Don’t you love a story about someone making big, sweeping changes and transforming their lives? It’s even better when it happens all at once... and quickly! Stories of transformation can be very inspirational and motivating and help us believe we can do it too. Sustainable change however, doesn’t usually happen as fast as we hope.
It’s not very exciting to think about going on 25 first dates before we meet that special someone. It feels like forever to reach our weight goal by losing a pound a week. It’s not so appealing to transform at a slower pace but it’s often the best route to success, and the fastest long term.
This is the first of a series of three articles 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.
Often, people who have been 'trying' to achieve a change in their lives keep hitting the wall of self-sabotage. What happens and why don’t we stick to our commitments to make the changes we so badly say we want happen?
Here’s a story Christine heard from a client recently about her journey and desire to make important shifts in her life and stop procrastinating – let’s see what can be learned about how to stop self sabotaging thoughts.
Natalie's story: How to stop procrastinating
In the office conference room that Monday afternoon, Natalie sat through what she felt was another useless, completely boring never-ending meeting. She was feeling tired, restless and already depleted from the day. Natalie had spent the weekend having fun but as usual, she overindulged in sugar, alcohol and then there was last night’s pizza and ice cream.
She promised herself that today would be a reset. Not only a food reset but a new, “today I step up my game" attitude. Natalie vowed to get up early, workout, meditate, be on time for everything, get focused at work and even make some fun, social plans.
The alarm went off at 6am that morning and Natalie pressed snooze. She overslept and didn’t workout or meditate but did manage a healthy smoothie for breakfast and a salad for lunch.
But now at 3pm, Natalie was hungry, tired, totally unmotivated and wanted something (anything) to get her through the rest of the workday. There were baked goods left over from an earlier meeting just sitting by the office printer. Natalie broke off a piece of the carrot muffin, “it’s just a small piece,” she thought. Many pieces later, topped off by a diet soda and potato chips, she felt bloated, completely unfocused and frustrated with herself.
That painful inner conversation began again, “What is wrong with me? Why did I just eat that? Now the whole day is blown. I promised myself I would get back on track today and I can’t get through one day. I don’t have any willpower or discipline. I’m tired, my clothes feel tight and I just don’t have the energy to even care right now. I really don’t have the energy to be great today. I just want to get through the day and go home.” She was ridden with low confidence.
After complaining to her work colleague and berating herself, Natalie rebounded, “I need a jumpstart! I know, I’ll start a juice cleanse tomorrow. That’s just what I need to kick my butt. A few days of juice and smoothies and I’ll feel like a new person. I’m so excited to start tomorrow.” And so develop self sabotaging behaviour patterns.
Feeling optimistic, Natalie grabbed a couple of pieces of chocolate out of the candy jar on her co-workers desk – after all tomorrow starts a new chapter and she won’t be able to indulge for a long time!
What do you think Natalie did the next day? Would you bet on her?
How to stop self sabotaging your goals
Here are some self destructive behavior signs to try and conquer.
1. Watch out for overcommitting
You vow to make multiple changes or one big change all at once. Remember, successful transformations usually happen gradually. It may not be exciting and may feel like too long a journey, but making small changes consistently over a period of time sets you up for success.
2. Stop giving up today and vowing to start over tomorrow
In the moment it’s easy to believe it’s 'just for today', but today is yesterday’s tomorrow. Do what you can now to set yourself up for success tomorrow.
3. Watch the conversation you have with yourself
You know that nagging voice in the head that says things about ourselves we probably wouldn’t say to our worst enemies? This pattern of negativity and feeling bad causes the very behavior you are trying to change to continue. The worse you feel about yourself the less likely you are to focus on the positive and take the actions you want.
4. Question and challenge your excuses
Must you skip your workout because you feel tired? Does the sugar really make you feel refreshed and calmer when you are stressed? Be honest with yourself and challenge the reasons you use to get off the hook from keeping commitments.
5. Stick to your promises
The more you break your word, the less you believe in your ability to create and sustain change. Losing trust and confidence in yourself to follow through is a major roadblock to making positive changes. How powerful would it be if you could trust yourself to follow through on every commitment?
To learn more about how to keep your word to yourself and receive Christine’s free 3-part video series, The Follow Through Formula click here.
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