If you are a person who:
1. Sets a goal
2. Identifies the behaviors that need to change in order to meet said goal
3. Lays down plans for changing said behavior
4. Applies consistent exertion towards the aforementioned plans and behavior
4. Continues to execute on those plans until goal is reached
This is not the blog for you.
If, however, you are a person who:
This is your blog!
I’ve been there. Great dreams. Huge passion. Dramatic gestures. Exciting progress. Flagging energy. Increasing insecurity. Waning commitment. Surging disappointment. Wash, rinse, repeat, ad, infinitim. I’ve bought that particular T-shirt. Wore it out, got holes in it an stains on it and now only wear it on laundry days when everything else is in the wash.
More and more, little by little, I’m inching towards the kind of person in example #1. Now, there are many, many things I’m doing to make progress from being number 2 to being number 1, and if you want to know more about them, hit me up for coffee or join one of my cohorts. One of the smartest things I do however (see, never say I never gave you anything), is when the energy is flagging, motivation is ebbing and second thoughts are flowing like a river is to ask myself why.
I'm an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, and tied up with a bow of ambivalence. And for every resolution for change, there’s an almost equally strong part of me that’s happy as a clam being just the way I am. There’s a big portion of my monkey mind dedicated to living to eat bananas another day. And that part of me is pretty clear if we did stuff yesterday, we didn’t die from it and we got to eat bananas, then that’s awesome; lets do the same stuff again today. My monkey mind is REALLY clear that if it ain’t broke, don’t $@&()*_!Q$$@ fix it! Now this tactic has its appeal when trying to survive in the actual jungle, but it has drawbacks when the life I want to live extends past just surviving to actual thriving (look at me, profound and rhyming).
So when I want something really badly, but I just can’t seem to get myself to do anything about it even after trying to sweet-talk, bribe or black-mail myself, then I sit down and have a chat with the monkey in my mind. Actually, I don’t so much chat as listen.
And for those of you who think this is some sort of metaphorical thought experiment, let me disabuse you that notion. I actually ask. And I actually listen. I take a piece of paper; draw a line down the middle; on the left side, I write questions and on the right side of the paper, I let the monkey in me have fun with the pen. Usually after writing for a while, it becomes clear that I have either been ignoring, angering or scaring the monkey. After he throws poo at me for awhile, he usually settles down and together we come up with a solution that allows me to move forward towards my goal without unduly upsetting him.
It might sound a little goofy. If you’re making the progress you’d like rocking example #1, then go you. Carry on! If, however, you’re stuck, then try getting inquisitive about the motivations of your own mental Curious George; you might find the answers illuminating.
BTW, if you want a more sciencey description of our challenges with change, check out Drs Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey’s oh so awesome book, Immunity to Change (although fair warning, way less monkeys in their version).
If your fears could talk, what would they say to you?
Photo Credit: TeroVesalaine Pixabay