Most of us know a great deal of things that would help our lives be better than the one we are currently living. We may even know some of the steps we should take to increase the quality of our life. Yet, even armed with this knowledge, many of us don’t take those actions. As a life coach and self-improvement author, this can be one of the most frustrating things I encounter. So much so, it is often a subject of discussion with my friend Nick when we get together for coffee. The million dollar question is “If people know what to do to improve their lives, and they even know how to do it, then why are they not doing it?”
The answers can seem as complicated and wide-ranging as the people who have them. If we boil it down to the facts, it usually falls into one of two categories. How do I know this? First of all, through this website I communicate with people in over 150 different countries. These include people of all different ages, cultures and geographies. I also connect with many people at book signings and seminars. Plus, I find myself falling victim to this on occasion. If you think it is frustrating wondering why people you are coaching will not take the actions they know will improve their lives, imagine how frustrating it is when you, the coach, do not do it.
Let us look at the reasons why people will not take the actions that they know will make them happier, healthier, wealthier or whatever improvement they are looking to make. The first one is overwhelm. This is one I often suffer from. We tend to look at the entire process instead of the first step. I want to get healthy but I am going to have to eat more vegetables everyday, workout 5 days a week, drink more water and less soda. STOP! Start by making one simple change. Maybe after, or even before, dinner go for a walk around the block. This may seem insignificant but it serves many purposes. It gets the ball rolling. It starts to build momentum. Same can be said for wanting to write a book. You may think of the hours, days, months and sometimes years it will take to complete. Trust me on this one. Instead, just commit to sitting down and writing 1000 words. In many cases, you may find that this progress is moving a little too slow for you and you will find yourself pushing to do more. Add a healthy meal once a week, type 1000 words several times a week. As we mentioned before, you gain momentum.
The danger in this is on occasion the progress can seem so slow that we give up. That is because we forget our why. I have written several posts on the importance of having a strong why. I devote a whole section of it in my new book Living the Dream. For the sake of brevity, we are going to look at how to keep our why strong. The secret is to keep it in front of you. There are 2 ways you can do this, and I highly suggest you make use of both of them. We are motivated as humans in 2 ways – our desire to experience pleasure and to avoid pain. When it comes to motivating ourselves, we should use both. There is no sense in throwing away 50% of our motivation. Let us say our goal is to lose weight. Find a picture of yourself that you do not like. Couple that with a picture of your goal weight. If you don’t have one of yourself, you can find a picture of who you would like to become. Worried about not being healthy for your children or grandchildren? Maybe a picture of them would motivate you as well. You can use these same techniques for any goal you have. Many of you may say “How could I forget why I want to be healthy, I see it in the mirror everyday.” I will be the first to agree that life has a way of reminding us of situations where we might not be quite at our goals. I also know that sometimes I walk into a room and forget why I am there. It is easy to forget that we are pained with how we look in pictures and how much we want to change when there are doughnuts sitting in the break room. Keeping a visual reminder of our goals in front of us increases our chances of success significantly.
When it comes to our goals, remember it is important to just start. I love increasing my happiness and joy in my life. I saw this picture at a place Margie and I like to eat and it made me laugh. Not sure why it seemed so funny to me, but it did. I decided to take a picture of it to look at on occasion and make me laugh. Do the same with your goals. Add one thing, one simple thing. Do this over and over again. You will start to build momentum and it will gradually become easier. Also, be kind to yourself. If you forget, if you mess up do not beat yourself up. Success is seldom and linear journey. Just recommit and refocus. Keeping a picture of our goals in front of us will help that. Do your best to include the pain of what will happen if you do not reach your goal as well as the pleasure of what will happen if you do. Don’t concern yourself with everything you have to do to reach your goal, just start by doing something. You will not only feel better, you will be one step closer to success.