Disclaimer: The content in this blog is meant to serve as encouragement, and is not a substitute for therapy. Please reach out to a local therapist in your area if that is what you need.
“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” —Henry Cloud
I am in the business of change. I have found that the inability to delay gratification and experience the pain of saying no to self is one of the major obstacles of one changing.
Let’s take a common example, weight. People say, “I want to be my ideal weight, but I want to eat and overindulge on brownies.” (Maybe that’s just me!) Those are conflicting goals. The brownies win out partially, because of the inability to delay gratification.
Yet there is more to this. We have to become just as enamored with the “process” as we are with the “goal.” Most of us are only focused on the goal but hate the process so much that we don’t make much progress forward.
Take a moment and think about a goal that you’ve been wanting to achieve for years. Next, think about some of the obstacles that get in the way of that goal. Now consider, is that goal realistic? (Sometimes we have to come to terms that our goals are just not realistic).
Something else to consider is that we are really only good at changing one thing about ourselves at a time, and this comes with a lot of effort. (I highly recommend you read the book, “Willpower; Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney to learn more).
This is why New Year’s resolutions don’t work, because people list several things such as: I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to quit smoking, I’m going to exercise everyday, instead of choosing one thing to focus on and then be happy with the steps that they make along the way which will eventually lead to the goal. Enjoy the process. Put your goals into perspective. Some of our goals are long-term but we don’t see them through that filter and find ourselves discouraged because we want now, something that is really going to take us 10 years to get to.
For example, I wanted to be a therapist (my goal). This was an 8-10 year process to become a licensed therapist and it consisted of a whole bunch of baby steps along the way. One class at a time, one degree at a time, one test at a time, one client at a time, until eventually I met my goal 10 years later.
Now take that goal that you were just thinking about and ask yourself if it is realistic in general, and is the time frame you’re asking yourself to accomplish this goal realistic? Now ask yourself this question, “Am I willing to make the decision to experience the pain (defined as discomfort, stretching, extreme effort, either mentally or physically or emotionally), in order to achieve this goal?”
I’m going to repeat this, because this often is the hardest part for people to deal with. When I talk about pain I’m not talking about physical pain, (or possibly depending what you consider painful), I’m talking about the emotional sacrificial pain of giving something up and doing something new. Are you willing to do that? Because if you’re not willing to do that, you’re not going to meet your goal.
Where are you on your journey? Have you gotten to that point that the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing?
Grab a piece of paper and ask yourself the following:
1) Am I going to live the way I am, or I am going to do something different with my life?
2) What is my goal?
3) Is my goal realistic?
4) Is the time frame realistic?
5) Am I willing to experience the “pain” to get to that goal?
6) Can I enjoy the process?
Write down one actionable step that you are willing to do. It has to become an action item you can be consistent with day in and day out. These baby steps are the power of NOW.
Now do that one thing…right now….today. Not tomorrow. Because everything you do today is what eventually gets you to your goal tomorrow.
Enjoy your journey,