By John Wood
In our blog 'How Does Your Life Satifaction Score Look?' we explored change, and the need to do it if we want our lives to improve. In the end we concluded that almost nobody would. Why would we say that? Because the article I wrote wasn’t written well enough to inspire? Because the message that the article contained didn’t mean enough to people no matter how well it was conveyed?
Both of those things may have played a role, but the key reason is that adult people don’t tend to change much. Everybody develops their habits, their ways of being in the world, their self-image of who they are over many years. To make a significant change to any of that is generally difficult and may require a significant life event as a catalyst.
This was conveyed to me very clearly when I was still a teenager. I had taken a job as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman in between stints at university. The best thing that happened during my 4 or 5 months doing the job was having the opportunity to attend, along with hundreds of others, a talk given by an American sales guru. I want to say that his name was Zig Ziglar, but the truth is, it's a very long time ago and my memory is not that good. Anyway, his name is less important than his message. He remains to this day the most motivational speaker that I have ever heard. He told us why we could do whatever we really wanted to. We could achieve whatever we really wanted to achieve. We could become whatever we wanted to, providing we were prepared to put in the work required to make it happen. Getting towards the end of the speech I could not wait for it to finish so that I could get started on my wonderful new life.
He finished his speech though in much the same way as I finished the last blog.
He said that he understood that of the perhaps 1,000 people in the audience only about 3 might use his words as a catalyst to make real change in their lives.
He explained that a significant portion of any audience will have significant issues going on in their lives and won’t really be listening to most of what was said.
Another significant portion will get distracted at some point of the talk and miss vital information that would provide the impetus for them to change.
Some people won’t believe that what you say is true because it is not in alignment with what they believe.
Some people do believe it would work for others but don’t believe they could do it themselves.
Some people for whatever reason aren’t at the right stage in life to make the change.
Some people will try to change but don’t have the right support around them to sustain the effort required to change.
There were a myriad of reasons why people would not change. He left us with the question, “Will you commit to yourself right here, right now to be one of the 3 that do.” I made that commitment. I could not see how anybody could not. I was captivated by the prospect of my new and improved life and could not wait to get into it……… Until I got home.
As his words stopped dancing around my head, my motivation waned and I continued on with life exactly as it was other than for the guilt that I carried because I had the knowledge required to be more successful and I was opting not to use it. Years later I believe it was a combination of not being convinced that I deserved the almost Utopian existence that he said I could achieve and not believing that I had the discipline, the perseverance to stay with it long enough to make it happen.
Anyway, that’s my excuse. What’s yours?
If you are not being the best possible version of yourself most of the time, why aren’t you? Next time we will look at the psychology of what is required to be our best selves.
John Wood is a teacher of psychology and mathematics, a parent educator and personal trainer...and co-owner of Ananda Goods and Ananda Education. He is passionate about - and studies - Positive Psychology and interpersonal relationships and the way they can change every aspect of life.