I eavesdropped on a conversation at the gym the other day. A woman was describing to her friend the reason that she hadn’t been to the gym in a very long time. She shared that she had been too busy and she couldn’t fit working out into her schedule. Her friend then took it upon herself to spend the next 10 minutes trying to help her overcome this problem. However, for each solution the friend threw her way, the woman had a very convincing rationalization for why that would never work. Does this sound familiar to you?
Maybe this reminds you of someone at work. You have long in-depth conversations about needed behavior change with an employee, but nothing ever really changes. Maybe this hits a little close to home. The confusing thing is that you might have a heartfelt desire to change, but you never seem to really move forward in any way. So what is really holding you back?
“If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” – Author Unknown
Maybe it’s really not that important to you.
Changing a habit is hard work and if you don’t make it a priority, you’ll never make that change. There will always be something else rivaling for your valuable time. There may be a piece of you that truly wants to change, but there’s another bigger part that isn’t really sold on the idea. And, some changes are easier than others. It always goes back to the pleasure vs. pain thing. The more painful the change, the harder to change the habit. As you probably know, we tend to shy away from experiences that are painful. In fact, we will go out of our way to avoid them.
Maybe you have a competing commitment. On a conscious level, you definitely want to change. However, you are as confused as anyone as to why it’s not happening for you. It’s possible that you have a commitment to something else that is impeding your progress to accomplish your goal. For example, let’s pretend that your boss wants to groom you for the next big position. This is exciting and thrilling to hear that she believes in you. You just have to increase your sales by 15%. You know this is a doable, reasonable goal to meet. Yet, for the next 6 months, your numbers go down, down, down. This is frustrating because your numbers haven’t decreased in three years.
So, what’s really going on here?
Deep down on a subconscious level, you have a strong belief that you should spend more time with your children. This new position would involve more time and more travel. You have worked hard for 10 years just to receive this promotion. However, you never peeled back the layers to really look at what’s truly important to you. Apparently, this value of spending more time with your children is more important to you than you anticipated. It is driving your behavior in ways that shock you. For some reason, it’s hard for you to accept this truth.
The bottom line to change is this: Before you work on a behavior CHANGE, be sure to take some time to reflect on what you really want in life. The answer may surprise you.