Last week I celebrated my 10 year wedding anniversary with my beautiful wife, Sarah! And right now, I’m coming to you from a villa in Barbados where Sarah and a few of our friends are spending the week soaking up the sun, deep sea fishing, golfing, and of course, talking about life and business.
I wanted to share with you an analogy I shared with the group at dinner one night (and then it’s back to the beach!). I call it “the bread crumbs of your soul.” No, not the bread crumbs you leave after one of your cheat meals. The crumbs are what you leave behind from the questionable decisions you make – the decisions that have you looking over your shoulder, cheating on yourself (or others), and doubting your integrity. Those are the bread crumbs on your soul and they can be heavy.
Let me give you a couple of examples: You cheat on your spouse and six months later you find out that your spouse, and the person you cheated on them with will be on the same board together. Or, you lie to a friend to make yourself sound better and the truth is going to be exposed at an upcoming event. Or you just make up an excuse as you why you can’t attend a social event, only to see that person while you are out and about later that day. Or you owe someone money and are avoiding paying them back, then you see them in line in front of you at the movie theater.
These bread crumbs are the little white lies, the half-truths, the deception that impacts you and those around you causing regret, remorse, and hurt. They often spin into more lies, more cheating, more stories, and more regrets. These bread crumbs take energy away from us creating our future, because we are always living in the past trying to cover our tracks. These bread crumbs can haunt you and that is no way to live. You need all your focus on the present opportunities and experiences!
Here are three ways to stop leaving bread crumbs:
- Get clear on what you want. It’s easier to say no when you are clear on what you want. It’s even easier to say no, when you own your future, your goals, your wants, your needs, and are unapologetic about it. It is your life. Do not let anyone else dumb it up. Your life is entirely up to you, which means you need to say no in order to go for what you want. If weight loss is your thing for 2019, then you’ll need to say no to a late night of pizza and beer and yes to chicken and broccoli, so you can get up early the next morning to workout. Do not apologize for your choices. Understand that the decisions you make today will effect your life (and oftentimes the lives of others) in the future. Which is why it is also important to have clarity around the people you want in your life and who you want to create this life for. It’s the people that matter the most to you, that matter more than anything else. Having that clarity around people actually makes these decisions easier. Either way, choose wisely.
- Address conflict immediately. Sometimes (heck, all the time!), it’s easier to say yes, give a non-committal answer, or tell someone you’ll review that proposal and get back to them, even though you have no intention of actually doing the thing, making the donation, volunteering for whatever cause, hiring that person, going on that date, etc. that was asked of you. Why prolong the pain?! The person is going to be disappointed and you’re going to feel like an ass for saying no. Get over it. It’s much easier to address something like this in the moment then to provide hope to someone when you know it’s never going to happen. This goes hand in hand with being clear on what you want. If you are clear and own it, you will have no qualms about declining an offer (even if it is amazing!) if it doesn’t align with your long term vision.
- Don’t cheat on yourself. I’ve written an entire blog on this before, but there aren’t enough police in the world to arrest you for when you commit your own internal sins! But you know it and that should be enough. You know the truth. You know what you’ve committed to and when you’ve broken a promise to yourself. If you do it too often, you start to train yourself to cheat. You allow yourself to rationalize and give yourself a way out. The mind is a powerful thing. Use it to your advantage.
- Flip the script. Instead of leaving bread crumbs from your decisions, put that energy to good use! Practice delayed gratification so you don’t get caught cheating on yourself. Create a daily personal development routine so you review your Future Self and goals daily, so you always have what you want in the forefront of your mind. Develop (and role play) a standard response to requests for your time, money, etc. and then use that to address conflict in the moment. By putting these practices into your life you are creating an ROI on your future so that you don’t leave bread crumbs!
We’ve all left bread crumbs at one time or another, and frankly it’s just lazy, stupid, and painful for us and others. In the moment, it usually seems harmless and it provides an instant solution. But it never ends well. Instead of using your energy trying to sweep up those bread crumbs (and you could be sweeping for a very long time depending on how deep you’ve gotten yourself), use your energy to experience life, create memories, and say yes to the opportunities that feed your soul and help you build the life you want.