I recently overheard the most ridiculous argument. One wanted another to have goals; to strive for something beyond what they were doing.
Seems reasonable on the surface, except for the yelling part. Except for the frustration part. Except for the forcing of a personal belief to impede on someone else.
Wanting more for someone
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting someone to be better. It’s my ultimate life code: Everyday be better than yesterday, and it’s the reason I, too, can get snotty with people if they ask for help, than continue to do what they’ve done, continue to complain about it, and continue to ignore the advice they asked for. Eventually, I remember it’s not personal; they’re just not ready.
Even with my similar views on the role of goals in everyone’s life, I found this angry approach – well – insane. Attacking someone into betterment, to fit a personal ideal, is destructive. In essence, this approach causes someone to feel bad, to look at themselves as less, and break them down so they don’t have the energy to find any goal, or figure out what they love, except to figure out how to hide away from the crazy screaming directed at them.
In this specific situation, the person choking on forced goal-setting had lived a sheltered life (lives in the same house they grew up in) especially in comparison to the other (a world traveler, university grad, etc). Instead of screaming You need a goal! DOOO IIITTTTTTTT! why not take that person out to see the world. In this case, there isn’t far to go. Just bringing them around new people on a local level (like a peer group, a.k.a. friends of the other) would add some perspective. Seeing the world doesn’t mean exotic, just something different from the norm; somewhere to check out how other people do things, to see if that might be worth incorporating into their world.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink
Understanding the Frustration
I get how incredibly frustrating it is when it’s so clear how someone else could better themselves, and their life, but they’re so lazy! That’s really what we think, though it’s completely unfair, in most cases. We genuinely want to help, but, unfortunately, that fact doesn’t lessen how debilitating this forcing of our opinion on someone will be. We can’t make someone WANT to be a way we think they should be, or that we think they also think they want to be (say that 3 times fast). Finding ourselves in this pattern tells more about us, than them. An ironic situation, since the whole reason it even came up was FOR THEM.
Patient conversation to ensure mutual understanding is better than running into the room, exclaiming, “Hey, we’re doing this thing! Let’s go!” Besides a possible coronary, there won’t be a whole lot going on after that intro.
You might even think they’re ready, that it’s something they really want to do. Ever been uber-excited about something, convinced another will be just as excited, then, they’re not, and all your enthusiasm goes out the window. You find yourself annoyed that they didn’t feel the way you’d anticipated them to feel? It sucks, often times making you second guess yourself, and your own feelings on the matter. Also ridiculous, and another paradox of the human experience.
Establishing the desire, than establishing the willingness to DO something, before establishing a plan to get the doing going, might bring two people to the same page. Contemplating something, and actually willing to put energy into said something, aren’t the same thing. We sometimes think they are, especially when we’re already doing said thing, and want everyone to join us. It seems unfathomable that someone would have trouble getting it. Why don’t they want to jump on the wagon? Can’t they see how awesome it is just by watching our experience with it?
Contemplation versus Action
There’s an entire mental process between thinking about doing something and actually doing it…
When someone begins to think about the possibility of needing to do a thing, the conversation can begin, but it’s far from the LET’S GET ON IT RIGHT NOW phase. Possibility is the key word here. This is simply the recognition point that, maybe, one day in the future, this will be something that might actually happen. This is why, when someone says something such as, I should start exercising, but does nothing, there should be no surprise, or annoyance. Stating something out-loud doesn’t actually mean they’re really ready (as annoying as this is about human nature). Even though it’s been said, it’s still an idea that needs to grow until it reaches an actual decision point. A statement said (or thought) at this stage, merely brings about the internal conflict between wanting a thing and not wanting to put energy into changing. This stage can lasts years, and too often, people never make it past here. (As I write this I’m filtering through everything I’ve ever said I’d do to make sure I’m not sitting in this place about anything. I don’t think I am…)
This is when an actual decision takes place, yet, even here, there isn’t always action right away. Here, a plan needs figuring out. Sometimes, small changes can manifest themselves, almost a feeling-out of the new situation. If weight loss is the goal, food changes might start to occur. If exercising is the goal, research into what types of exercise, whether or not to join a gym, etc. might be looked into.
Again, not a lot of DOING here.
Here it is! Action! This is what we were looking for (about time)! Let’s start hauling them into our wagon!
Be careful before we get celebrating. If the prep phase was overlooked, this phase could fizzle out before any real progress is made. Jumping into action without a goal, or plan of attack, usually leads to disappointment. Exercising, with no clear accomplishment point, can never generate the positive feedback we need to maintain motivation. The same holds true with everything we strive to accomplish. S.M.A.R.T. is smart for a reason.
Making it through the beginning days/weeks/months of action will lead to new patterns of behavior. This is something worthy of praise, but it doesn’t mean the end. Action, once established, leads to yet another phase – MAINTENANCE. Here, consideration of not falling back into old habits is the priority. Learning ways to combat temptation are key in this phase, so that ACTION is sustainable, and regressing to past bad habits doesn’t happen. (I recently hit a target goal, and have to remain extremely conscious not to slip back to the way I was before I started working for that goal. Reaching the point where I don’t have to expend so much energy in maintenance is the new goal).
Remember these phases, not only when trying to help someone else begin a new path, but for helping yourself. It’s okay to take time deciding, than figuring out a plan, as long as you get to the ACTION part, and keep trying. There will always be a certain amount of falling backwards. Re-tuning our brains from things we’ve done our entire lives, isn’t easy, but it gets easier the more consistently we do it.
The great news is, making changes in one area of our life, makes it easier to change in others. Learning better habits is a skill-set unto itself that will cross-over and through, from health to business to relationships, exponentially increasing our quality of life, for ourselves and those around us!
- Recognize any of this stages in decisions you’ve made for yourself? …
- Have any tips to progress from one stage to the next? …
- Think this is total crap? …
…let me know! I’d love to hear from you!