The reality is many of us wake up each and every day thinking we should try and lose weight, exercise more, or change something else in our lives. Whether that’s our job, career or a situation we feel stuck in, but we often fail to act upon these desires.
We tend to find ways to justify our lack of action, almost using these reasoning’s as a scape goat to make it easier for us to accept the way things are, with our excuses ranging from a lack of time to money, not knowing what to do, or even desire to try.
This can throw us into a life of accepting the way things are, simply learning to tolerate our situation, as while it may cause discomfort, it doesn’t push us to the point of pain where we feel like there’s no choice but to do something about it.
In essence this is largely because we are driven by external motivation, which tends to be the images we see in magazines or on TV, and the perceptions of the ‘perfect’ body or lifestyle we believe we need to achieve.
External motivation is all about trying to live up to the ideas we believe others expect of us, half-heartedly trying to meet their expectations because we feel like we have to, even if they aren’t what we truly want.
The problem with external motivation is exactly that, it’s external and not driving us from within.
That’s why the more powerful type of motivation is internal, as it is the reason why you truly want to do something.
Often we will hide this ‘why’ deep down inside, not wanting to face or accept the emotions that come with it. After all, we like being comfortable and not having to face adversity head on, but if you truly want to make lasting changes, this is an essential part of what you need to do.
Finding you ‘why’
Many people will come to me saying they want to ‘lose weight’ or ‘become a bit fitter’, citing that as the reason why they are pursuing help or coaching. But the truth is the reasons they initially give are only the tip of the iceberg, and it’s only by digging deeper that we can actually uncover their real reasons why.
Everyone’s ‘why’ is different, but can range from anything to a health scare and sudden realisation they may die, to wanting to make sure they are still around in 20 years for their kids, or even to regain their confidence and save their marriage, as they want their partner to look at them the way they once did.
Your ‘why’ is extremely powerful and is what will keep you going when times are tough or you want to give in. it can be what pushes you to do the work, make the time, or find the courage to try something new.
I’ve found however that it is far easier to get someone to do something for someone else than it is for themselves. That’s because we always tend to put others before own interests, as it seems to be human nature to prioritise our family, kids and friends above our own health and happiness.
With that being said though, it is our mindset that often holds us back, as we tell ourselves stories in our head that cause limiting beliefs. So for lasting change to happen, you need three mindset beliefs, and developing these will in large come down to finding your ‘why’, having a proper plan, and really pushing yourself to do it.
Belief 1: It must change
People always say they should lose weight, go on a diet or do some exercise, but the problem with should, is it’s far to convenient and there’s nothing holding you to it. The truth is anyone can find the willpower to change for a short period of time, but our goal is lasting maintainable change. That’s why you genuinely need to believe it must change, as the pain of doing something about it has finally become less than the pain of leaving it as it is.
Belief 2: I must change
It’s all well and good recognising something must change, but at the same time you also need to have the mindset that ‘I must change’. People will often go to coaches or personal trainers to help them get started, which is great. But the problem is they kind of believe that is all that it takes and results will magically happen, then blame them when they don’t. Coaches are great and can help you do and achieve things that you may not have been able to do yourself and can get you there far quicker as well, but they don’t negate you having to do any work.
Belief 3: I can do it
For lasting change to happen you genuinely need to believe that it’s possible, and that you not only can, but also will do it. That’s where so many people go wrong in all areas of their life, as while they may want to do it, they doubt themselves so much that they never really give it their all. Maybe it’s because they’ve failed in the past, someone has told them they can’t do it, or anything else holding them back. That’s why it’s essential that you believe in yourself and that you can do amazing things.
I know that’s easier said than done, but I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to stop trying to overhaul everything at once, and instead work out what your goal is and put together a step by step plan of exactly how to reach it. Then from there you can break it up into small manageable chunks. This is how you would approach any big project at work, and the same principles can and should be applied to any other part of your life as well.
At the end of the day, if you were trying to build a house you wouldn’t just start throwing bricks at the ground and hope it works. You’d plan it out, work out exactly what you need, then focus on the foundations first. Then only once you have a solid structure would you add to it, as otherwise it would quickly come crashing down.
But that’s the opposite to the approaches people tend to take, as they are always looking for a quick fix to what is essentially a long-term problem. Throwing themselves in and going full steam ahead, only to quickly burn themselves out, lose motivation and start to resent what they are doing.
That’s why all these diets and crazy workout trends don’t work, as they are too focused on the end result and not only the process involved, which at the very heart is often changing your core habits, behaviours and beliefs.
That is the easiest way to make lasting change, as it stops the process being so daunting and overwhelming, and you can start to enjoy the journey for what it is. Best of all, every small win show you that change is possible, giving you the confidence to continue building on it from there.
So if need be strip it right back, focus on the basics and build it from the ground up.
If it takes 6 weeks or 2 years to get to where you want then who cares, as long as you not only get there, but stay there as well.
I know it’s tough and chances are a big part of why you’ve struggled to change in the past will be because of your mindset. So I urge you to spend some time honestly thinking about your life, what you want to do and uncovering your ‘why’.
That is the first step to lasting change and is the biggest hurdle people fail to not overcome.