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Resisting What We Want

Now, why would anybody resist what they want?

That just doesn’t make any sense! Yet we do it all the time.

Take Tony. He’s a busy executive who is on the road a lot.  An ex-collegiate basketball star, Tony believes in fitness and good nutrition. He says he’s committed to it.

But when Tony feels under pressure, he craves “comfort” food  such as burgers and fries and Snickers bars, and just wants to watch TV in his hotel at night instead of working out.

He knows what he wants: exercise and healthy food. But he resists it for what he thinks he wants in that moment.

Do you make “to do” lists?  What an excellent way to get organized about the things you want to accomplish.  Especially at the start of a weekend, when all things are possible!  Then the phone rings and a friend invites you over to a gathering.  “Well, it’s important for me to keep my friendships in good order” says the little voice in your head.  Off you go and the list you just made gets pushed to the back burner.

Confused?  Yes, you are!  So am I, and everyone else. We think we know what we want, but when we make choices counter to those directions, we get confused. “Did I not really want that?” “Why do I always sabotage myself?”

So what’s in the way? Fear of discomfort. Fear that life is short, so that what we want right now for comfort seems more important that what we really want for the long-term. There’s also a fear of failure. “If I don’t get the results I hope for from the actions that I take, what was it all for?”

How does one shift this?  Here’s a quick road map:

  1. Get clear on just three things that you really, REALLY want.  No “should’s” that belong to someone else.
  2. Think about what habits would support the goals in #1.  Choose one high-leverage habit to focus on, one that when implemented will create change in many areas.  An example is going to bed earlier – it would allow me to feel more rested, exercise more, have less stress, have more energy and stay healthier. Charles Duhigg, in his excellent book “The Power of Habit” calls this a Keystone Habit.
  3. What habits do you need to let go of?  Again, look for one that is affecting many areas of your life.  An example might be watching the news for an hour a day.  Losing that habit would free up time, probably make you feel happier, keep you from sitting for an hour, and create space for conversation.
  4. Stop letting yourself off the hook.  In the very enlightened interest of self-care, we avoid discipline in the guise of “taking care of myself.”  Stop it.  Discipline will bring you what you want.  Let yourself off the hook occasionally – 1 out of 20 times.  Keep that ratio and you’ll keep on track.
  5. Create a list of Healthy Rewards.  We are VOM’s – Victims of Marketing.  We have been brainwashed to think that we should celebrate with food, alcohol,  and shopping.  Those things are in the interest of those sell them, not those who utilize them.  Create your unique list of healthy rewards for when you have a win or simply make good choices.  Some of my coaching clients’ lists have included an hour of uninterrupted reading, a massage, listening to music, taking a favorite walk, playing with a dog or taking a bike ride.  Not exciting enough?  Really?  What could be more exciting than knowing you’re actually staying on the path you’ve chosen to enjoy life to the fullest?

You will experience discomfort and you will fail.  Many times.  What?!

That’s right.  Accept that, so you can stop resisting what you really, really want.

Dive in with enthusiasm!  Try different approaches.  Be resilient.

When you fail, get creative with a different approach. Revel in your discipline and laugh at yourself when you fall off the wagon.  Then climb back on.  Follow the five steps above on a continuing basis and be amazed at your wondrous life.

Read more posts by Ginger Jenks, JenningsWire blogger.