How to Get Past “That Doesn’t Work for Me”

Photo: Alexander Schimmeck

Yesterday, I heard a woman say, “I know I need to take more walks, but I don’t want to. I’m so tired of seeing the same thing over and over.”

I could think of several things she could do:

  • walk a different route
  • listen to music or a podcast from her smartphone
  • pay attention to her surroundings (a mantra of mine is “There’s always something new to notice”)

If I offered one of these ideas to her, she would probably say, “That doesn’t work for me” (and let’s admit it, we’ve all done the same thing).

The truth is the universe has no obligation to offer you exactly what you want. But when you find yourself saying (to yourself or somebody else), “That doesn’t work for me,” don’t let that be the end of the conversation. Instead, ask yourself:

How could I change this so that it works for me?

The key idea here is to take what the universe hands you and adapt it into something you can use. A paper from Peking University points in the same direction by saying (pardon the dry academic language), “The ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment facilitates positive outcomes.” Motivational speaker Anthony Robbins says, “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach. It’s the end you’re after.” And every business guru you can find stresses how important adaptability is to individual and corporate success.

Using this more flexible approach, this woman could change the suggestions above into actions she’d be glad to take — for example:

  • She could drive her car a short distance and start her walk from there
  • She could call a friend and talk to them while she walks
  • She could pick one specific thing (e.g., people, flowers, potholes) and take a picture of each one she finds

Use the skill, learn the skill: Take the three suggestions at the top of this article and change them into something you’d be willing to do. Why wouldn’t you do this?

And don’t forget:

Take what the universe gives you and change it so it works for you.

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