Can you relate to this statement, “I’ve been overweight for many years and think, on a regular basis, how I’d like to change it. I know what to do and, when I actually DO it, the weight starts to come off. The issue is that I can’t seem to stick with it!” ?
This is a common issue whether your goal is weight loss or something else. Discipline and motivation are not typically taught or cultivated in our world. You’ve been taught to want instant gratification in everything. Our society values fast over real and quick fixes over lifestyle changes. The issue is that the quick fixes rarely work…so you remain stuck or you repeatedly start and stop because you don’t knnow another way. Most of us moan and complain about the state our of lives while consistently neglecting to take action to change it.
This pattern became even more apparent to me when I started my project, the Joyful Living Challenge. When I looked at the trends of the level of action people took, I saw:
- Around 1800 people have received invitations to the Facebook event I set up to create awareness for the Challenge.
- 145 people RSVPd Yes to the Facebook event but only about 120 of those registered on the Challenge site.
- Of those who registered, 52 have requested admission to the group where we share with each other about the daily challenges and what we are experiencing as a result.
- Out of those 52, approximately 10 appear to be following through with doing the challenge on a daily basis.
- 100% of those who are actively and consistently participating have reported that the Challenge has made a positive difference in their lives.
As I look at these numbers, I realize that this is also what usually happens in real life.
- 90% of us miss opportunities altogether. You don’t hear the knock, you don’t see the value in opening the door even when you do, or you hear the knock and are too afraid or too “busy” to open the door. We often complain about the life we have but don’t see what’s right in front of us that could make it better.
- Out of the 10% who hear the knock and open the door, many won’t take the necessary first step to follow the opportunity. You get caught up in fear, worry about the perceptions of others, or sometimes you feel so good about opening the door that you delude yourself into thinking that is enough.
- About 2/3 of those who take the first step, won’t take a second. Taking a first step is often easy but taking a second means you’re actually heading toward changing something in your life. Your comfort zone begs and pleads for you to stay and you oblige.
- Out of the remaining 1/3, only about 10-20% will commit to taking consistent action to reach their goal. Most of what we want in life comes from a marathon mentality but we typically want to sprint and arrive at our destination. We often have very valid sounding excuses for why we won’t commit, but the reality is that, when something is really truly important to you, you not only find the time, you find a way.
- Those who commit to taking consistent action will almost always have positive results. One of my favorite Ghandi quotes is, “Action expresses priorities”. You can say that you want to lose weight, learn more, make more friends, have more joy, make more money, improve yourself…but it only works if take action.
Luckily, there is a way to break you out of the pattern of inaction. To make a lasting change, you have to get clear on your what, why, and how:
- Become willing to take complete responsibility. Get honest with yourself. Everything you do, even the things you say you don’t like, you do because they serve you in some way. There is value in your situation, whatever it may be. Look at your current situation for what it is and WHAT value it holds.
- Ask WHY you would want to change it. One of the keys to motivation is determining what is more important to you than whatever it is you’re doing now. Start finding your “something bigger”. If your WHY is smaller than your current situation, you will continually go back to where you are, no matter how many times you stop and start. If you want a long-term change, you have to “grow your WHY”
- Figure out next steps. If you know what to do, then do it. If you don’t, then find someone who can show you HOW. You’re not expected to have all the answers. That’s why there are people like coaches, counselors, and personal development leaders in the world. Find a method that works for you.
- Last, and probably most important, is to take action on your HOW. Otherwise, all you’ve done is gather information.