When it comes to making a change, whether it’s exercise, eating more vegetables, or going to bed on time, it takes courage to change.
In my life as a wife, mother, teacher, employee and entrepreneur, I have learned that all change is personal. Change is hard! It’s not the actual “thing” that makes it hard; it’s my feelings about it. Ugh! It’s so easy to be ruled by emotions, believing they represent reality. It’s just not the case!
I can spend tons of time thinking, researching, and talking about the “thing” I want to change, but that is not going nudge me any closer to my goal. It’s not that I don’t have enough information to make the change. There is no shortage of data and opinion about how to eat right. Yet, I don’t want to eat that healthy meal I had planned. I’d rather order pizza delivery. I know that even 30 minutes a day of exercise will help me reach my fitness goals but, I don’t want to change clothes and then get all sweaty and out of breath. Sound familiar?
Feelings Don’t Matter
My feelings about the task at hand present the biggest obstacle. Feelings bring on all the excuses and doubt. Feelings do not get the job done. I have to be consciously aware of what’s going on in my thoughts and push beyond my excuses. It’s action that matters most.
I used to hate exercise. I actually failed P.E. one year in high school. Yep! I hated changing into shorts. I hated getting sweaty and out of breath. I really didn’t see the point of it. Now that I am supposedly a grown up, I realize that I am never going to love exercise, and that’s ok! My feelings about it don’t matter, because there is a physical need for exercise and amazing rewards which outweighs how I feel. So I push past that moment of whining as I change into my workout clothes, and move the coffee table out of the way, and I do it anyway. I focus on how I’ll feel afterward rather than at the moment before.
Have you ever had a conversation with your kids that goes something like this:
Child: “But mom! I don’t feel like doing this homework assignment right now!”
Mom: “It doesn’t really matter how you feel about it. You have to get it done.”
Child: Stomps feet and retreats back to the kitchen table.
One hour later…
Child: ‘That actually wasn’t as bad as I thought. At least now it’s done.”
My mama heart knows what that tension feels like between doing what has to be done, and not wanting to. It’s an internal turmoil to be sure! In my coaching business, I come across clients who reach out to me, sometimes in tears with the desire to change, but they can’t make themselves want to do the work. I wish I could make them want to, but it has to come from within. “Wanting to” does not produce any results, other than procrastination. The distance between the person I am and the person I want to become, can seem impossible to cross. It’s normal to feel this way. I speak from experience! If I am being honest, allowing myself to stay in that limiting frame of mind is a form of self-abuse and self-sabotage.
Ok, let’s bring this around to the positive! What can we do about it? Courage. Be honest with yourself. Chances are, you already know what you need to do. You just need to DO IT. Moving yourself toward your goal is all about action. Motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, says, “At the moment of conviction, you must take immediate, MASSIVE ACTION.’ When you decide that you are going to make that change, you must immediately take at least one action toward it.
If you are trying make a new exercise habit, your first action may be to sign up for a workout program or an accountability group. If you want to eat healthier, your first action may be to find some healthy recipes and make a meal plan for the week. If you are not sure how to do that, you could find someone who can help you. Inch by inch, change is a cinch!
Once you’ve got one piece of the solution down, such as planning your meals, you can work on sticking to it at least 50% of your week. The next week, focus on 75%. Continue to seek fun recipes and join groups with like-minded people to support you. If you’re new to exercise, start out with a beginner workout and aim for 3 days a week. Allow yourself to be ok with following a modified version. We have to get over the desire to do everything “right” and just step out there and DO IT. Your only competition is who you were yesterday, so don’t let limiting thoughts hold you back today.
Take Action Today
I have lived out all of the examples and suggestions above, over the last year. Change is hard. Overcoming my feelings, making myself wanna, can feel insurmountable. But I can do it! I just have to start. I will take action today. I will do a little, and do it well, then add more. It doesn’t matter how fast I go, just as long as I keep moving forward.