Here’s a little departure from the usual travel theme. Regardless of where you are in the world, there’s usually a raft of things you’d like to be achieving, right? When that to-do list gets a bit out of hand, a little voice inside might ask “Do I have to?” It might plead: “Don’t make me!” It might enthusiastically suggest doing something else because it will be “way more fun”. Hello little one.
Here are 4 ways to befriend your inner child and get things done.
(Spoiler: what you actually achieve may differ from your original goals but as you’ll see, that’s okay.)
1. Tell them a story — enticement
Start with “Once upon a time…” and make your tale bold and enticing with a hint of mystery. Plant a few clues to prompt the realisation they are the hero-in-waiting. Glory awaits if patience and fortitude temporarily prevail.
When this method is used as bribery to complete a particularly monotonous but necessary task, elevate the reward (make it specific) and as in the real world, keep your word. If you’ve promised a banana sundae, trip to the beach or a new car, there’d better be one at the end!
To further galvanise their spirit, throw in a good old-fashioned duel along the way. Be sure to paint the villain with great globs of Machiavellian nastiness. And very poor dress sense.
2. Let them have their tantrum — timing
If they’re tired, hungry, hot, angry — now is just not the time to get things done. They’re telling you as earnestly, and as boisterously as they can: sleep, eat, cool down, work out why you’re mad and try to fix it. Give your body what it needs just now.
Alternatively, use all the propulsion from the resistance to go and exercise. Endorphins may solve the drama. When you return to the task you might even do it gleefully. Good job on the unexpected work out too!
3. Why? Yes, but why? — relevance and motivation
Do you actually have a decent answer? You might have to conjure several if you want progress. I have a feeling “Because I said so” won’t hold any traction…
Do your replies to incessant whys expose a fallback to placating others all the time? Are you doing a task solely because you fear transgressing a personal or social boundary if it’s not done?
For anyone unaccustomed to a child’s interrogation, a brief exchange with a 5 year old is one way to highlight your weak spots and knowledge gaps. Maybe you’ll discover your motivations aren’t healthy or the result of the task doesn’t really matter after all. In which case it might be better to…
4. Go outside and play — altering priorities
When did you last just freewheel like you had all the time in the world? I often fall into the grown up trap of being serious for extended periods and the rascally child inside me is desperate to just go and play. For the sake of play alone.
Grab a friend and kick a ball around, even if it’s been a couple of decades since you’ve done so. Throw a Frisbee. Make friends with strangers’ dogs while they’re walking them in the park. If you don’t have any appropriate footwear for a go-out-and-play-in-the-yard-or-park activity, I’d gently suggest you might be a bit overdue for a run around.
Of course, sometimes the weather’s atrocious so just stay in and play. No screens allowed though. When I hit a block recently I ‘relented’ and finally bought a sketch pad, crayons and coloured pencils. I spread them out of the floor, lay on my stomach and may well have tucked my tongue to the corner of my mouth as I joyously scribbled. I didn’t care what it looked like. Well, maybe I cared just a little. Sometimes it’s the play that should be at the top of our list but it takes our inner child to remind us.