Why do I miss the mark so often? Why can’t I do better than this? Maybe I am trying to do more than what I am capable of and should expect less from myself. It will be easier that way”. Ever talk to yourself like this?
Focusing on Behavior:
If your actions have not led to desired outcomes, you likely have vowed to do things differently. You decide, “From this point forward, I am going to eat better so I can lose weight.” Or “I am going to spend less money on useless things so I will have some retirement income when I am old”.
I am going to ___________, so I can have__________.
Seems like a great plan. So, DO that. If only…
Anyone who has had this outlook has undoubtedly experienced similar unsuccessful conclusions. We adopt a diet plan; start working it doing the things according to the plan. A week later, we see little results, and get discouraged. You recalculate your ROI (Return on Investment). “This sure seems to be a lot of work for such a small return”. You keep going even though you have lost some of your motivation, still holding onto some hope. Your friends encourage you and that helps, but after another week, you lose the desire to continue. You decide to “postpone” your program until you can recharge. The problem is not what you focus on DOING, it’s what you are NOT focused on that you don’t SEE. You have your eyes focused on the wrong outcome. Doing the thing is not the end. It’s the means to an end.
When our goal is to lose 20 lbs., it is not hard to discover a good plan of what you need to do to do it. It is simple. Eat nutritious food, limit your consumption of carbs and calories and exercise daily. You will indeed lose the weight, and apart from extreme outliers, you are guaranteed to do so. So, what is the problem? Focus on doing that!
It’s not a deficiency of knowledge. It’s interesting how many diet plans there are. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers (WW), Nutrisystem, Keto, the South Beach diet, Atkins, and many others. Each of them has a different approach towards health, but the core of all their success is the same. If you are asking which program works the best, I would tell you, the one that is followed.
So, why do entrepreneurs keep reinventing the wheel? They know that until people address the root of the problem, they will continue searching for the magic pill. Their customers want to reap the benefits without having to face the actual cause of the problem. Any prevailing problem with an alternate solution will have people willing to spend money on it. Facing the truth is more difficult. It is amazing how much money we put towards a solution that promises to reap a reward without having to sow the seed. It’s the ultimate life-hack, the silver bullet. The only problem is that they don’t work. The influence of marketing works when our reasoning skills don’t. And they often don’t.
We try to gear ourselves up to exercise each day. We would rather sleep in and relax, but if we want to hit our goal, sacrifice and suffering must take place. When we focus on our laborious behaviors, our desired outcomes are lost in the fog of our discomfort.
We focus on what we can’t do or have. The desire for that Egg Mc Muffin that beckons me every morning on the way to the gym needs to be overcome. Through brute willpower, I need to push through to victory!
When our focus is on the problem or that impulse which we must resist, we set ourselves up for an internal battle. When we focus on the problem, we will grow weary and quit. We will resort back to the strongest desire that gives us relief or captures our attention in the moment.
Maybe fighting against yourself isn’t the best option. Maybe we could partner with your future self instead?
DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:1f02j“Why do I miss the mark so often? Why can’t I do better than this? Maybe I am trying to do more than what I am capable of and should expect less from myself. It will be easier that way”. Ever talk to yourself like this?benefits without having to face the actual cause of the problem. Any prevailing problem with an alternate solution will have people willing to spend money on it. Facing the truth is more difficult. It is amazing how much money we put towards a solution that promises to reap a reward without having to sow the seed. It’s the ultimate life-hack, the silver bullet. The only problem is that they don’t work. The influence of marketing works when our reasoning skills don’t. And they often don’t.
“Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” Luke 11:17
Focusing on Habits:
When it comes to bringing about change, there seems to be a wrong assumption that the key is focusing on habits. There is truth to this, however focusing on habits might just be leading us astray more than helping us. We have all heard that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. I don’t necessarily, agree with the numbers, however I agree that repetition is one of the major keys. This message implies that if we can muster up enough motivation to push through enough times, we will eventually gain traction that will replace our willpower and propel us forward.
We try to gear ourselves up to exercise each day. We would rather sleep in and relax, but if DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:ec64jwe want to hit our goal, sacrifice and suffering must take place. When we focus on our laborious behaviors, our desired outcomes are lost in the fog of our discomfort.
Changing habits will always involve discomfort and perseverance. This idea is missing an important component. You have your emotions pushing you to do what you don’t desire. You are doing something you don’t prefer and hoping this all becomes habit before you run out of emotional energy. Good luck.
When our endgame is to push through the pain, hoping that your endurance can lead to a new automatic habit, you will forget the purpose for the desired habit and quit.
Focusing on Goals and Benchmarks:
When we want to make a change or develop new habits, we learn to make a goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). Creating SMART goals according to this formula does reduce resistance and raise your likelihood of reaching it. It is an excellent formula. Benchmarks are notches along the way that help you know if you are on pace to reach your goal. They are like mile markers along the highway. Goals and Benchmarks are necessary, but if not accompanied by the desire and focus to become the kind of person who automatically does the habit, you will be running against the wind. You will find yourself motivated, swimming upstream for a time until you become exhausted and fizzle out. You will end up exhausted, floating back to the comfortable, unfulfilling bad habits you are trying to overcome.
If your desired result is to swim a half mile upstream, don’t work hard at becoming a brilliant planner and goal setter. Don’t hire a motivational speaker to get you all worked up into an emotional frenzy ready to swim the Atlantic. Work hard at becoming just a little more like Michael Phelps. I don’t know about his ability to plan and set goals, nor do I know about his emotional state. I do know that swimming a half mile upstream is likely a drop in the bucket for him. He likely could do it in his sleep. I doubt if Michael Phelps would need to psych himself up or set a goal to swim a half mile. He just does it, because it is who he is, a swimmer.
Olympic athletes don’t succeed simply because they have well-orchestrated goals. They succeed because they become great at something. They become a person who does great things because of who they are, who they have become. The skills that have become part of them. The adrenaline boost in the moment is just the cherry on top. Goal setting and self-motivation are important parts of the process. But without something greater to set your sights on as the inspiration behind the goals and benchmarks, they will fizzle out. But we all know that.
Making the goal our primary focus does not lead to fruitful outcomes. At least not when it is the end goal. When the end goal becomes the means to itself, it will always collapse.
Focusing on Identity:
I wrote a blog article about how goals are ineffective without vision. A vision of whom we want to become is a more encouraging approach than focusing on what we must sacrifice. All the extra work we must do is discouraging if it is our core focus. When we want to lose 20 lbs, a shift in the paradigm can make all the difference in the world. Rather than being locked into thought patterns that constantly remind us of the agonizing steps we must take, we can focus our sights on what the future will look like when we change the trajectory of our actions.
I have struggled with this most of my life. I have a different mindset now. A few years ago, when I started working out again, I tried a new perspective. When I would wake up and think about going to the gym, I focused on how I will feel when I am healthy. I will require less sleep, be tired much less and have longer days. My attention span will be greater, my mind will feel sharper, and I will be clearer minded and creative. Eating healthier will help my immune system to fight off illness and help to feel my best.
Learning how to project my focus into the future, I experienced some of these same emotions in real time. I would imagine how I would feel as the new me. The actual rewards were still in the distant future. I began experiencing the emotional effect up front. This made a big difference! It’s called vision.