This is the third and final article in a series written by Personal & Business Coach Christine Young, that illustrate what typically happens when we try to make too many changes, too fast and overcommit. There are very specific strategies to help set you up to successfully make those changes and sustain the results. You can read Part One here and Part Two here.
How to be disciplined in life
Why do we repeatedly plan to do things differently? We start with the best intentions and fall short, over and over again. Being afraid and avoiding anything uncomfortable, scary or different is usually the biggest obstacle to change.
Often we think it’s simply a lack of willpower or discipline at the heart of not sustaining change. Usually, it’s not the case – to illustrate that, here’s a story about a former client, Natalie. She had a history of promising to make changes in her life and giving up. Natalie was caught in a cycle of self-sabotage and had lost trust and confidence in her own word. Almost daily, she asked herself, "What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just do this when I feel like I want it so badly?". Of course, nothing was really wrong with Natalie. She was just having trouble pushing through fear.
Human beings gravitate to comfort zones. That’s the place where nothing is too scary, takes too much effort or requires feeling uncomfortable. As a result, we get used to tolerating what isn’t working for us, even making excuses for the bad habits.
Natalie's story: Overcoming fear
One Monday morning, Natalie was feeling particularly sorry for herself. She had spent the weekend over-indulging and feeling bad about it. Her day started off with a disheartening stand off with her closet, and things then slowly spiraled out of control. Nothing fit her well and she didn’t like what she saw in the mirror. Silently, she berated herself all day and wondered why she couldn’t just do what she promised, time and time again.
Once at work, Natalie took a good look at her calendar and realised she had been putting off taking important actions and making changes for months, even years. She was frustrated, disgusted and ashamed by all the time and energy she had put into making changes, only to end up back in the same place. Something had to change.
How to develop willpower
Under all of those justifications and excuses, Natalie was afraid. She didn’t like feeling uncomfortable, so convinced herself it would be hard to make changes. Her fear and inability to get 'comfortable being uncomfortable' were transforming into procrastination, overwhelm and lack of willpower in her life.
If you need some extra support, click here to learn more about combatting procrastination.
Like most of us, Natalie wasn’t aware of how afraid she really was and the role fear played in her life until one day, after trying many sessions, affirmations, exercises and lifestyle changes, it simply clicked. Once she identified it and decided to face it, she was able to develop tools and build her tolerance to push through fear and discomfort.
A few months later, a new version of Natalie emerged. She lost the 15 lbs that were plaguing her for years, created a new relationship with her mind, body and food, finally asked for that promotion and started dating again.
How to build confidence and self-control
It's important to recognise those great achievements but more importantly, Natalie built her courage, strength and sense of pride. She learned to trust herself to push through fear, handle difficult situations and come out the other side unscathed.
Think of 'confidence' as a verb. It doesn’t happen because you’ve lost a few pounds or finally asked for a raise. True, lasting confidence comes from showing up every day for yourself and living up to your own ideals. Building willpower and self discipline comes from feeling afraid and having the courage to overcome it. Here are 5 important things to remember about overcoming fear, denial and discomfort:
1. It’s OK to be afraid. Fear is a human emotion. Everyone feels it.
2. Fear will not magically go away. It only dissipates once you take action.
3. Make your dreams bigger than your fear. Connect with your goals and realise what the daily payoffs will be because of them.
4. Realise the thing you are most afraid of can be like a road sign – pointing you in the right direction to help you move forward.
5. Understand that feeling fear isn’t a bad thing – it means you're growing from experience and will learn a life lesson.
Click here to learn more about how to keep your word to yourself and receive Christine’s free 3-part video series, The Follow Through Formula.
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