There's something addictive about reading self-help books, articles, and blog posts, don't you think? You get a lot of insights from the author and you feel ready and raring to go right after you’ve read something inspiring. You feel unstoppable...at least in the beginning. You feel like there's nothing that can hold you back. You know that this time is the time you're finally going to succeed.
It's almost like a drug. You feel a rush that you can only feel when you're presented with a new idea or new methods that you think just might work better than the last one. You smile, knowing that you're going to crush it.
Unfortunately, the next day that enthusiasm is drowned out a little bit. The first day, the day you read the book or article or heard about the new method, you felt unstoppable. You felt like nothing could hold you back-- nothing.
But the second day, you start to realize that you've been silly, haven’t you? Of course there are things that could go wrong. Of course you've tried and failed with similar plans in the past. Of course there are some more things you have to think about this time. It's only smart to think this way, right? Ugh, those doubts are coming…
Then, the next day things get even more sinister. How could you have ever thought that idea would work? How stupid! How could you have ever thought that you’d see real and lasting change in your life? It's completely laughable. You've failed so many times in the past. You're so busy that you can hardly even think about adding something like "habit change" to your plate. What in the world were you thinking? At that point, you might give up. Or, maybe you keep on going with those doubts in your mind, holding on to the hope you felt in the beginning that you really could see the changes you want to see.
It's really discouraging to feel this way, but it's also extremely common. I wish we could bottle up the hope we feel in the beginning of something new and take a sip from it whenever we need to, but we can't. We can't hold on to that early-level hope and maybe that is a good thing.
There has to be a balance. You need to feel that flutter of excitement in your stomach when you learn a new method or feel something new. You need to have those early moments when you feel that absolutely anything is possible. That's a good thing-- that hope and excitement are invigorating.
You also need that soul checking and fact checking that comes after the initial high wears off. I want to be clear that this does not mean I’m endorsing kicking yourself or talking down to yourself.
You need to be rational in your decision-making. Why? Why can't we just hold on to the Pollyanna blissful hope forever? For one thing, that initial hope is often unrealistic. Are you really going to have a perfect, blissful time as you try to change some of the biggest and most important habits in your life? No, of course you're not going to have that experience. Of course things are going to go wrong. Of course you're going to run into roadblocks that you have to persevere and go around even when you really feel like giving up.
You need a mixture of the fantasy and the reality. But what you really need is the conviction to follow through no matter what happens. You need to be able to combine fantasy (“I'm REALLY going to change this time and it's going to be perfect”) and reality (“I am going to have trouble with this and it's going to be HARD but I’m going to do it anyway, no matter what”) to see real and lasting change.
When you combine the two, you'll be excited, and a little nervous, but absolutely sure that you're ready to handle any stumbling blocks that come your way.
When people first hear a new idea or read a self-help strategy, I don't think they are ready to combine the fantasy with the reality. I think that's why self-help books are so popular and fly off the shelves.
People love that initial high-- that feeling that this time, they'll see real change. But when reality sets in, they’re off to chase the next Bright Shiny Object. It's a real shame, because you may have passed up tons of methods and strategies and ideas that really would have worked for you.
That's okay, though. Each one of those times you got really excited and pumped up but then failed to follow through were all preparing you for this moment. Every experience and setback you've had has all led to this point. I hope that by shining the light on what's happening in your mind, you can truly be in control of your destiny.
You get to decide whether my advice throughout IMIT on habit change works for you. You get to decide if you're going to follow through and put it to the test. I want you to pay attention to that feeling of fantasy and wonder you feel right now as you contemplate habit change.
But then, allow that dose of reality to come in. You WILL find it hard to change challenging habits sometimes. This is a journey. This is a journey that I think will help you change your habits for the better-- faster and more successfully than just about any other method out there. But, you have to allow that reality in and know that you are strong enough to overcome the "reality" and self-doubt you might be feeling right now.
Get excited, because there are some amazing things coming your way. You won't only feel good and confident and happy as you make the decision to change your habits for the better… it's my hope, goal, and experience that you'll feel good, confident, and happy more often than not since you're about to change very important habits for the better. You're going to tackle your goals and habits little by little, one by one, until you've layered successful change upon successful change and become the person you want to become.
Are you ready? Are you prepared for the fact that next week or the week after you might not feel as enthusiastic and powerful as you're feeling right now? Get ready, face the facts, but also allow the magic and wonder through. Because habit change and getting to live the life you want to live truly is magical. And you get to choose that for yourself.