A very long time ago I heard a story about a man who searched the world over for someone who could tell him the meaning of life. At long last he found himself, starving and freezing, at a cave entrance high in the Himalayas facing a renowned Wiseman
“Please,” he gasped, “tell me the meaning of life.”
The man looked at him. “Doing stuff,” he said. Then, taking pity on the man’s collapsing face he added, “…as opposed to death, which is not doing stuff.”
I’ve always liked that story (which may say way too much about me) because it also addresses many of our drinking patterns: drinking becomes a way of “not doing stuff” or a substitute for “doing stuff.”
What aren’t you doing? What would you like to do? What do you think is impossible? Or too scary? What don’t you think you deserve?
We are always working at doing stuff, and helping you learn to do stuff, and getting you to teach us new stuff. Don’t let alcohol move you into the “not doing stuff” category prematurely – or permanently.
Under the category of ”doing stuff” comes goal setting. It’s a New Year and now’s a good time to start thinking about real goals and the process for achieving them. Remember that goals need to be specific – “lose 15 points by June 1st,” not “lose weight.”
We suggest that you divide your life up into manageable categories and consider one area at a time. For this week why not sit down and write out you perfect home or work situation? If you could have it the way you wanted it right down to colors, smells, sounds, people, pets, and so on, what would it be like? Don’t forget to include the “absence of” items like “no traffic noise.
If you want to change or break a habit you also have to change the context which encourages and supports the habit. It’s never enough to stop drinking, or stop smoking, or lose weight, or do any of the other things we never seem to get around to.
We all know how it goes. We think about making the change. We do a little research on the net, or pick up a book or two, or we visit a local gym, but we never really get around to actually doing anything. We don’t call the places we found on the web and their spots on “favorite” lists grow old and unused. The books are unread. The gym remains a mystery.
Of course, occasionally we do make a half-hearted stab at change, usually around this time of year, but a week or two later we’re back to the same old routines.
What’s the problem? Part of it is that we know what we want to stop, or lose, but not what we want to do. So we try quitting drinking, or losing those pounds, but we don’t alter our lives in ways that support the change and pretty soon we’re right back to doing what we’ve always done.
It’s probably no real surprise that this is not a strategy for success.
What does work?
Researchers into successful change have found that change is a process. We first become aware that change is needed; then we think about changing and perhaps do a little research, read a bit, and/or go to a therapist. These two stages can last just about forever, as most of us know.
Next comes the action stage where we finally get around to doing something. The trouble is most of us are ill-prepared, take the wrong action, get the wrong help, underestimate the challenges, and fall back into more thinking about the change. We frequently decide it’s impossible, or too much trouble, or that the impact on our lives is worse than what we are trying to change. That’s the reason why we call this stage “contemplation hell.”
So, if you really do want, or need, to change, and the usual ways don’t work, what can you do? You can start by looking at things from a completely different angle. After all, you know what hasn’t worked for you (and remember Einstein who said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”) so how about trying a different approach?
Start from where you want to end up!
Crazy as that might sound, its part of what actually works. Think about it. So far you’ve just tried to stop doing something without ever thinking about what you’re going to do with the time and energy the old habit occupied, or the needs it met. You stopped. For a day or a week or a month, but then the old needs and habits pulled you right back.
Instead, take some time to figure out how you want your life to look without the drinking, or smoking, or extra weight, or whatever else is dragging you down. The object is to give yourself a clear picture of a better life than you have now. Now that’s motivating!
How are you going to create that picture? That’s what we’ve created the Goal Setting Guide and Weekly Planner for. These will guide you through the goal setting process so you end up with a clear idea as to the life you want as well as some tips on getting it.
Remember – successfully getting rid of a habit mostly means living a life that doesn’t have either any time or space for the habit to occupy, nor any reason for it to drag you down any. Your wants and needs will be met in healthy ways, you will eliminate boredom, depression, and loneliness and you will find your life more interesting than it’s ever been.