What is it that’s stopping you from getting into shape? Or from talking to the girl you want to ask out? Or from putting the hours in to your online business so you can start working from home?
There are many potential answers to all these questions and the right answer is going to depend very much on your specific situation. Often there is some kind of underlying ‘psychic block’ that prevents us from taking action which might relate to emotions we aren’t even fully aware of.
But while the reasons may vary from case to case, there is one particularly common thing that stops us from taking action and that’s simple: it’s that we don’t believe that our plan will work.
Why You Go to Work 9-5
If someone tells you they want to start a business or to start working out and then they just sit around not doing anything to make that happen, then you might be tempting to think that they’re just lazy or that they lack sticking power.
But chances are that this isn’t really their problem. Think about it: the vast majority of people you know manage to go to work from the hours of 9am to 5pm five days a week. Often they will put in longer hours at the end of the day and usually they’ll have some kind of commute. 99% of the Western world do something they don’t want to do for the largest part of their week.
And yet they can’t commit to writing a blog post once a week or doing some press ups in the evenings… The things they actually care about. What is going on?
Why Belief Matters
The problem is belief: and not in the wishy-washy ‘you can do anything you believe you can do’ kind of way. Rather, the concrete ‘if I do this, then that will happen’ way.
When you go into work and spend eight hours slaving away at the computer you see, you know with absolute certainty that doing that is going to result in you getting paid for a day’s work, that it will contribute to your chances of getting a raise – that it will have a tangible and real benefit. You don’t mind putting in mad effort because you know you’ll get something out of it.
With exercise though, you might think that it’s unlikely you’ll really get six pack abs. With your own business, you might think that it’s unlikely you’ll really get rich from a blog. In short, you don’t really believe in your plan or what you want to do and as such you can’t motivate yourself to do and to potentially risk wasting your time. Imagine if you absolutely knew 100% that if you followed a certain plan, you would have the body of an Adonis (or supermodel) in six months. If this was 100% guaranteed then chances are that you would move hell and high water to make sure you completed your workouts every day. Likewise, imagine if you knew you could earn an extra $10,000 by writing an extra blog post once a week for a year. Think you’d do it then?
So what do you do? You find a plan that you absolutely believe in 100%. That means thinking of every angle but it also means convincing yourself that it’s worth doing the thing you’re doing. Measuring your progress and getting real feedback can help this to a great extent because it allows us to see the fruits of our labor as they occur. You might even consider using things like cognitive restructuring in order to convince yourself that what you’re doing will have some benefit.
We don’t like taking chances – so make sure the odds are in your favor and you’re not leaving it to chance. And if you can’t do that, then you’re going to have to make sure that the thing you’re doing brings other benefits that you can experience right away. If you can enjoy doing something in its own right, then this is at least one way that you can make sure you keep doing that thing – even if you have a little doubt in your mind that it will work…