When "Want To" Becomes "Have To"...

We've explored the concept of awareness many times together, and I've always stressed its importance. I've also tried to highlight moments when awareness is knocking at our proverbial door, looking for us to answer -- this is one of those times.

When your desire to perform certain activities or actions that brought you joy in the past ceases, and is replaced by a feeling of obligation or duty to even muster the strength to think about them, you owe it to yourself to examine why. There has obviously been a major shift in your thinking to get to this place, and it may signal a need for introspection and self-evaluation.

In our look at habits, we explored the cue -> routine -> reward cycle; at one point, a certain activity (ex. riding a bike) rewarded you appropriately, and you found joy in it. If that activity now seems almost a chore to complete, perhaps the 'reward' component is no longer sufficient for you. Our desires and directions in life constantly change, and there are certainly times where we outgrow, or simply grow tired of, certain activities. There is nothing wrong with this change, but one may ask the question: if you no longer enjoy doing a particular activity, then why do you continue to make yourself do it? An easy enough assessment to make, if the activity no longer rewards you or brings you joy, then perhaps it is time to drop it in favour of another -- one more reflective of your current state.

A more in-depth exploration is needed if you actually still enjoy the activity in question, but find yourself with an inability to summon the will or want to do it at all. In cases like this, awareness of your current mental and emotional state is incredibly important. I won't delve into the realms of depression and mental illness, as I'm certainly not a mental health professional; I will, however, consider the notion that a potential cause may be one that points to neglect -- neglect of yourself. We all have busy lives and responsibilities that pull us in multiple directions, but you shouldn't feel as though everything you do is a struggle. It would be easy to say, "if you're neglecting yourself, then just take the time you need to make yourself feel better"; however, it's not very realistic to assume we can put life on pause. Rather, I suggest looking at where your finite energy reserves are being doled out, and where you're receiving energy back from. Begin to set limits for yourself (it's ok to say "no" to things). Prioritize self-care when opportunities present themselves. Instead of taking on numerous optional projects at work, take an evening to relax. Take that time and do something you've never done before (stepping outside your comfort zone will add a bit of spice and uncertainty). Too often, we find ourselves in a rut, and need to shake things up a bit to re-energize.

When our 'want to's' (those things that feed and energize us) become 'have to's (actions we perform out of obligation), it's a sign from our subconscious that something is off. Maybe we're just bored of a particular activity, or maybe we've neglected ourselves to the point where we have difficulty finding the joy in anything we do. Only you can decide what the culprit is, but when blips of awareness like this come calling, it behooves you to listen to yourself.

** View the video for this post HERE **