If You Want Change, Start by Telling Yourself the Truth

three card monty

George’s business is faltering — not bringing in new clients, losing some key employees, receivables climbing and no new orders coming in. He’s worried about the trends and wants badly to turn things around.

George even knows that he’s a big part of the problem and has a long list of behaviors he wants to change.

And yet, nothing changes.

Stop Fooling Yourself

Nothing changes because what George says he wants and what he actually does are two different things. Sounds obvious, and yet this mismatch between desire and action is the top reason most of us don’t get what we want. We are fooling ourselves into failure.

“I’m doing all this dangerous behavior versus confronting the reality I need to face,” George said recently.

Like George, we all say we want change: a raise, to weigh 10 pounds less, a more challenging work assignment, a new job — the list goes on and on.

And yet… precious little change actually happens, either for George or the rest of us. Consider this: in 2012 there were 108 million Americans who said they were dieting and they spent $20 billion trying to do it. Yet that same year, more than two-thirds of Americans were overweight or obese — a record high (and the number has since risen).

Think about all the frustrating things you want to change, the roadblocks you encounter, the procrastination you create — all the ways you don’t do what you say you want to do.

Seems kinda crazy, doesn’t it?

Yeah, it is. It’s crazy that we say we want one thing and yet we do everything except that.

Talk is Cheap

Wanna try something different? Stop focusing on what you say you want.

Instead, focus on your results.

So if we say we want to lose weight, and the reality is that after six months of dieting we still weigh exactly the same, our actual commitment is to stay at that weight. If we say we want a better job and yet we’ve only sent out a few half-hearted job applications, the reality is that we are committed to staying at the same old job.

If you really want change, the first step is to stop kidding yourself that what you say you want is what you’re really committed to. Instead, look at your results and see your true commitments.

Here’s a good short video on the concept from my colleagues at the Conscious Leadership Group.

Accept Your Real Commitments

I pointed George to that video and then told him to try just accepting the fact that right now he’s committed to not improving his business. There could be tons of reasons: his desire to stay home with his kids, his fear of failure, his story that he’d actually rather be doing the coding than running the whole show.

Right now, none of that matters. What matters is facing the reality and then gently accepting his true commitments without self-judgment or criticism.

Being able to look in the mirror and own reality is the essential first step to changing it.


Photo: WikiMedia