By Stephanie Marshall, Toronto based Master Alignment Coach
A quick thought experiment to scan your current expectation mindset and then I will tell you how I caught myself out…
It’s three months from now. What is going on in your life? … Actually think about it, that wasn’t rhetorical.
Work, home, physical fitness, relationships, financial situation. For each of these, what is your immediate gut instinct? Will things be:
a) Probably basically the same,
b) Wait and see, different maybe, depends on what happens, or
c) Different, you have a specific vision and you are taking consistent action towards it
Your gut instinct is going to inform your expectation mindset. I’m going to use my reaction to this in terms of physical fitness to illustrate the point. Recently I’ve been contemplating my physical fitness and eating habits because they could be better aligned with who I want to be and how I want to live. I know that I want to eat less crap and exercise more, but I haven’t yet made a firm decision or set a specific goal (because I am not cavalier about making these decisions since I refuse to casually try and fail).
My gut reaction ion my physical fitness in November was option “b”. My expectations are that fitness might be better, I have some intentions but… none that I’m taking seriously.
Focus on What You Can Control
Some people focus on what they can’t control more than on the things that they can control. For example, if your first thought was about the variables that are in the air as a result of pandemic uncertainty, that may keep you from making decisions on what you can control.
For example, when I thought of working out I immediately thought of how I can’t (or am choosing not to) go to the Yoga studio or the gym, two things tied to the pandemic which I cannot control. I could have thought of the hundreds of ways I can workout. My expectation mindset centers on the outcome depending on circumstances that I cannot control.
Focus on What’s Possible
It’s easy to get used to things the way they are, and keeping the status quo makes our subconscious feel safe, even when we don’t even like the status quo. The thing is, how often do you actually consider what’s possible?
If I set a goal and decided that physical fitness was my number one priority for the next three months and put it above everything else, I could make some incredible progress. We’re talking sculpted muscles, endurance, a little less extra padding… If I decided to bake and eat cookies every day and stop working out entirely I could also make some pretty dramatic changes to my physical fitness in the other direction. Knowing how vast the range in possibilities in outcome is, brings awareness to how much our decisions matter.
What Happens if I _________?
If you want to change something in your life but you don’t have clarity around what it is you want and what you are willing to do to get it, it’s going to be much harder to pull off.
The thing is, I haven’t made a decision yet. Theoretically, I want to be fitter and would enjoy a little more sculpting and a little less padding, but do I want it enough that I am willing to work for it? Knowing that it will involve working out when it’s hot out and I’m not in the mood and saying no to sugar? If I decide to just “try” chances are that I will temporarily make a few changes to my exercising and eating and then revert.
What I am doing, is creating clarity around what I really do want. Creating a clear picture in my mind of what it would look like and feel like to make a change. What am I willing to give up and what do I expect to gain? I’m thinking about how this aligns with the other parts of my life, because as a coach I feel that it’s important to push myself in every area of life. If I’m helping others build their habits and self-discipline to bring their vision to life, I need to take even more responsibility for my own life.
Making a commitment and making decisions is very different from “trying”. You know what Yoda said. Back to the original question, how do you picture your life in three months?
Someone sent me a DM recently about eating sourdough every day and needing to stop that habit. I want to know what her gut instinct is when I ask her to picture her eating habits in November. Does she imagine herself as someone who struggles to not eat sourdough every day or does she imagine herself as someone who is completely past that sourdough habit and loving her new healthy habits?
As for me, I have clarity in most parts of my life for what I’m building, but I need to solidify this physical fitness piece. I’m resisting quitting Diet Coke or even dramatically cutting down, which tells me that it’s most likely the thing I need to do, But I don’t know what that looks like yet. I promise to tell you as soon as I decide.
And once you decide, it becomes a question of deciding every day to follow through or figuring out why you aren’t following through if you need to do that. Don’t get caught in the trying-to-try loop. I will know I got that part right if my gut immediately goes to the vision I created as opposed to waffling.
So, what do you expect? Have you made a decision yet? You get to choose.
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