The Miserability Factor

I’ve been working with a client who, despite the fact that he knows what his issues are and he knows what’s  preventing him from making positive changes, he’s not doing anything about it. We’ve even talked about it. He’ll say, “Red, I know what it is,” yet, time and time again, no progress is made. Why? Because he’s not miserable enough yet.

The cold, hard truth is that, generally speaking, people don’t engage in change until they reach a certain level of discomfort. It isn’t until they say, “I can’t live like this anymore,” until they’re choking and almost out of breath, that they’re able to move around and through their obstacles and create a different path in life.

To just identify what is preventing you from getting wherever it is you want to go isn’t enough. That’s like saying, “I know that my car’s transmission is breaking down which is why it isn’t running right.” If you don’t follow that up with taking it to the shop or finding someone to fix it for you, just knowing that you have a problem with your transmission isn’t going to help. Pretty soon, you’ll be stranded on the side of the road in the middle of a rain storm with your kids fighting inside, which is when you’ll finally be miserable enough to actually have it fixed.

Take a look at one area of your life that you would like to change, but haven’t managed to make it happen (yet). Now ask yourself: What would need to occur to make you uncomfortable enough to take more positive actions? In other words, what point do you have to reach before you decide that the change is worth the effort?

There is no right or wrong answer here; it’s just a matter of determining your own personal thresholds. While I may have to be 100 pounds overweight, having difficulty walking up a flight of stairs or trouble fitting into a normal-sized seat before I decide to lose weight, having 10 excess pounds may be the threshold for you.

The goal is simply to realize what it would take for you to actually make the changes you seek. And once you do that, the next step is to get in touch with all of the reasons your current situation makes you miserable to the point where it’s easier to make those changes than to live the life you’re currently living.

For example, it’s not enough to say, “I know that my business isn’t growing because I’m not reaching out to enough potential clients.” In order to make the pain of this reality more pressing, you may need to actually list out the ways this action (or inaction in this instance) is actually hurting you.

Is it keeping you from paying your bills, putting your entire business at risk? Maybe it’s preventing you from taking that dream vacation you’ve always wanted to take with your spouse and children? Or perhaps it’s stopping you from being able to start that charity you’ve always had your heart set on creating.

The faster you can get in touch with all of the things you’re losing by staying where you are, the faster you’ll start working towards changing your behaviors so you can have whatever it is you want in your life.

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