Photo from 9lives.
About four and half years ago I made a life changing decision.
I’ve talked about it before, but a friend recommended I give hot yoga a try. I went and barely made it out alive.
Then I went again. And again. And again.
About the fourth or fifth class, I had an “aha” moment. If I go to this class often enough, if I give myself this time, something will change. And at that particular point in time. I wanted change in a big way.
My life as it was, simply was not working.
So I committed to going to a class three times a week when I was in town. And that’s exactly what I did for about three and half years. More specifically, I practiced yoga Monday, Wednesday and Friday every morning my feet were in Greenville, South Carolina.
And changes, big ones, happened.
I grew stronger in mind and body. I started thinking more about the food I ate. Being present became much easier. I seldom lost my cool over silly little things. I learned to breathe.
Breathing is something I recommend everybody learn how to do, by the way.
Committing to those specific three days was the magic bullet.
But earlier this year something shifted. I started bartering with myself. When the alarm went off at 5:20am, I said things like:
I know I go on Mondays, but I can go on Tuesday instead.
I don’t want to be late for a meeting, so I’ll practice on Saturday (something I seldom ever did).
My practice time dwindled to about once or twice a week. All because I had let what days I would practice become negotiable in my mind. My directions for maintaining this positive change weren’t clear anymore. I was being way too vague.
I decided to re-read Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Switch.
Which is one of my all time favorite business/life books ever written. Seriously, everyone should read this book at least twice.
My problem hit me the minute I re-read this sentence:
What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity. So when you are trying to make a change, provide crystal-clear direction.
To borrow an analogy from the book, my elephant and my rider were out of sync. And the elephant was wining his battle.
My rider, my rational side needed clearer direction.
I spoke with a woman who practices daily. She gave me a few tips and some inspiration. I decided to re-commit to going five times a week! To make that even clearer and even more specific, I decided to make those practice days Monday – Friday.
And it’s working!
My direction to myself is now absolutely crystal-clear. There is no room to negotiate.
So. What are you trying to change in your work or personal life and how can you make that change easier by being crystal-clear in your direction to yourself or others? Think about what behavior you really want to have happen and ask yourself, am I leaving any room for negotiation?