As someone who struggled greatly to mold myself into the person I wanted to become, I’ve had a life-long fascination with high-achievers and people who seem to effortlessly succeed. My fascination led me to study people I admire in an attempt to raise the bar in my own life. I do believe that we’re here to constantly learn, improve, and teach what we know to others. In this sense, we’re never done—we can never stop learning or striving to improve, as the point of being here is to do something with our lives that contributes to the world in a positive way.
As part of my study of people who achieve and attain the highest level success, I also had to focus my attention on those who don’t. In this category of people, I identified two distinct groups: those who try and fail and eventually give up, and those who never try in the first place. People in the latter group confound me, yet fascinate me, the most. What would make anyone choose to sit on the sidelines of life while the rest of us are out on the field playing the game?
I’ve had conversations with private clients recently that made me want to address this in greater detail.
One client in particular talks a good game, but when it comes to taking action, nothing happens. I totally understand, as I used to live this way. I understood my problem intellectually and even knew exactly what I needed to do to correct it—but I kept it all in my head and never took action.
Anyone who’s ever experienced this understands how frustrating it is because we, ourselves, can’t figure out why we continue to behave in ways that are contrary to getting the result we desire. People in our lives, too, are frustrated and confused as to why a person with an intellectual understanding of a problem would act in ways that compound the problem rather than solve it.
This led me to discuss with my client the four basic stages of readiness. If you’re struggling with a chronic issue in your life, you will find yourself in one of these four stages.
Stage One is when we’re compelled by authority to change: a family intervention leads you to being put in rehab; your doctor tells you that if you don’t lose 100 pounds you’ll get diabetes and forces you to follow a strict diet, etc.
Stage Two is when we’re compelled to escape criticism: your husband is nagging you to lose weight so you diet and exercise to make him happy; you’re a kid at school being teased for being fat so you try to lose weight to avoid being bullied, etc.
Stage Three is when we, ourselves, are intellectually aware of a need for change: you see that you’re dangerously overweight and know that you need to take control of the problem; you binge eat every night when you get home from work and you know that you absolutely must do something to stop, etc.
Stage Four is when we are mentally and emotionally self-motivated to change our lives: this is when you are sick-to-death of living like you’ve been and decide you’re simply not going to spend one more day of your life stuck in an endless cycle, going nowhere.
Over the nearly thirty years that I’ve worked in the fitness business, I have encountered clients in all four stages of readiness, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that those who succeed are in Stage Four.
This is why shows like, The Biggest Loser, often have winners who regain the weight they lost within a few years of being on the show. If you took anybody, put him on a ranch with an angry Jillian Michaels and monitored his every move for a set period of time, he would likely lose weight. When away from strict supervision and left to his own devices, this same person may revert to old habits, and regain the lost weight.
If you want to change your life, identify your stage of readiness. If you’re not genuinely motivated to change and are not mentally and emotionally invested in doing whatever you have to do to succeed, understand that you have a frustrating road ahead.
The caveat is no one else can make you ready—there’s no one you can hire and there’s no one you can blame if you’re not ready. This one’s on you.
If you are someone who is content to never try to improve your life, ask yourself this question: “What do I fear?”
Do you fear the embarrassment of failure? Do you fear the responsibility and pressure of success? Do you fear that there’s too much hard work involved in succeeding?
Often, answering this one question will help you gauge why you may be stuck and help you understand why you sabotage your own efforts.
I’ll end on this thought: the one characteristic that I found consistently in my study of highly successful people is fearlessness. They plowed through fear of failure, fear of success, fear of hard work, fear of criticism by others, and worked with a single-minded focus until they achieved what they wanted. When they failed, they got right back up and kept trying.
There’s no such thing as “effortless” success. High achievers bust their butts on a daily basis, work hard for everything they have, and don’t give in to their fears.
Success requires a determination that no one can give you and you can’t pay someone to make you develop it; it’s a hunger that comes from within.
Shine on, Tara Marie