a genius. Way to get to the heart of literally everyone’s shit, ever. I taught classes on that one interview question for at least a week, and it has been in the back of my mind ever since.
It’s interesting because my first reaction was, yeah I get stuff done. I practice yoga. I go to classes. Sometimes I wonder if I will survive, but I still go. When I’m not taking a group class I practice at home. Sometimes I literally strap a giant rubber band around my thighs and step side to side while crouching down a little bit and live in fear that someone will catch me in my way too short lululemons that I have never dared to wear outside. It’s really hard. But I do it every day.
I even go to the doctor regularly for the kind of check ups and procedures women freaking hate and then smile (like the eternal teachers pet I am) when they praise me for being so up to date with it all.
But these don’t really count.
Because they are uncomfortable things I am comfortable with. Yoga is hard for me because I’m a regular human person and not an elastic band in a skin suit with hair. BUT Yoga is easy for me because I have no problem motivating myself to practice. Sure, some days I would rather take a nap on the couch than have April Davis at Jivamukti Yoga Sydney tell me all the ways in which my chaturanga is fucked, and sometimes I do nap instead, but generally I can’t wait to have that time, as uncomfortable as it can be.
Then there are things I really put off. These are the things that are uncomfortable full stop. The things I would like to pretend don’t exist. This is the interesting part.
So I made a list.
If I ever fill out one of those ’10 things about me’ questionnaires I will totally write 1. I LOVE WRITING LISTS. Okay:
1. Drivers licence
I looked at the list. I felt the gross swirly stomach ickiness of wanting to ignore it all but knowing the longer I ignored it, the worse it would become. But if I could continuously put my body through the trauma of trying to learn forearm stand then surely, I can drive a car like every other 17 year old boy in the universe.
So I learned how to drive a car.
The thing about learning to drive a car as an adult is:
a. you probably don’t live with your parents
b. you probably don’t live with your parents who are deeply motivated by the idea of not being a personal taxi service for the first time in 16 years
and c. you have an actual life beyond a 6 hour school day and drinking Smirnoff double blacks in a suburban backyard. That is, you have no time.
So you either need to convince someone who loves you to spend their very precious time (not to mention risking their life, your relationship and their car) teaching you how to drive, or you need to hire an instructor to take you for a lot of lessons.
I did a little bit of both, but mostly the hiring of someone who would turn up outside my door every Saturday morning at 7:55am and send the exact same text every week.
I am outside!
Every Saturday morning I hoped and prayed he would forget about my lesson and that repetitive text would never appear. But despite my best wishes, week after week, it would come. I’d let out an overly dramatic sigh and then do 15 reverse parks in a row.
Six months later I got my license. Tick.
Then I went to the dentist. (It sucked.) Tick.
Then I got up to date with my tax. (This one is an almost a tick – still in progress, but so close!)
Maybe you’re really good at life stuff and the idea of me not being able to drive or being behind in my tax makes you think like how could you even get to that point? But what are you putting off?
A conversation with someone?
Taking care of yourself properly?
Starting a yoga practice?
Learning how to relax?
Starting a new project?
Leaving a job?
Leaving a relationship?
Changing your diet?
When looking at shit that I have been putting off I actually started with a list of things I’d only been putting off temporarily (this was still very hard.) Then I moved onto the things I really, really didn’t want to do. Because I didn’t like them. Because they would cost too much. Because I was embarrassed I’d been putting them off for so long. Because they were very normal, simple things that no one else seemed to have a problem doing.
Starting on the second list reminded me of something Brene Brown talks about a lot. She says that when we decide to be brave and vulnerable, we are not necessarily rewarded for being brave and vulnerable. Sometimes it doesn’t actually go to plan and it sucks. But the reward is simply in the doing. Once you have done the thing you don’t want to, but need to do, the next thing gets a tiny fraction of a percentage easier. And so on.
So give it a shot. But be warned. Sometimes when you start the list, it ends up a lot longer than you originally thought. So break it down. Do it step by step.
Because honestly, when a 99 year old yoga teacher and ballroom dancer gives you wellness advice that doesn’t involve getting up at the crack every day or cutting out caffeine / alcohol / sugar / gluten / joy as you know it ---- you sure as hell take it.