“Your brain is not designed to make you happy. That’s your job.” – Tony Robbins
The alarm sounds at 5:30a.m. You slap the snooze button with a groan and roll over, burying your head beneath your pillow. Ten minutes later, you’re waking up to the same dreadful buzzing sound. You sit up slowly, rub your eyes and swing your legs off the side of your bed to zombie walk to the bathroom. The first noise of the day is cold water running from the faucet and smashing against the surface of the sink. You turn on the light and squint at the reflection in the mirror. Splash! Cold water from your cupped hands hits your face and sends a message loud and clear to your central nervous system: “Wake up!” Before you complete another thought, you’re in the kitchen with the coffee maker switched on, impatiently waiting for the pot to fill with enough coffee for that first cup. Each blink of the eye gets heavier as you fight fatigue. The lights are on, but no one is home. After what feels like an eternity, the coffee stops brewing and you pour it, scalding hot, from the pot into your cup. You raise the cup to your lips, inhale the aroma, and take a small first sip. Suddenly, all seems right in the world. You look at the clock and realize twenty minutes have passed and you have to leave the house within the next half hour. Your mind races. Sip. Without a thought, you turn back towards the bathroom with coffee in hand to jump in the shower. Sip. 6:10 a.m. You’re out of the shower and staring blankly into the closet deciding what to wear. Sip. Clothes on, shoes tied, briefcase in hand. Sip. “Am I forgetting anything?” Sip. 6:29 a.m. “I don’t have time to worry about it. I have to go.” Gulp. The ceramic mug hits the counter top with a high pitched “ding” and you rush out the door.
Some will argue, “this is not me”. Yet, we can all write our own version of this story, if only on an “off” day. Even when running our normal course, most of us have a routine, deliberate or not, that commences upon waking and serves as the human version of auto-pilot. On the surface, the story depicts a reasonable series of events accompanied by an ordinary, perhaps familiar, internal dialogue. So what is missing?
One of the greatest challenges we face when implementing habit change is getting to the root of our motivations and using this information to help define our true goals. The reason so many of us fear change is because we know it means tip toeing outside of our comfort zone. As a result, we often choose goals based on what we think we want or, worse, we let external forces define our goals (i.e. magazine covers, “reality” TV, celebrities, or “that friend that always looks amazing without trying”). Even the best trainers, coaches, and mentors cannot force change to occur. A proven methodology still won’t guarantee success unless the person implementing it is committed to executing. So how do we stay motivated to achieve our goals once they are clearly defined?
While there is no silver bullet, the foundation for change is rooted in two key ingredients that we as coaches and individuals often neglect entirely. Specifically, why are we seeking to make a change in the first place? Without a well established purpose, the likelihood of achieving success plummets. In order to define purpose, we must start by acknowledging and accepting where we are today with a renewed sense of clarity. The truth is, if people knew what the road to success looked like before they achieved it, most would give up before they even started. That is why having a compelling enough reason to make change is a required ingredient in the recipe for success. That clearly defined purpose, if meaningful enough, will carry us through when things begin to unravel.
When things do unravel (and they will along the way), there is another ingredient beyond our purpose that is essential in keeping us from going off the rails. Moments of weakness most often infiltrate our day when we’ve encountered a setback or when things don’t go as planned (i.e. you woke up to a couch that was reupholstered by your dog while you were sleeping and now you’re vacuuming up cushion remains instead of enjoying your coffee). No matter how great your plan, rarely will things go as planned. Certainty and control are two illusions that we falsely convince ourselves exist to perpetuate a sense of comfort as we move through our day. While there are few guarantees in life, one thing that can be controlled is your mental state, starting from that moment you open your eyes each day. This brings us back to our story. To add these newly discovered ingredients to our narrative, we have to view things from a different lens. In doing so, we foster a perspective that encourages us to approach things in a way that significantly increases our propensity to thrive.
The alarm sounds at 5:30 a.m. You open your eyes and blink two or three times as you adjust to the sunlight coming through the window. You turn the alarm off, sit up slowly, rub your eyes and swing your legs off the side of your bed. You take three deep breaths as you straighten your back. As you focus on your breathing, you take five minutes to acknowledge all of the things that are going well in your life – after all, you just woke up to sunlight, you’re breathing and you have full use of your arms and legs. So far, things are looking pretty good. You walk to the kitchen, flip on the coffee maker, and head back to the bathroom while your coffee starts to brew. You turn on the light and squint at the reflection in the mirror. Splash! Cold water from your cupped hands hits your face and sends a message loud and clear to your central nervous system: “You’re alive!” Three more deep breaths as you dry off. Back in the kitchen,the coffee stops brewing and you pour it, scalding hot, from the pot into your cup. You raise the cup to your lips, inhale the aroma, and take a small first sip. Suddenly, all seems right in the world. You step in front of the window and stare back at the sun that gently woke you moments earlier with a sense of appreciation. You look at the clock and realize twenty minutes have passed and you have to leave the house within a half hour. You pause for one minute longer to gaze out the window and take in the moment, acknowledging that the day is full of new, unrealized opportunity. Full of gratitude, you turn back towards the bathroom with coffee in hand to jump in the shower. Sip. 6:10 a.m. You’re out of the shower and putting on the outfit you arranged the night before. You take a minute to look in the mirror, straighten out your shirt and recognize how great you look. Sip. Clothes on, shoes tied, briefcase in hand. Sip. “Am I forgetting anything?” Sip. You double check the table next to your front door that serves as the home for your essentials (phone, keys, wallet) 6:29 a.m. One more glance out the window at the sun. Gulp. The ceramic mug hits the counter top with a high pitched “ding” and you head out the door ready to conquer your day.
“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer