“I know what I should be doing, but I’m not doing it, and I don’t know why.”
I hear that sentence, or a variation of it, from nearly every client I’ve worked with. Whether it’s trying to eat better, trying to reach a career goal, or trying to improve all areas of her life, my clients know what they should be doing…but they aren’t doing it, or, they do it, but fall off the wagon very quickly, giving up in a heap of frustration, self-doubt and beating themselves up.
The main reason why this happens is that there is some sort of inner-saboteur running the show. There is inner resistance. There is a voice deep down that is telling you that you cannot be/do/or have this thing you’re trying to do. This leads to procrastination, perfectionism, bingeing out and self-doubt.
For example, my client Leslie kept sabotaging her weight loss efforts because she felt bad she was “leaving her mom behind”. Her mom wasn’t doing anything to be healthier or happier, but Leslie was, and every time she made strides forward, her guilt and her deep need to please her mom would stop her and so she would stop her own progress foward so she wouldn’t “feel bad”.
My client Mary kept sabotaging her career efforts because deep down she doesn’t believe she can do it. She hits on some success but is terrified all the time it will be taken away. And when her managers ask her to do more, she sees it as a threat rather than encouragement that she’s doing well. So she starts to do really good, and genuinely wants to, but then her inner critic and resistance rears its ugly head and stops her in her tracks and procrastination becomes her best friend. And this furthers the cycle of self-sabotage.
One of my clients wrote: Knowing me and how I go about my life, I have this problem with beginning.
In many ways I am a perfectionist, I’ll never feel satisfied with a work I did until it’s 100% perfect. This quality usually backfires at me as well, because it stops me from beginning important things in my life.
I’ll leave things until the last minute, why? Because “I work better under pressure”; consequence? I’ll end up either not being able to concentrate because I don’t feel like the work meets my standard or on the worst case, I’ll put it off for even later and end up not doing it all.
With all of these women, once we identified what sabotage was really running the show, and helped them see that they had a choice to listen to that voice or their own intuitive voice, falling off the wagon, procrastination, perfectionism and self-doubt were no longer an issue. They had no trouble motivating themselves anymore because they no longer had the start/stop mentality which is so hard to keep up long-term (how exhausting is it trying to push that boulder uphill all the time? How exhausting is it having to restart all the time?).
Now that you understand why your motivation wanes, here’s what you can do about it:
Take the RRRRA approach…
Reminders – When you begin to embark on that goal once again, this time set reminders everywhere. If your goal is to get healthier, have images of a healthier you, or inspiring images of other healthy people around you. Make it your screensaver, on a vision board. Put it on your fridge, your mirrors, in your car.
Regrets – (also see Your Big Why, below) – What would it feel like for you to NOT reach this goal? Imagine yourself 6 months from now, in the exact same spot you are right now. Imagine you haven’t pursued your dream, you haven’t reached your goal, you haven’t taken action. What would it feel if you know you could have done more but didn’t because you were too scared or you didn’t prepare enough or you let self-doubt win the day?
This might sound harsh, but this is the truth – if you’ve been struggling with the same goal for years, look back 6 months ago to now and be honest about how diligent you’ve been and what might be getting in your way (hint – I already mentioned it above).
Rewards – Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do to reach our goals. Sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones. I for one am doing a lot more public speaking. Yeah, the barf-inducing kind. On stages with real, live people! It’s terrifying. I want to run away, I want to hide, I want to NOT do it with every fiber of my being, but I also know that if I DON’T do it, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.
So what can you do to reward yourself for doing the big hairy scary stuff?
But be careful not to reward yourself with something that will sabotage yourself. For example, if losing weight is a goal, you can’t reward yourself with a burger. There’s nothing wrong with having a burger, but that burger is maybe what got you into trouble in the first place, so why not reward yourself with a new outfit, or a sexy pair of shoes, or a spa day?
Replacement – What are the bad habits that are getting in your way? If you are looking to get a promotion and expand your career or business and every night you’re sitting watching Netflix, we have a problem. If you want to be recognized for excellence, you need to EMBODY excellence. This means you need to prioritize self-development, learn skills that will help you shine in your next role. Also, just taking out a habit leaves a void, and that void needs to be filled and if you’re not careful your self-saboteur will fill it with destructive crap. So be sure you have a healthier habit to replace the one you want to get rid of.
Accountability – Every high performer and person of great success has a coach. Bottom line. Just ask around. My client Sarah hired me specifically to help her with her mindset so that she could transition from a President role to one of CEO. And not just CEO, but the first FEMALE CEO of her industry. That’s a huge deal. Not just for her, but for woman-kind.
She knew she had demons that were keeping her stuck. She was playing small, she wasn’t taking care of herself physically, she had no practices that helped her manage her stress, and she simply did not feel that she looked or, more importantly, thought like a CEO. So we worked together to get her there and she is one interview away from that job. Could she have done it without my help? Probably, but she had so many sabotages that she likely would have talked herself out of it way before she really had the chance to go for it. And that would have been a huge bummer for herself, and all the women she wants to influence and inspire in her industry (not to mention to shake up the industry itself!).
Bonus Tip: Remind yourself your Big Why. In the first week of The Delicious Life Movement I take all my women through the practice of identifying the deep reason why they joined the program. You have to go way beyond the surface goal. For example, say you want to speak on stage or go for a big promotion this year. You’re all excited about it, and on the surface, you’ll get recognition and maybe some more money. But that’s not enough to keep you motivated when times get tough. When you apply for that promotion and you see you’re up against some stiff competition – all your saboteur demons will come up and knock you out by telling you that you’re not good enough, you’re a fraud. So you have to go deeper. What’s the REAL reason you want this? And keep asking yourself – why? Why do I want that, and why do I want that?
There are many simple ways to fake it till you make it and that works too (such as the Tony Robbins effect where you pump your arms and ra ra ra before doing something big, or where you can don an alter ego like Beyonce does with Sasha Fierce), but until you get to work on that root cause, your inner saboteur, you may find yourself back at ground zero all the time.
So give yourself the gift of looking deep within and questioning the negative voices telling you that you can’t and dig even deeper still into your Big Why…and hire yourself a good coach -you won’t’ regret it!