My mom retired a few years ago, and in the time since, she’s been living her best life. She had a goal to see all the states in the lower 48 of USA and as of today, she’s officially done it.
She left for a road trip for her birthday early last week, headed with her bestie from Tennessee to New England.
When she initially told me about the trip, I remember catching myself getting wistful. “I sure wish I could take off for ten days at my own pace to see the sights,” I thought to myself. “And I sure wish I could spend that kind of quality time with my mom…”
I can’t do that because of the kids, I immediately told myself. For the last decade plus, that has been my default reason whenever I get too excited about doing something or going somewhere that will take me away from the DC area. Because the kids have to get to and from school, my husband travels a lot for work so I need to make sure my calendar is clear.
But is that true, really?
At this point, my kids know how to catch public transportation, manage their chores, bathing themselves, and even preparing some of their own meals themselves with light oversight. Now they are still kids and therefore need emotional support, lots of refereeing, and general coaching and guidance. But for the most part, I must tell you, I have hit my stride as a mom. And with their new school the support from the school and other parents really takes the whole “I can’t be away from the kids” excuse off the table.
But when my mom told me about her trip, it was my immediate default. Looking over the last ten days though, I totally could have joined her!
This made me think about defaults. Even when our situations change – often times because we’ve been grinding to bring on the change – our minds can lag behind.
It’s kind of like muscle memory which I talked about on episode 99. If we have leaned on a reason for long enough, it becomes our default without us even realizing it.
So we end up making broad assumptions based on default decisions of our past that used to serve us. It’s easier for your brain to go on autopilot – that uses up much less energy – but sometimes that autopilot needs reprogramming.
For example, say you have a seafood allergy as a child, so even though love lobster and crab, you avoid seafood restaurants because you know the food will make you sick. But then you go for an annual checkup as an adult only to find you’ve outgrown the allergy and you can now eat all the seafood you want. Now you love seafood, but even after learning that you are no longer allergic, when it comes time to plan dinner or choose a restaurant, your brain automatically removes any seafood options by default. Even though that’s no longer your reality.
And we do it all the time. Even if you haven’t outgrown an old reason like I have with my kids being why I can’t travel, you may be coming up with reasons that match a mindset you held in the past that you don’t hold anymore.
For example, I’m going to a conference in a few weeks to Richmond, Virginia. I knew what hotel I wanted to stay at so I went to their website to book a room. When I went to book my room, they didn’t have my dates, so I started doing research on other hotels that fit my preferences. I started going down the rabbit hole until it dawned on me that I don’t have to do this. I have an admin. Let me let her do this so I can go do something else. She’s way better at that stuff anyway.
Now the thing with my admin is I’m pretty good about having her do things for my business – but I always forget that she can help me with some of the more personal administrative things too. Having spent my entire life doing personal administrative things myself – and having to do so much personal admin for my family – it’s easy to forget that I have help. So my default in that situation was “I have to find a hotel myself…” I reframed that to “I have support.”
For me it requires practice to reframe. What about you? What ar