Conquering the Biggest Obstacle to Change
Lying on the couch this Sunday segueing comfortably from watching the Falcons lose (badly) to watching the Braves delay the inevitable, I reflected on the difficulty of personal improvement. The challenge, of course, is not discovering what needs to be done. The equations are simple: more exercise + less food = lose weight; contact more potential customers + less web surfing = more sales. The hard part is getting off the couch.
The obstacles to change are many (e.g., fear, avoidance of physical discomfort) but one does not get much attention: our desire for freedom. Setting a changed course and sticking to it creates an uncomfortable limit on freedom of action. If my goal for Sunday was to remain on my couch watching sports for three hours, I would not be able to do it. In fact, I would think of nothing else but getting up and doing something else.
We want to maintain our freedom so much, we create stories to support it and do not examine their underlying assumptions. For example, Sunday is a day for relaxation, I should not have to work on Sunday, I’m not at my best on Sunday, no one else is working, etc.
Recognizing our desire for freedom and challenging the supporting stories is a must for successful entrepreneur types as our business hours, sales quotas and team deadlines are self-created and enforced. We need to be particularly diligent in regularly examining the stories we tell ourselves as we avoid change and their underlying assumptions.