“I need to get in shape first. You know… before I start… I need to clean up my act, stop drinking, eat better, start doing some basic exercise… and THEN, THEN I’ll be ready.”
So let me get this straight…
What you’re saying is that you’re going to start doing something that you haven’t been successful doing in YEARS, something that has resulted in your decline in health, mobility, strength, and general aliveness slowly and consistently over the past THREE DECADES. You’re going to “succeed” at this first… and THEN… THEN you’ll be ready to begin?
I heard this over and over again as a gym owner.
But it’s not limited to a conversation about health and fitness.
Consider ANY area of your life where you are lacking ALIVENESS. Career. Relationship. Family. Friends. Job. Where things aren’t the way you want them to be or the way you KNOW inside that they COULD be.
There is a part inside of you that THINKS, “It’s too late for me, I should have done this years ago. Why bother? I shouldn’t even begin. I don’t know where to begin. It’s not like my life is THAT bad. This is just my karma. I’m destined to fail. It’s no use. If I want to do that, I need to prove it to myself first.”
Or… “I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS. It’s not like it’s that hard. I know the steps. Other people have done it. My friends… THEY don’t have a problem with it. I know what it takes. I can watch instructional videos on youtube. I can read books. Yeah… I got this.”
In either case, you’re telling yourself a made-up story… perhaps it goes something like, “If I really wanted this I would have done it years ago. Big boys/girls don’t ask for (or need) help. I am weak if I ask for help. Asking for help feels like I’m admitting defeat. If I need help in this area, there is REALLY something wrong with me. I’m _[fill in the blank]___ (stupid, dumb, wrong, undisciplined, etc) if I let on that I need help. I shouldn’t have to PAY for something I know I CAN do.” And this story creates a feeling of both guilt (I should have done this already), and shame (there is something wrong with me because…)
These beliefs and the story you’re telling yourself about it are all made up by the part of you that wants to minimize uncertainty and maximize safety and security. It does this in an effort to keep you from trying and failing, from “wasting” your money on something you should be able to handle on your own, to not take too big a risk or venture too far out on the “skinny branches”. They keep you in your comfort zone in order to protect you, keep you from embarrassment, failure, or perhaps even worse… bankruptcy, or death.
But the COST?
Giving in to these voices and choosing certainty over risk, it pays off in the short term. However, it’s also the fuel for the regret you’ll feel later on in life. It robs you of your aliveness and joy. It keeps you from ever getting what you REALLY want. It stops you from stepping into the fullness of YOU. It undermines your trust in yourself. It stops you from getting into the real arena, from daring greatly, from going for it when you’re unsure of the outcome.
Life is inherently uncertain. COVID taught us that… were you paying attention?
Want to have the life of your dreams?
Start by embracing uncertainty as a normal part of life. Drop the resistance to telling yourself the truth about where you are. To own up to your own shortcomings, not with shame or guilt, but with acceptance, compassion, and grace. Take off your mask with bravery and courage – in the face of fear. Reveal your insecurities and vulnerabilities… first to yourself, and gradually to others.
And if you find yourself not making the progress you want to on your own, perhaps it’s time to face the music, admit to yourself that you could use a helping hand, stop “getting ready”, and find yourself a program, group, community, or coach that will help you create for yourself the life that you’ve always wanted, the one you’ve always dreamed of.