No matter what your life's ambition, your next big project, your short term health goal, there's always a "hardest part". This hardest part has many names. It is often refereed to as a road block, a struggle point, a challenge, adversity, feel free to insert your own personal favorites. Speaking in general it really doesn't matter who you are in terms of your age, orientation, religion etc, or really even what it is that you're trying to achieve. Every goal, has obstacles (see I added another catchy word) it doesn't matter if it's financial, emotional, physical, or one of those bucket list experiences you've been putting off since the day you dreamt it.
One of the most commonly sited hardest parts is starting, taking that first step toward your destination. The old saying says "starting is the hardest part". The problem is we have this belief that once we start, once we take that first step that we now have this forward momentum and eventually we will be doing the equivalent of walking down hill until suddenly this all gets easy. We usually fail because we don't understand that starting isn't a step, it's a process that must be repeated time and time again. If your goal is going to the gym, and you finally jump in with both feet and go to the gym then you have made that first step. When you wake up tomorrow if you're going to make it back to the gym you need to make that first step, on a different day all over again. If you're feeling tired and sore and defeated after the first day, then the notion that it would suddenly become easier on the second day isn't very realistic.
Lets look specifically at health and lifestyle goals since that's typically our focus at melissaweatherall.com. What is the hardest part, or the most common excuse if you prefer the no holds bared type conversation? I have no time, I have no energy, I have no one to do it with, I need some more equipment, I'm too self conscious, I don't know how, I'm too old. That's my short list of answers I've personally given or heard from others. Our true inner desire to reach our goals usually gravitates us to that easy, fun, rewarding first step. This step is where we solve a problem like "I can't jog, I have no shoes or jogging clothes" with a trip to the mall shopping till we drop for all kinds of items that make us feel good. Every time we swipe the card we tell ourselves "it's OK, these things are necessary for our success". The next step is the actually doing... and that's the one that doesn't really work for us. So we move to the next instant gratification. A new pill to save time, a trainer or coach because we don't know how, new equipment for our home gym because we are too self conscious to exercise in public. All of these money grabbing time consuming avoidance tactics all lead us to the same place, step 2, which involves actually doing something, which is the part we aren't really into.
So I've actually spent some time looking at all these "hardest parts" and I've concluded that almost all, there are some exceptions but truly there are very few of our reasons for not reaching our goals that can't be summed up with one word "ourselves". We are self defeating and our hardest part is almost always overcoming ourselves. The next time you personally experience a challenge, or witness someone else talking about their struggle I want you to think about the mindset you observe. Is the first thought positive or negative? Is the reaction to build emotional walls and obstacles or to tear them down? People are more likely to succeed when their initial response to any situation is to find a solution not the next obstacle.
I've told the story before about a professional snowboarder who was celebrating with friends while wearing a new white shirt and drinking red wine. He spills some of the red wine onto his white shirt, pauses for a few seconds and thinks, then proceeds to dump the entire bottle soaking his entire shirt! Sounds crazy, and pointless almost self destructive but it was actually the opposite. If 99% of the people had spilled red wine on their white shirt they would think about how the stain would be an embarrassment the rest of the day, the cost of the shirt, the emotional attachment to the object, when would they get to the store to replace it... The reaction of this individual was actually perfect. What they did was recognize that the stain wasn't coming out, the white shirt was gone it was now part of the past and they let it go. They then soaked the shirt with the wine which was what they had immediately available creating a new purple redish kinda shirt, new and exciting, no loss, no remorse, no regret, instant solution and forward movement. While I don't know that this extreme instant action is for everyone, having or developing that mindset where your first thought is about the solution not the problem will dramatically increase your ability to succeed.
Your action item to get yourself where you want to be is to work on shifting your first emotional response to challenges. When you see that wall appear in front of you your first thought should be am I going to climb it or break through it. I don't have time is defeated with I can make time, I need equipment is no match for what I have will work, I'm to tired and self conscious will fall defeated to I need to wake up and not give a shit what the rest of the world thinks. Ok now that I've given you the first step, the next step is actually doing it, yes that's the one we don't like, but the only thing that can possibly stop you, is you. Make the choice, will you be with you or against you? Remember that one missing piece to your own personal puzzle almost always is you.
Guest post by Tim Weatherall