You start a new exercise program. You're super motivated. You get rolling. Start to feel and see the shifts. Get comfortable. And then... you miss a workout, here. Have an extra treat meal, there. Get down on yourself for not "doing it right," there. And before you know it, you've tossed your program.
You decide to change your life, create more space, do the work you need to do to become who you want to become, be a better leader. You're ready to roll. You're a big "YES!" And then... Now that you've envisioned it and maybe even "achieved it in your head," your current circumstances don't seem so bad. OR, now that you've agreed to do the work for yourself, the work feels terrifying -- it's easier to just survive the status quo. After all, up-leveling your life and leadership often means creating changes in relationships, creating new boundaries, saying "no" to things that don't line up, saying "yes" to things that do, getting out of your comfort zones, and yep, doing the work.
I once had someone cancel coming to one of my 2-day intensives because she knew if she did, she would "call off her wedding engagement." The fear of creating more space for herself, doing the work to get back into alignment, and getting clear about this kind of situation, was scarier (and also would be "highly inconvenient") for her than proceeding with something, she knew in her gut, was the wrong move. (On the flip side, I've also worked with people who were convinced they were going to get a divorce or quit their job, only to learn during their exploration that their problems were highly figureoutable. And that creating space for themselves, getting clear, and making changes were exactly the things needed to up-level their marriages and jobs.)
When I wrote my last book, the hardest part was finishing it. I held onto that last chapter for dear life. Working and reworking it until I HAD to submit. (I also procrastinated on that one more than any other.) Why? Finishing it was scary. What if I thought my "best" thought after it was done? What if it wasn't any good? What would I do with my magical morning writing routine I'd created for the book now? I'd created a relationship with this book. It was a living entity for me. And it was changing form. And now, now that the book was "done," well now more daunting work remained (endorsements, galleys, reviews, etc.). Finishing was tricky.
There is science and psychology behind all of this. Tons of it. Everything from if we say a goal out loud, we already feel we've done it so we lose motivation to actually do it. To how the brain experiences the idea of change (similar to how the body experiences pain). To how a large majority of people -- after they've had a cardiac procedure -- will go back to their old way of living shortly after. All because finishing what we started can be hard. And change is big. (I'm staying off science for this post to keep you with YOU, and here's an article you can look at if you're curious.)
From my perspective, after working with humans for the majority of my life on creating change effectively, here are a few places to look to support yourself in finishing what you started and staying in agreement with yourself.
- Write a vision for what the change will give you. Write it in the future. What are you seeing, feeling, experiencing, and doing because you created this change for yourself and finished what you started? It can be big; start a company. Or small; get my kids to have dinner with me more often (ahem, true story). Stay connected with this vision. (I'm a big fan of journaling and meditation and checking in with your vision and intentions daily, if only for 3 minutes.)
- Get clear on who else this change impacts besides yourself -- the why of it. Who does it serve? What does it serve? What are the ripple effects of this? (For example, if I take care of my body -- I have more energy for my kids and business and I make better decisions and I'm more patient. If I hold boundaries so I have space for me in my life and say "YES" and "NO" thoughtfully, I can be a better leader to those I lead because I'm conscious, energized, and at choice, versus surviving all the pulls, exhausted, and resentful possibly feeling victim to my life/people.)
- Stay present. Do and be day by day. Minute by minute. Breath by breath. Don't take it on all at once. Set the vision. Set the why. And then be present in the movement of it all. Every forward step counts. (This meal, this workout, this mindset shift, this "YES," this "NO," this 1-hour chunk of "deep work" time for my goals...) Stay present to each moment as you navigate your change.
- Breathe and be kind. When you fall off or lose motivation or forget why you're doing this. Breathe. Be kind. Get curious as to what just came up or what got in the way. Check any stories you maybe making up. Learn from them. And then regroup and get back on the train. Every fall can make you more resilient. Everything counts.
- Decide. Change and finishing what we started is hard if you haven't decided. Check yourself. Have you truly decided to make this change? Do you really want it, but you're scared? (Talk it through with someone.) Do you want it, but you need more information? (Get it.) Do you want it, but the way you're going about it isn't right for you? (Change strategies). And if you don't really want it, it's fine, own that too; deciding to not do something is a powerful decision. Deciding not to decide is also a decision. Deciding, any way you look at it, shifts the energy into a more solid, powerful, and productive field. The trick is to be conscious of your decision, and to make it from a place of power and awareness versus fear and unconsciousness. Decide.
To your beautiful day.