“I want to get more organized.”
“I want to quit smoking.”
“I want to train myself to get to work earlier in the morning.”
“I want to learn to be more patient.”
We’ve all heard people say things like this—or we’ve said them ourselves.
But guess what? These are usually lies. We don’t really want to do any of these things. And I’d encourage you to admit that—to stop saying “I want to do X” and realize that you don’t want to do it at all.
Before you get defensive, look a little more closely. Behavior change isn’t easy, and this simple shift in mindset can be extremely helpful in improving your success rate.
What We Really Want
You probably don’t want to start exercising. People who love exercise don’t usually need to make a big effort to get motivated to work out.
And I bet you don’t want to go through the frustrating process of improving your patience. If you liked being patient, then it wouldn’t be such a challenge for you.
Want to quit smoking? No you don’t. Few things could be less fun. Believe me. I’ve done it.
What we really want, of course, is the end result. We want to be in good shape, be patient, be non-smokers. But the effort of becoming these things is not something we desire. (If I could have taken a pill one day and magically become a non-smoker, I would have wanted that. No question.)
I’ve found that it helps people to get specific from the outset about what they do and don’t want: “I don’t really enjoy exercise, but I want to be fit and flexible, so I’m going to discipline myself to do yoga 3 times each week.”
Approaching behavior change from this more honest perspective can help you be a bit easier on yourself as you move forward. It can even add a little humor to an otherwise difficult effort.
Also, by acknowledging how tough the road ahead might be, you’re more likely to get real about your list—meaning that you won’t take on too many changes at the same time. Instead, you’ll probably get going, make some progress with the first thing, then move on to #2 once you’ve got a bit of success under your belt.
Good luck! And let me know how it turns out.