7 Keys To Self Development

One of the most difficult things for many people with Life Coaching and self-development is the diving in and getting started part.

I hear time and time again from new clients that they just can’t seem to do what they know they need to do to get to where they want to be. In fact it is often the reason why people come to me for Life Coaching in the first place. They know what to do at an intellectual level, they’ve read the self-help books and blogs and attended the seminars, but they don’t really know how to do break their current negative patterns.

As my Ask the Coach section staggers into week three like a two packet a day smoker that’s just been forced to jog across the Sahara wearing a lead ha, I got a great question from Kelly in Indiana. It not only addressed this issue beautifully, but also the wanting to change topic that I am so keen on.

“How do you get past wanting to want it?  I need to lose some weight.  Not a lot of weight, maybe 15 lbs.  I am almost 40 and nothing fits anymore.  I have no aspirations to look like a 21-year-old super model.  I just want to be healthier and fit into the clothes in my closets.

Here’s the rub, I am tired, stressed and lack any real motivation.  And the entire issue makes me want to eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s.  I know I feel much better both mentally and physically at the lower weight, but I can’t seem to get started.”

If you’re not sure what Kelly means with wanting to want to, where have you been all this time, I’ve been banging on about this for ever and a day?

She is referring to is the belief that maybe she should change and knows change would be beneficial, but she doesn’t really think she has the strong internal desire to do so. This is incredibly common in people I see and I have to be honest and say it’s not an easy hurdle to over come. At some point the desire to change has to be present.

Having said that, I’m not sure that this is applicable with Kelly. The fact she bothered to e-mail me demonstrates a certain level of desire and she can definitely work with that.

Firstly, let me say I don’t believe anybody lacks motivation in his or her life per se. No matter how de-motivated you think you are, if I dropped a pair of live lobster in your underwear you’d find a way of getting them out pretty damn quickly.

And if you did insist on leaving them down there, that’s because you have a whole different set of motivational factors going on that I’d rather not delve into right now. You may want to check out Crustaceans Anonymous though.

This demonstrates that motivation is present; it’s just that you may sometimes have difficulty tapping into it.  So that begs the question, or at least asks nicely, how do I tap into it?

The answer to that is problematical at best because it can vary depending on the individual so I’m going to take a generic approach.

1 Understand Your Values

Stop groaning this instant! If I were coaching Kelly the starting point would be understanding her core values. Without that knowledge I’d feel a little bit like a dwarf in a darkened elevator trying to get to a Penthouse party. I can jump around in the dark till my hearts content and I just may hit the right button, but equally I may end up in the parking lot.

Values are useful here to give me an understanding of what is crucially important to Kelly. If I know what they are then I can segue into stuff that will almost certainly help motivate her. For example, if honesty were a top value there’s an opportunity to use that as motivation by suggesting she make some promises to herself and others that she’ll achieve her goals.

Do not under estimate this. If you’re not living in accordance with your own values I guarantee you feel crap about life. I have done this exercise enough times to know that it can have a dramatic effect and prove to be a genuine A-ha! moment for many people.

2. Change Your Identity

When Robert De Niro made ‘Raging Bull’ in 1980 he had to put on over 50lbs of weight to play the older Jake la Motta. That’s a lot of weight to gain and whereas I’m sure it’s great fun eating all that naughty food, it could be a bit tricky getting the weight it off again. De Niro didn’t seem to have a problem though. Why do you think that is?

The reason is really simple. I can guarantee you that De Niro never saw himself as a fat guy. His identity would have been a slim or athletic person that was carrying a little excess baggage for a short period of time. There would have been no concern about losing it and no conversations about ‘trying’ to get back to his normal weight. It would be a done deal before he started and simply a matter of when rather than if.

Most people aren’t like that though. They see who they are now as their identity and when they want to make change it doesn’t feel right so they back off and stay in their comfort zone.

Start to see yourself as the person you want to be. Each morning and evening visualize how you’d like to look. It will feel weird to begin with, but so did the lobsters, just stick with it. Realize this is the genuine you and that the situation you’re now in is temporary.

3. Mind Your Language

Use positive goal focused language. This post will explain why this is vitally important and what to do.

4. Use Anchors

Anchors can definitely help keep you motivated to make the right choices. I used anchoring to excellent effect when I first learned NLP and couldn’t get myself up for going to the gym. There’s an explanation of what they are and what they can do here.

5. Manufacture Motivation

Do you have kids, a partner or even parents that you’d like to make proud of you? Can you make a bet with a friend? Look for ways that other people can keep you motivated until you get up and running.

6. Have Fun

If you start with a sense of dread then you’ll probably struggle. On the other hand if you approach this playfully and intent on having a great time and learning more about yourself, then you’ll exponentially increase your likelihood of succeeding.

7. Get Help

How about hiring a Life Coach or a personal gym instructor? Neither of those are free, but is a few hundred bucks invested now not worthwhile if it gives you a lifetime of benefit?

This has been a very quick and dirty look at a complex issue. I could easily spend 6+ sessions with a client on something like this so I hope you’ll forgive me for cutting a few corners.