Have you ever made new years resolutions that for some reason only seem to last a few days into the new year before going back to doing what you were doing before? Have you ever wondered why most people don’t stick to their new years resolutions? I think everyone has.
The reason most people never stick with their new years resolutions and fail to achieve their goals is simply a matter of emotional leverage. What do I mean? Let me give you an example from my own life. When I was in my early 20’s and trying to finish college and graduate with a degree in construction management, I had a few classes that were kicking my ass. I had taken and dropped calculus 3 times and was starting to feel like I was never going to graduate and get my degree. What made it even harder was that I had gotten an unpaid internship with a General Contractor that turned into a full time job. I was making good money for a young kid. My reason for getting a degree in construction management was so I could get a job as a project engineer in the construction industry. Well I already had that entry level job, but it would affect my pay down the road if I did not get my degree.
It was about this time that I got my first life coach. I wanted to get my degree, but unless I passed calculus I would not be able to graduate. He taught me that people will do more to avoid pain than they will do to gain pleasure. He helped me discover that I was sabotaging my own success unknowingly. What I discovered was that I was associating more pain with studying and doing my calculus homework out of my irrational fear that I was not smart enough to pass the class. I was more afraid of finding out I was too dumb to pass calculus than I was excited about graduating. This caused me to always give myself excuses to put off doing my calculus homework until the absolute last minute. Then when I tried to cram and learn several weeks worth of calculus problems in one weekend before a test, it was impossible. I would then go to class and do poorly on my tests. I kept doing the same thing over and over. It always ended the same. I would have to drop the class before the drop date deadline to prevent getting an F. I did that three times.
My life coach taught me to flip the script so to speak. I realized I associated more pleasure with blowing off my homework than I did actually doing it. By putting off my homework, I would delay finding out if I was smart enough to pass calculus. I mean, what if I really tried to do my homework and found out I was too dumb to understand and learn it? That would be devastating! So my coach taught me to think a different way. To write my goals down and schedule them. It was the only way they could be realized. Instead of blowing off my homework, I scheduled a few problems each night. I broke it down into bite size pieces. I thought… “what are the consequences of putting off my homework? What is this going to cost me (i.e. pain) if I watch my favorite TV show instead of doing my homework?”
I learned a completely new way of thinking. I not only applied this new way of thinking to passing calculus, but towards everything I wanted to do in my life. Going to the gym, eating healthy, setting goals, going after the jobs I wanted, talking to women, etc. So when ever I felt like being lazy or not doing what was essential for the achievement of my goals, I always asked myself, what are the consequences of not doing what I know I need to do? What pain is this going to cost me? What am I going to miss out on in life, 6 months from now, 1 year from now, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, what will it cost my family, my kids, etc.
So here’s how to set yourself up to give yourself massive emotional leverage and achieve any goal you want. Take a sheet of paper and write one goal at the top of it. Then divide the piece of paper into two vertical columns. Label one column “benefits” and the other “consequences”. Under the benefits column, list all the positive things and benefits that will happen in your life if you consistently take action towards your goal. In the consequences column, write down all of the painful consequences and things you will miss out on and not be able to experience by not taking the required action towards achieving that goal.
Then have this piece of paper next to your bed, on your mirror, etc. or someplace where you can and will review it EVERY DAY. This will enable you to constantly remind and re-program yourself to get enough emotional leverage to continually take the daily actions required to eventually achieve your goals.
If you can do this for 30 days, studies show you will do it for 6 months. If you can do this for 6 months you will do this for 2 years. The more you do this, the more this empowering way of thinking will become a part of who you are, how you act, and how you think. Over the years you will be absolutely amazed at what you can accomplish. Of that much I am sure. By the way, after I applied what my first life coach taught me, I got an A in calculus. If I can do it, so can you 🙂
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Author, Speaker, Peak Performance Coach, Entrepreneur
“Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly.” – Aristotle