Of elephants and other obstructions…
Welcome to 2017
If you’re like many of us, you’ve entered the new year with at least one goal or positive intention. Maybe you want to make more money, work less hours, spend more time with family, lose weight, eat healthy or exercise consistently. So, one week in, how’s it going? It takes a good six weeks to set a new pattern, so if you are already finding it challenging to honor your intention, this post may help.
Creating lasting positive changes in our behavior is challenging. Why is that, especially when we really want the results? What is it that keeps getting in the way? There are many books on the topic and since I love accumulating knowledge and practicing theories on myself, I’ve read and worked with a number of them. Some have been quite powerful in their reasoning, some included excellent tools, all provided at least some valuable insight. Yet, weeks or months later, my goal would fail… yet again, and nothing I’d read or applied was able to stop it. Why is that???
I have a theory that has held true in my personal experience and been validated by a number of my clients. It’s the “elephant in the middle of the room” and it has been the cause of many of my unfulfilled intentions.
14 years ago my world was disintegrating. My marriage was failing, my career was eating me alive, I was overweight, depressed, unmotivated and obviously unhappy. Yet on the outside, my life looked really great (so much for appearances). I was drinking at least two glasses of wine, beer or mixed cocktails every night to keep it together and I had been living that same life for about 15 years. Alcohol addiction was my huge elephant at the time.
Eventually my behavior became so destructive that I couldn’t help but finally see and deal with the elephant. On January 10, 2003 I quit drinking, once and for all. Problem solved, right? Nope. The clarity provided by a sober brain simply revealed the next elephant… and I had to sadly end my marriage. Then the next elephant became glaringly apparent and I changed jobs. A few years later my nicotine elephant went the same way as the rest.
Without all those elephants taking up space in my life, I was able to discover fitness along with a new career. By 43, I had reinvented practically everything in my life. Today I’m still happily sober, single and loving life as a fitness coach.
Sounds like a happy ending, right? On one level it is an amazingly wonderful life, yet I’ve still been unable to gain traction on one meaningful intention… achieving the physique I deem important to my career and active lifestyle. Why is that? After reading lots of books, talking to experts, and applying recommended behavior modifications, I still haven’t gained lasting results. Again, why is that? Yup, another elephant…
Today I’m finally ready to look at the one that has been right in front of me the whole time. It’s my sugar addiction and it’s been with me since I was a child who loved to eat multiple scoops of frosting right out of the can (that’s quite different than licking the frosting knife.) For the last 14 years, while I’ve been dealing with bigger elephants, this one has been quietly standing there, waiting for me to notice it. Instead, I’ve done my best to prove that it either didn’t exist or was perfectly manageable… all to avoid having to actually tackle it head on.
The thing about those huge elephants taking up all the space in the room, no matter how quietly they stand there, whether they are the jobs, family members, addictions, or whatever, is that they don’t go away by themselves. Instead, they will simply keep getting in the way of our achieving our goals… until we actually look them square in the eye and force them out of the house.
I wrote this post because I suspect there are many of you also, so busy working around your own elephants that you don’t even see them. Or, maybe you’re just so used to sharing your lives with an elephant, that you accept them as perfectly normal. Please hear this clearly… you don’t have to live this way. You can get rid of the beast if you want to. We always have a choice of what we don’t want in our lives and we can make amazing changes happen when we tackle them head on. It won’t be easy, but it can definitely be done and it will be worth the effort.
Part of my job as a coach is to help people discover what is stopping them from gaining traction on their goals surrounding health and fitness… their own elephants. Sometimes the issues are so big they are overwhelming and can’t be removed without help. In my office, I keep a supply of business cards to the experts I rely on to help both myself and my clients work though specific hurdles… therapists, attorneys, accountants, nutritionists, chiropractors and physical therapists.
So, if you’re tired of not achieving your positive intentions, whatever they are, and are ready to figure out what’s getting in the way, give me a call and we’ll chat. If I can’t help, I’ll bet I know someone who can… because I’ve yet to encounter an elephant that won’t leave with enough encouragement!
BTW… Because, stats matter, I keep track of everything. One day at a time, today I have 5,113 days without alcohol, 4,073 days without nicotine and 8 days without sugar.