How is your current [undesirable] situation serving you?
This may seem like an odd question, but your current situation, no matter how much you think it is undesirable, will have some benefits, otherwise you would have already made the change you think you want to make.
Let me show you what I mean:
You hate your job?
Getting a different job means you could experience more job satisfaction; you could make more money; you may take a new career direction; you are happy on a Sunday because going to work on a Monday excites you!
But staying as you are means you have enough money to pay your bills; you don’t have to spend time and effort searching for a new job; you avoid any disappointment of not getting an interview; you get sympathy when you complain about your terrible boss.
You want to be more confident?
Having more confidence would mean you feel comfortable giving your opinions, participating in conversations and speaking up in meetings; you would know who you are, what your values are and live your life aligned to these; you would take opportunities knowing you have the inner resources and resilience to be successful.
But staying as you are means you are within your comfort zone; you can feel resentful and hard-done-by; you don’t have to risk being seen and heard; you are safe and protected.
You want to be in a loving relationship?
You are fed up of being single and want to share the adventures of your life journey; you want company in the evenings and someone to go on holiday with.
But staying as you are means you have your freedom to do what you want, when you want to, with no compromise; you don’t have to be vulnerable and open your heart to strangers and risk getting hurt; you get to choose the TV channel, what to eat and you get the whole bed to yourself every night.
You want to be healthier?
Being fitter would mean you felt more comfortable in your clothes, your blood pressure decreases, and your skin looks clearer; you would have more energy as you eat healthy, high energy food and drink plenty of water; you feel calmer and happier; you could run for the bus without looking like a sweaty tomato.
But staying as you are means you don’t have to get up early to exercise; you can eat a packet of biscuits whilst watching TV in the evening; you can order a take-away when you don’t want to cook a couple of times a week; you don’t have to risk failure of not achieving a fitness goal; you can gossip to colleagues during your cigarette break; you have an existing wardrobe of clothes that fit you fine and you don’t want to be wasteful.
None of the above is bad. It is just trying to illustrate that the reason you sometimes can’t make the change you think you want to make is because your current situation does have benefits, and until the benefits of the change are significantly more than the benefits of your current situation, you are likely to remain unmotivated to change. Becoming aware of how your current situation is serving you means you regain the power by being able to control your motivations.
Pleasure Versus Pain
Tony Robbins says we are motivated either towards pleasure or away from pain. Moving away from pain tends to be short term (as we are trying to reduce the pain the quickest way possible and have some form of immediate gratification) compared to moving towards pleasure which is for the longer term (delayed gratification). This is why, until your current situation is so painful to you, you may find it difficult to make the changes you think you want to make; the pleasure you are moving towards (your end goal) feels too far away and the pain isn’t enough for you to want to move away from it.
To get real traction with your changes, you can identify and concentrate on the pain with your existing situation, and find ways to receive immediate pleasure in taking action. You need to make doing nothing more painful to you than taking the actions to achieve your pleasurable outcome.
Questions to identify and focus on the pain of your existing situation:
What is not changing costing you?
What has not changing already cost you?
What will not changing continue to cost you?
How will your life remain the same by doing nothing?
Questions to identify and focus on the pleasure of achieving your end state goal:
If you change this now, how will your life be?
What will you gain?
What will it give you?
What is the one action you can take today towards making this happen?
For example, if you want to be more confident, focus in on what lacking confidence is currently costing you. Focus on the pain you feel at being unseen and unheard at the moment and all the great ideas you have not been able to share. Remember those feelings when you haven’t been able to speak up and you know you missed an opportunity due to your lack of confidence to go for something. Really feel the dissatisfaction of playing small and being overlooked and that these feelings could continue for the whole of your working life if you don’t make a change.
Now visualise how you will look, sound, feel and act with more confidence, and how others react to, and interact with, you. Imagine the opportunities that will come your way when you are confident, the projects you will be invited to work on, the meetings you will contribute to, the promotions you will be able to go for. Think about how amazing it will feel to achieve these things, to succeed in all these new and exciting ways. Hear the compliments that people will have about your ideas. Sit taller, hold your chin higher, breathe deeply. Decide you will discuss a new idea you have in your weekly meeting with your manager later today.
In the above example, you have intensified the pain so much that you need to make a change to get away from this situation - it is now truly undesirable to you. You have also made the pleasurable alternative (your goal) real, tangible and have identified an action you can take today to start moving you towards this (immediate gratification). You have controlled your thinking so your current situation is no longer serving you at all, which creates immense motivation to achieve your desired outcome.