Changing sky.

Changing sky.

Is there something in your life that you would like to change?

My best guess to that question is yes.

Everyone I’ve ever met or worked with would like to change something. Even if you are happy, there is probably something that you would improve given the chance. Perhaps it’s a healthier lifestyle, a more romantic love life, more free time to do things you love, deeper connections with friends and family, a healthier bank balance, renewed energy, more fulfilling work or freedom to travel to name but a few.

Yet despite this desire, I’m going to go all out here and suggest that despite your best intentions, more often than not, you struggle to take the necessary steps to transform your life for the better.

Have you ever decided that you want to make a change in your life and then after a few days or weeks of effort, given up only to go back to how things were before? You and me both.

Have you ever set about making a change and with, what feels like little effort, succeeded in not only making the transformation but then sustaining it so that now it’s just a normal part of your day-to-day life? You and me both.

So why is that sometimes we can make changes and at other times we can’t? Even when sometimes the things that did change seem bigger and harder to crack than the ones we struggle with on first appearance.

Well my friend the answer, as is always the case, is within you and the answer is commitment.

You might feel some resistance when reading that. The word commitment usually makes most people bristle, especially if it feels like their commitment is in question. Despite this, I’m here to tell you that whenever you find yourself wanting to change but not being able to do so, it’s very much that your commitment is in question, but let me go  a little deeper.

To illustrate my point I’m going to use an example, it may not directly relate but stay with it.

You want to lose weight. You badly want to lose weight because the extra 20 lbs you are carrying leave you feeling unattractive, low on energy and miserable. You’d love to find yourself a partner and believe that with this extra weight nobody is going to find you attractive. Yet when push comes to shove and it’s the time to choose between a healthy food choice and a sugary treat, you find it impossible to resist. Despite the fact that losing weight is something you desire deeply, it feels like an almost impossible goal to achieve.

Why? You are committed to losing weight, of that there is no doubt, so why is it not happening? Why does it feel so hard?

The simple answer is not what you’d expect. I’m not here to tell you that you are not committed enough. Rather than a lack of commitment, it is in fact that you are over-committed. Allow me to explain. Rather than one commitment to losing weight, you have another, perhaps multiple, competing commitments.

So what do I mean by this? A competing commitment is something else in your life that you are committed to just as much as, or maybe even more than, you are committed to losing weight and these two commitments are in direct competition with each other. This is what keeps you feeling stuck.

Image by Flickr user habeebee under CC license.

If you’re scratching your head right about now it’s because competing commitments are often sub-conscious, they are oftentimes rooted in a belief that we’re not even fully aware that we have.

Continuing with this same example, a competing commitment might look something like this. You have a fear of getting into a relationship because every time you have in the past it has ended in heartache for you. Subconsciously you believe that by keeping the extra weight you’ll remain single and, this the crucial part, therefore, avoid heartache.

Without even realising it, there is a part of you that is committed to keeping the weight on so as to avoid getting your heart-broken. It’s not that you’re not committed enough to losing weight, it’s that you are equally committed to keeping it.

Unearthing your competing commitments, with some work and intention, is usually enough to let go of that which is getting in the way of your goal and make progress in a way that feels far easier than we could have ever before imagined. It’s the reason that some changes feel easy and others feel like we are wading through treacle.

I’ll leave you with an example from my life. When I decided to give up my stressful and unrewarding career in project management, I made a commitment to become a Life Coach. I wanted to do fulfilling work that helped others whilst also giving me the freedom to travel. In early 2012, I set myself the goal of building my coaching business within a year. This never happened. Nor did it happen in 2013. In fact it wasn’t until 2014 that my business eventually took off. So why did it take me so long? Because I had a competing commitment lurking within my sub-conscious mind that was only revealed to me when I began working with my coach.

I held a belief that if I was successful, my time would no longer be my own. I would be forced to work when I didn’t want to and would have little free time to myself. Success therefore felt heavy, like something that despite wanting on one hand, on the other hand felt like something I could live without. It wasn’t till I spotted this competing commitment to avoid success that things began to shift for me.

Are there areas in your life where you are struggling to make progress? If so, drop me a line using the form below and let’s see if together we can uncover your competing commitment.