I’m beginning to feel that I have to change my approach.
You see, every month I see fresh clients full of bright-eyed enthusiasm for the new habit they’re starting: or some other kind of regular creative practice.
But, oh how quickly that excitement turns to disillusionment as their plans to get up earlier, stay up later, or do their new habit during lunch-break, start to break down.
Pretty soon they stop checking in with me because they don’t want to own up to having ‘fallen off the wagon’ - even though that’s the very reason they need a coach.
And then, despite my best efforts, they’ll slink off and unsubscribe from my coaching. Sometimes leaving a kind testimonial or at least a friendly message, sometimes just vanishing into the wind.
And I understand. I do. Who wants to be the person who admits that after just a month, two weeks, or even two days, they can’t maintain the commitment they’ve set for themselves?
And so I’ve come round to the idea that right at the beginning of our coaching relationship, I need to ask a tough question.
Tough, but straightforward, I might add:
“What will you give up to make this new thing happen?”
(I’m a compassionate person, and a compassionate coach. I don’t really like asking tough questions. But sometimes they have to be asked.)
Why we can’t just keep adding more commitments
“You only have two options right now. Attempt more than is humanly possible and fail. Choose what to bomb and succeed at a goal that matters. Perfectionism tells you to take option one.”
Look at us - the human race, I mean. We’re already on overload.
We only have so much energy. We can’t keep adding new tasks and habits to our schedule and expect to keep functioning.
Whatever you may think, you’re not going to function well on 5 hours sleep or by giving your new habit half-ass attention while you eat your lunch.
Sooner or later, you’re going to hit the snooze button, or drop into bed exhausted two hours earlier than you planned, and all your good intentions are going to fly away. Or your pre-lunch meeting is going to over-run and the best you’ll manage is a sandwich on the way to your next appointment.
This is normal. This is human.
What’s not normal or human is to think you have infinite energy or infinite hours in the day and that you can do an infinite number of things.
You can’t. You won’t.
And even if you can say,
“Oh, I just have so much time on my hands, I just don’t know what to do with it!”
You know what? It probably just means that you’re already doing as much as you can do with your time - because of your health, because of your age or because of your disposition.
If you had the capacity for more, you’d have already filled it. That’s nature’s way. Nature abhors a vacuum.
Why you need to give something up to start a new habit
It seems ludicrous that it needs spelling out, but it does:
If you want to ADD something else to your weekly schedule, you need to SUBTRACT something.
‘Giving up’ stuff is not confined to when you’re trying to lose 10 pounds or stop smoking. Oh no, my friend. Giving up is ESSENTIAL to creating any new habit.
Let me say that again.
You need to make SPACE for this new thing you want in your life.
When you decide you want to start something new: learn an instrument, improve your drawing, go to the gym, read a book a month - and I mean, when you REALLY, REALLY, WANT to do that thing - then ask yourself the tough question:
What am I prepared to give up to make this happen?
Because if you DON’T give up something, your best intentions will stay just that.
If you need some tough love getting going with a new and much-desired habit in your life, then take advantage of a rare lull in my coaching appointments.
Jump on a FREE Skype call with me to talk about how to make this thing happen. If it seems like we're a fit, I’ll even throw in a week’s free chat coaching via the messaging app of your choice.