“Change Your Thoughts & You Change Your World.”
This afternoon I thought about the power of our thoughts, and the role our attitude and perspective plays in our day to day life. One of my clients had to reschedule a meeting last minute and I ended up with a couple of free hours … free hours that I wanted fill up by doing something ‘productive.’
The past couple of weeks had been extremely busy for me and I hadn’t fit in a really good workout, or let’s say, made it a priority. (I’m sure some of you avid gym goers or athletes probably can’t get past the fact that I hadn’t fit a solid workout in for two whole weeks, while others are thinking that if you fit one mediocre workout in during a two-month period you’re doing great).
Most of the time we hear people say “just because you don’t feel like doing something, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to.” That’s true to an extent, right? There are many things in life that require effort even when we simply don’t feel like giving it: jobs, school, studying, relationships, working out, to name a few…
I thought to myself “I guess I have to work out [given that I have free time and no excuses].” Notice the “have to” part. Then I thought about it for a second and said (in my head, naturally, because I like to reason with myself) “no, I don’t have to, I want to.” Because the truth is, while the workout itself can be hard to get into at first, or tough while you’re doing it, it feels so good afterwards, doesn’t it? And just that slight change of perspective can change everything.
I know, I know… this is not a new concept.
Right, but it’s a great reminder that a simple attitude adjustment or change of heart can completely affect the overall outcome of a circumstance … and our ability to achieve our goals.
We can force ourselves to do things we don’t ‘feel‘ like doing for X amount of time (which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t usually last long-term), but if we can decide to ‘want‘ it for ourselves, it can become so much easier and enjoyable with long-term feasibility.
At the moment I’m learning to speak Italian as I’m currently living in Italy. At times it’s really not too bad at all: I spent a few months studying at an Italian language school over here, and I can see gradual improvements as I add new words and phrases to my vocabulary, slowly becoming more conversational …
However, sometimes it’s more like…
…. Followed by …
At which point I feel like a massive failure. The feeling of dread overcomes me… and I am forced to put “STUDY ITALIAN!!!” (in big font, all caps) on my mental to-do list, making it more of a forced action or obligation… and you can imagine how far that gets me. Nowhere.
Why? Because when something suddenly becomes a dreaded obligation instead of something we want for ourselves, we generally try to avoid it all together. If I look at learning Italian as something I want to do for myself, for my own knowledge and for this new chapter of my life, it’s so much better.
What about diets and working out? That’s something many people are familiar with. Personally, I like to stay healthy and active and have always been more of an “everything in moderation” type of person when it comes to workouts and food (I try to eat healthy but never deprive myself and I’m not a gym addict, but I generally aim for 3-4 good circuit workouts a week).
I know lots of people who have tried to force themselves to diet or workout at some point in their life, wanting quick and easy results. They think they can commit to a strict short-term diet (i.e. force themselves) and maybe a few weeks of exercise and BAM! back to the old lifestyle (which is a vicious cycle).
Now, I’m not a fitness expert, nor am I intending to give you workout advice, but I will say that (for me), it’s not about restricting myself from food or forcing myself to workout. It’s a lifestyle choice because I want to be healthy.
There have been a handful of women over here who have asked me what kind of workouts I do, and how long I’ve been doing them for, hoping to hear something along the lines of ‘a few months’ (in my life). They’re thinking that a forced short-term effort of diet and exercise is feasible when they could be achieving longevity through a desired lifestyle change.
If we think about it on a deeper level, do we tell ourselves we have to become a better listener, a better communicator, a better employee, a better person, a better student, a better manager or maybe a better husband, wife, partner, son, daughter… etc? Do we say we need to be a nicer person? A friendlier person, perhaps? Do we try to kick old (possibly bad) habits, but fail because of the lack of commitment or dread of obligation?
Realistically, how many of us like feeling obligated to do something, especially if it requires change? No one. I mean, if it’s not something we naturally want to do, will it ever really be a priority?
So, what if we change that type of thinking to “I want to” become a better ______ (you fill in the blank)? “I’m not forcing myself to diet or exercise, for example, I want to get fit because I want to be healthy.” Or “I’m not forcing myself to stop smoking, I want to quit because I want to be healthier.” Doesn’t that change things up a bit? Personally, it makes whatever that “thing” is sound a lot more attractive in my opinion.
The Takeaway: If we can change the way we look at whatever the situation is in front of us, and if “I have to” can become “I want to“, it’s a game changer.