Insight of the day: It is not knowledge of solutions that we lack. We lack the knowledge and discipline to apply what we already know.
You know the
hammer drill. You read an insightful article full of great information and helpful tips to improve your life, but its messsage fades from your consciousness two days later and you’re back to watching Desperate Housewives (noooooo). This story varies with each person, but the theme is common – we all watch Desperate Housewives it’s difficult to change just from reading or knowing solutions.
I’ve wrestled with this for some time, which is another way of saying I’m lazy and it annoys me that I still am with all of these solutions. But now I understand what it takes to make important changes. It requires 4 “pillars” to work. If you’re missing any one of these, you will fail.
First, a quick look at the pillars required to walk the walk:
- Understand the point of the change (benefits)
- Make it present and accessible – physically and mentally
- Renew it daily
- Do it.
The “it” in those pillars is your new insight, goal, or target behavior. It’s the change you would like to make.
When I was a kid in Florida, we grew six foot tall sunflowers in our backyard. Only now do I realize how cool that is. These flowers thrived in the robust Florida sunlight and enjoyed frequent afternoon showers. They grew well over my head back then, but after eating a lot of pasta, I’m 6 feet tall and I could look them right in the seed (their version of “eye”).
Last month when I was spearfishing in Kauai(!), I didn’t see any sunflowers on the sea floor, nor did I expect to. And yet, I have been guilty of expecting my own growth in similarly poor conditions. That said, the pillars are to us what sunlight and water are to a sunflower. These are the four conditions we need to grow.
1. Understand the point (benefits) of the change
The benefits of the positive change you want to make must be clear to you. Losing weight is not a benefit – it’s a new status that gives benefits such as improved appearance, better health, greater athleticism, and so on. Benefits are the reason that we change, and that’s why we need to keep them in mind.
You will naturally resist change unless the benefits of it outweigh the downsides. If you don’t consider the benefits, the negatives of the change (there are downsides to every change!) will seem like too much hassle and you’ll avoid it.
2. Make it present and accessible – physically and mentally
If your goal is to be able to bench press your own bodyweight, you’re going to need access to a bench press with weights. That’s physical accessibility. Give yourself all of the tools you need to make the change. Mold your environment to match your new goal. Make sure you get a gym membership if that’s what you need. Don’t hesitate to make it possible, even if it costs money!
To make it mentally present and accessible means to be constantly mindful of the change you are making. You can’t say you want to work out and then put it in the recesses of your mind while you think about your typical daily agenda. That formula results in the “someday” disease.
Even when you aren’t able to do anything, think about your next opportunity to do it. This is important because any change you make is new to you. The new guy is always most likely to be ignored amongst a group of old friends, which is why you have to make a conscious effort to fill him in on the inside jokes. Treat your new goal like a new friend and give him extra attention, or else your old ways will take over the conversation in your head!
3. Renew it daily
When you take time to recommit yourself to making the change each morning, you convert the long term goal into a short term task for the day. Just think about it – getting in shape or getting out of debt can only happen over a period of time by taking the same responsible actions every day. When you give your mind the task of building a wall, it has to convert that into one brick at a time.
Getting in shape is running at 15 MPH at 4:35 PM tomorrow for 25 minutes – repeated every day for two years. If you did that, you’d be in great shape. It’s not just saying “I need to get to the gym more.” Make a daily plan that matches your long term goals and not only will you reach those goals, but you’ll thank me later for this article, which is a nice bonus.
4. Do it
Once you have done the first three steps, TURN YOUR BRAIN OFF. The switch is behind your left ear. Your brain has done its job, because…
- You understand why you’re doing it
- It’s very possible in your environment
- you’ve made your daily plan on the road to glory
The only thing that’s left is to get….it…..done!
Your brain can only harm you after you’ve made daily plans. Why?
- “Well, I’m kind of tired.”
- “I want to be an early bird, but I can hit snooze once more.”
- “That ice cream looks delicious.”
- “Just this once.”
- “I’ll start tomorrow.”
NO NO NO! Shut the brain off and stick to your plan!
Every tomorrow becomes a today when it arrives, and if this is how you treat your today, your tomorrow (i.e. future) will be lame. But if you let your earlier strategic thinking overrule your in-the-moment whims and urges, good things will come from your daily mastery.
Now pick a change, reflect on the benefits, make it accessible, create a daily plan, and do it.
If this goose can do it, so can you.