"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
My personal journey started about six years ago when my oldest son, who was eight at the time, came up to me in the kitchen, shook my belly and said, "Mommy, you're fat." While I had spent years trying to lose weight through fad diets and so-called "life changing" weight loss pills, this was the straw that broke the camels back for me. I knew something had to change and what I had been doing until that time obviously wasn't working.
I remember sitting down with a personal trainer, asking what I needed to do to lose the weight and keep it off. He gave me a laundry list of what then felt like absolutely impossible tasks. And at the top, of course, was eating right and exercise. Eating right, I could do.. but exercise? I didn't have time for that. I was a new mom of two young boys, a new business owner, with a full time job and volunteer duties on top of that. I told him it was impossible to fit exercise like he was saying I needed into my schedule. It just wouldn't work. I needed another way. I'll never forget the look on his face when he finally replied to my rebuttals, "You just don't want it bad enough."
Looking back now, I know he was right. I didn't agree with him then, but it was true. I wanted the body. I wanted the energy. I wanted the confidence and feel good emotions that came with being healthy, but I didn't want to put in the work it required to achieve it. I used lack of time and resources as an excuse as to why I couldn't when the real reason I couldn't do anything was because I didn't want it bad enough to make it happen. My only limiting factor was myself.
Six years, and over 100lbs later, I'm now the one on the other side of the table, encouraging and explaining what it takes to see the change people really desire. When it comes down to it, it's not just the weight we want to lose, it's the old mindset, the inadequate and undisciplined self that we want to get rid of. Pounds will come and go, but a strong mindset will last a lifetime.
So, how do we get there? How do we become DRIVEN? While trying to answer this question myself I asked my husband, Doug, what DRIVEN meant to him. His reply was absolutely perfect. He said, "The problem is people expect life to come with a remote. We want to click a button and change the channel when we want something different but the reality is, real life doesn't come with a remote. You have to get up, walk across the room and change the channel. You have to want change bad enough to get up and do something about it."
American inspirational author and founder of SUCCESS Magazine, Orison S. Marden once said, "Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them." Don't wait for someone to walk by the TV and ask them to turn the channel for you. Get up and change it yourself, and if when you sit back down it's still not what you want to watch, get up and change the channel again. Every day is a new opportunity to start fresh and to try again. Don't settle with daytime television when you can dive into a SciFi thriller. It's time to get up and change the channel.
Just like fires don't begin with massive logs, and neither does personal growth. The old saying, "Rome wasn't built in a day." Yeah. Rome actually took 276 years to build. That's 1,009,491 days. Legends take time and consistency.
Vincent Van Gogh said, "Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together." This simple principle is key to having a DRIVEN mindset. Focusing on growth, the small day-to-day details, eventually add up to make big picture changes. However, when we focus on performance, and evaluate what we've done instead of focusing on how we can do better, we often lead ourselves into a crippling cycle of self-judgement and criticism. Performance focuses on meeting a standard where growth focuses on moving forward.
While setting goals and having something tangible to work toward is vital to any form of success, the act of reaching that goal should not be the determining factor of actual success or failure. A desire for progress can last forever, but the desire to reach a goal dies when you reach it, or when it seems out of reach. So instead of using our goals as "the bar of accomplishment", we should use them as a tool to get started and monitor progress. This is so important to remember because as we evolve, and life evolves, our goals will also evolve.
All I thought I wanted when I got started was to lose about 50lbs, but once I got into the gym and realized how much I enjoyed being active, my goal shifted from wanting to lose weight to being able to run a 5k. Then I wanted to run a 10k, a half marathon, complete an obstacle course. As my body changed, and my outlook changed, my goals changed. The "bar" I set was constantly moving because I was discovering there was so much more I could do than what I had initially thought.
Some goals I set and met, others I set and then changed. Did I fail because I didn't meet them, or because I decided I wanted to change them? No. I didn't fail because my goal wasn't really the goal, my goal was progress. It was to be better, to do more, to challenge myself and my limits. Life doesn't stop once you lose the weight. You can't "get there" and then stop what you're doing. If you do that, you'll slide right back into old routines and old thought patterns that will facilitate the same situation you were in before you started working toward your goal. "The key to being a success is to continue being a success." You have to keep doing what you're doing, you have to keep pressing forward. Otherwise, you're a one hit wonder who talks about "how it used to be", instead of how it is now.
The greatest thing about being DRIVEN for progress is that progress begins the instant you begin and happens before we meet any significant milestone. We place our focus on day to day wins instead of waiting months to feel the excitement of reaching a goal. When I focus on my daily tasks of improvement, and see the change and difference on a daily basis, it encourages me because I'm constantly having moments of "win", as opposed to days and sometimes weeks of working and waiting for the feeling of accomplishment.
Having a growth DRIVEN mindset is having the belief that you can develop almost any ability through dedication and hard work. Effort is essential in the path to mastery. Excellence isn't something you're born with - it's something you work for. People don't just "have" confidence, they develop it. You don't become good at running by sitting on the couch. You excel with repetition, practice, and effort.
I remember being so upset after my lunch meeting with the trainer that day. How dare he tell me what I did or didn't want? He didn't know me. He didn't know what my daily life was like. He didn't understand how busy I was. I was clearly asking for help so I obviously wanted something! The problem, however, wasn't with the advice he gave me. He was 100% right. I needed to clean up my diet. I needed to get more active. I needed to make an effort of making my health a top priority.
The real problem was that I didn't like his answer. It didn't fit my schedule. It didn't mesh with the lifestyle I had at the time. Being uncomfortable in my body was more comfortable than making the change I needed to really see and feel a difference. Instead of taking ownership of the position I had put myself in with my lifestyle, I got upset at him for not making it easier for me to get to where I wanted to be. I wanted him to pat me on the back, tell me to eat a couple salads, and three weeks later I'd wake up with abs. It was easier to be upset and do nothing than to take responsibility for my actions and try it someone else's way.
Being DRIVEN is recognizing that in-action is as much of a choice as taking action. Whether you choose to eat a salad and chicken at lunch or a burger and fries, you're making a decision toward, or away from, better health. Having a sense of self awareness is key to experiencing lasting change in your life. Our lives reflect our choices.
After stewing on his words for a few days, I began to realize what he had said was actually relevant in my life. I was so busy that I couldn't make it to the gym for a workout or fitness class, but I had no problem scheduling a lunch meeting to discuss going to the gym. I could find time to catch up on my favorite TV Show or read through an entire book over the weekend, but I couldn't spare 45 minutes the same weekend to go for a run at the park?
It really made me rethink what it was I actually wanted. Did I want to binge watch every Twilight movie or did I want to walk through the mall without getting sweaty armpits because I was so out of shape just walking around felt like a workout?
Non-sweaty armpits totally won. I was finally tired of being sick and tired. I wanted more.
Deciding I wanted more and recognizing that my choices were the determining factor that drove me closer, or farther away from that desire, really helped put things into perspective. I didn't have to be a "victim" of mindless choices and a so-called busy schedule. I was in control of what my body did because I was in control of my actions. I had to change the way I viewed things in order to change the way I did things.
Being DRIVEN is more than a smaller waistline, it's recognizing that we can do anything we want in life if we truly apply ourselves. Mastering self control requires having a vision for your future self and then harnessing the will to realize that vision. Understand that there will be "parts" of us that will always want to hold us back, it's our human nature to want to take the easy road. The saying, "Go the extra mile," isn't popular because people like walking more. It's because the real reward is in the extra mile, the extra effort.
We have to let go of the past and start something new. Old habits, past failures, our own limiting beliefs have to go out the window as we retrain ourselves to see a better future. We tend to focus more on what we did before and why it won't work now instead of learning from what we did before and trying new, unfamiliar things.
Having a clear vision helps inspire us to focus on what really matters, the overall picture. Reminding myself of the positive outcome I'm working toward instead of remembering all the failed attempts before, helps to mentally drive me toward consistently healthier decisions. Thinking about all the times I fell off the wagon and how miserable I am now doesn't make me want to do better. It just makes me want to eat more.
It's easier to manage impulse control when we focus on the value of the end result, as opposed to prior setbacks and failures. It's about progress, not performance.
Another area of that requires some extra drive is in the way we talk to ourselves.
- "I can do this."
- "I am strong enough."
- "I am doing a great job."
- "I may have struggled with this in the past, but if I keep at it long enough it won't be a struggle in the future."
We talk to ourselves more than we talk to anyone, or anything else, and sometimes our attitudes don't exactly line up with our DRIVEN standards. It's so important to recognize and take control of old thought patterns as they arise. Encourage yourself the way you'd encourage a friend. You don't motivate someone else by reminding them how they failed the last time they tried to excel at something. You tell them how great of a job they're doing, or to keep at it and give it their best. Even if you don't believe it, you tell them anyway. Cause that's what friends do! That's HOW you encourage someone. So, even if you don't believe right now that you CAN, encourage yourself anyway because eventually, with consistency and determination, you will.
So, to wrap it up. What is the key to being DRIVEN?
1. Decide what you want and WHY you want it. Give yourself a view of the bigger picture so you have something to work toward.
2. Take responsibility for the situation you're in now and acknowledge that you can change it. You either want that summer body or you want that double cheeseburger and fries. Every action is your choice and your body will reflect those choices.
3. Use failure and setbacks as learning experiences, not stop signs. Unless you're briefly learning from a mistake, it's healthy to exclude your past from your thinking. We can't go forward if we're always looking backward. Use the experience as a lesson and do your best not to repeat it.
4. Change your self-talk. The conversations we have within ourselves, and the stories of the future we envision for ourselves directly affects our drive and performance. Stop being your biggest critic and start being your biggest fan and support system.
5. Give yourself a clean slate every single day. We are all human and we will all fall short, but life doesn't stop because we slip up on our habits. Get up, slap yourself on the butt, and start again.