Interesting story going around about motivation. Researchers discovered that “planning” to quit smoking or lose weight — as in New Year’s resolutions — was almost a guaranteed way to fail.
The only sure-fire way to quit, or lose, is to have a health crisis. That was my experience. I smoked for ten years — my idol was Humphrey Bogart, and I was under the delusion that having a cig hanging from my lips made me look debonair or something. And I only quit after suffering severe bronchitis (headed for pneumonia).
Two years in a row. Got sick, quit… started again… got sick again… and finally quit for good the second time. That was over thirty years ago. I still have the occasional craving for a smoke — there’s nothing that replaces the joy of flooding your system with nicotine during a break from writing. Nothing.
And yet, I never indulge.
Apparently, people who plan their escape from bad habits and/or unwanted weight the most obsessively… are the ones to bet on to fail most spectacularly. I remember many friends trying hypnosis, counselling, and lots of tricks (like wrapping their packs of cigarettes in rubber bands, so it was a hassle to get one out). Nothing that involved forced discipline or avoiding cold turkey worked very well. My friends who tried the craze diets — like the Atkins — became insufferable bores on the subject… and the evangelism lasted until the day they fell off the wagon with a thud.
I’ve been studying life-change for decades. I am living proof that you can change your life radically, almsot overnight… using nothing but a few tools like a pile of self-help books (such as “Think and Grow Rich”), a glimpse at the path you want to take, and a “gun to the head” attitude that refuses to recognize failure as an option.
And yet, even friends who have watched the transformation refuse to see it as something they could repeat themselves. They stop talking to me about their problems the second I interupt their whine and offer concrete steps to take.
They really aren’t ready to change yet, you see. They just want to wallow in misery, and they resent any attempt to remind them they have choices..
I was thinking about this while talking with an old friend who suddenly has to change his ways… because he had a heart attack. Two stark choices: Lose the Type A behavior patterns and live… or get back on the workaholic treadmill and die soon.
And I have another friend, who had one of those birthdays that hit him like a brick. He’s suddenly no longer young and full of potential — he’s middle-aged, with dwindling opportunity to “grow up” (as he calls it) and either do what he wants to do with his life, or continine the drudgery of his “life on hold” habits.
He’s depressed. It’s bad. Something’s gotta give… and it could very well be that he merely comes to terms with never going after what he truly wants in life. That will be a shame… but it won’t be an uncommon choice.
They’re not asking me for advice, mind you. They know what I would tell them: Quick dicking around, and jump into life with renewed purpose and motivation. Go after what you want. Stop pretending life comes with a “do over” switch, or extra chances after time has elapsed.
I mean, if you’re a Type A workaholic, and you haven’t yet had your little face-to-face with eternity moment… why not change now, while you’ve got extra energy, and won’t have to spend a couple of years recuperating? Just skip the heart attack part, and change now.
And if you’re avoiding changing your life, and it’s bothering you because you just know you won’t be happy if you find yourself on your deathbed without having written that novel, or travelled to India, or gotten a tatoo, or whatever… why not skip the coming depression and just change now?
I’m serious. Why not?
Your biology is set against you. All your plans will likely go for naught, because we aren’t wired to change without drastic motivation.
Then again, it’s not a hard and fast rule. Many people DO change without a health crisis or nervous breakdown. And they’re not lucky, either — they’re just done with walking around like a zombie, waiting for Fate to intervene.
No one gets out of here alive. What you do during the time you’re given is completely up to you. What you’re doing now is the result of choices you’ve made in the past. You can’t undo many of them, but so what?
People travel with kids in tow. Novelists finish great works while holding down a day job. Entire families have changed entire lifestyles, leaving the suburbs behind.
Broke and clueless people have tapped into the Information Age and become rich and clued-in.
Pursuing another path may not immediately bring you oodles of happy moments and the dream life you want. However, it’s for sure you won’t find what you seek if you don’t take that first step.
It really is all about motivation.
PS: Still a couple of spots available for the March 11-12 “Hot Seat” workshop. Had another cancellation — must be Spring Break or something that weekend. I will likely never offer such an intimate, intensive one-on-one type of event again — it’s an amazing opportunity for marketers wishing for “face time” with an honest pro, but it’s exhausting for me. I’ve got this one in me (I’m actually relishing the event), but I doubt I’ll do it again. If you’re at all interested, hop over to www.john-carlton.com/Hot_Seat_Seminar.pdf right now.
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