Your real goal is actually to find ways to justify and keep doing the behavior you instinctively know you shouldn’t be doing.
Are you REALLY willing to change? I’ve been musing on this post for months. It’s a “call people out on their excuses” post. It got so long I had to break it into two parts…ha; I guess we all have a lot of excuses. I’ve been wrestling with how to do this in a way that invites an introspective conversation (logical responses) instead of having the reader put up a wall (emotional response). Hopefully the sincere questions below will help. Feedback welcome!
YOUR MENTALITY, PART 1
If we’re honest with ourselves, lack of change is usually not a matter of being unaware of what to change; rather the reality is sometimes we simply don’t want to change some important behaviors. Fair?
The sentiment I get often is this: “I know this behavior is not helping me reach my goals but I’m not willing to change it, or at least think about changing it substantially.” Here’s what I’m talking about:
The top ten (or so) excuses I get fairly regularly…plus a rare bonus one:
1. I know this medication causes weight gain (or other side effects) but I am unwilling to even consider doing anything to get off the medication.
2. I drink a bottle of wine every night and that’s not going to change. …Yes, someone actually said that to me.
3. I know drinking heavy on the weekend is sabotaging my goals, but I am not willing to work toward finding new friends I can associate with who do not have that behavior.
4. I know sugar is making me soft around the midsection (and ruining my health) but I’m not willing to cut it out of my diet.
5. I know I respond poorly to dairy and gluten but I like them too much to find alternatives.
6. I’m never going to eat breakfast (or change what I eat/drink for breakfast).
7. I know I have time to do the food prep I need, but I’m not willing to give up my TV shows, or my…
8. The close cousin: I know I need to change my bedtime routine, but I’m not willing to give up my TV shows, or my…
9. I know I need to grocery shop more than once a week to get fresh healthful foods, but I’m not willing to do so.
10. I know I could shift my budget to make my health more of a priority, but my ______________________ (vacations, sports tickets, cable subscription, large TV, eating out, expensive car payments, etc.) is more important.
11. I know I could be giving more effort in this workout right now, but I don’t feel like it.
12. BONUS: I can only workout one hour, one time a week, what kind of workout should I do? (Hint: use that hour to figure out how to change your schedule so you can workout more than one hour a week.)
Have you ever made excuses like that? I used to…ok, correction, sometimes I still do. Are you starting to see the point of the title of this post though? A goal is something you will stop at nothing to accomplish; it’s something you re-evaluate endlessly until you figure out the small steps necessary to get to your goal.
An unwillingness to change key behaviors makes what many people call a goal, simply a wish. Your real goal is actually to find ways to justify and keep doing the behavior you instinctively know you shouldn’t be doing. In other words, you’re stopping at nothing to find ways to “sneak in” bad behavior, or at least non-helpful behavior—that’s your goal.
Perhaps logically presented like the above, it can be a bit of a head scratcher as to why we humans behave the way we do…but we all do it don’t we? Why? I think the answer has at least a two-parts.
1. Creature Comforts – the hormonal rush. First, we have an emotional attachment to “creature comforts,” to the short-lived hormonal rush that comes with anticipation, and saying yes in the moment. We tell ourselves the health diminishing choice isn’t so bad (hello smoking) and then we justify our less-than-stellar behavior by telling ourselves we need a break; we need some source of enjoyment in an otherwise challenging day, week, month, life, whatever. Note: That doesn’t mean we can never enjoy our creature comforts (ok maybe not smoking), but where’s the balance here? I’ll cover that in my next post.
2. We’re Afraid. Second, and I think a layer deeper, we run after bad goals because on some level we’re afraid we can’t really accomplish our wish. By making a wish into a goal, we may realize the journey is too hard for us and we’ll be exposed as a failure. “If I declare to others that I’ll ___________________ and don’t, I’ll be seen as a failure, right?” Or is that really true?
FINAL THOUGHTS – Shifting Your Thinking
If any of the above sounds like you, and you’re ready to back away from absolute statements about your behaviors, if you’re ready to move some wishes to the goal category, here’s a few ways we can potentially start to shift your thinking, and thereby your behavior.
If you knew you could accomplish your health goals:
· When would you start?
· Who would you reach out to?
· What plans would you put into motion?
· What obstacles would you prepare for?
· What behaviors do you know will have to be replaced with better ones?
· How will you be prepared for the inevitable emotions of change?
FAILING: There’s a big difference between failing, and being a failure. No successful person arrives anywhere without failing, no one. Question to ponder: Who do you cheer for, the person who’s been knocked down and gets up to try again, or the person never stepped into the arena in the first place?
CHALLENGE: Name one absolute statement you’ve made about your behaviors and tell it to someone you trust. Ask them to call you out on it and help you work through changing that. Maybe you even hire a coach or health professional to help you turn your wishes into actual goals.
JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY: One of the greatest things in the world is to know you’re moving in a direction you’re excited about, to know you’re becoming someone you’ve always wanted to be. That journey is what life is all about; it’s a journey of discovery. That’s what keeps life interesting. Stop yourself when you make an excuse this week. And stay turned for the next post when I’ll try to ask you some more thoughtful questions.
Until next time…