Thursday, January 11, 2007

Whadya Want?

Part of a series on the mental and emotional adjustments required for long-term change

"People don't buy what they need, they buy what they want," so goes the age-old idiom used by sales trainers.

Some explanation is in order:

  1. "Buy" is not merely an exchange of currency for a product; "buy" can also be "make a decision" as in "buy into an idea." From such "mental purchases," actions result.
  2. We are not irrational; although "buying" begins emotionally, we back it with logic before finalizing the deal.
In other words, I might really, really, really want a bright red sporty convertible (can you say "mid life crisis?") but I then analyze my finances, examine my needs, and decide not to buy. However, if I don't "want" it first, I will not even weigh the options, so no purchase is possible.

Again: We buy what we want more than what we need; we back it with logic.

More germane to resolutions and habit change, I NEEDED to lose weight for years, yet it wasn't until my 39th birthday when I found myself eating leftover frosting from the pink cake box I had placed in the garbage, that I decided to actually do something.

Moreover, it was not that I even wanted to lose weight; in that moment all I wanted was to stop despising myself. I wanted control. I wanted to feel better. At that instant, I would do virtually anything to make the pain stop. Born from that strong emotional state, I only then analyzed my options and alternatives - and moved forward.

Change is generated by fear, force, or pain - not happiness. If life were idyllic with butterflies, flowers, and sunshine greeting each morning, why would anyone want to change? However, from the fire of ache, desires arise; the paradox being that once that hurt starts to recede (or the reality of the effort sets in) I no longer WANT to do the work as it appears laborious, tedious, and non-productive. I revert to familiar easier habits, figuring "there's always tomorrow." Therein lies the seed of every broken resolution.

To break that cycle, one must focus on what is GAINED from the effort, not what is sacrificed. Weight loss is NOT about abandoning favorite foods; it's about feeling in control. It is NOT about grunting and panting through an exercise program, it's about enjoying freedom of movement. Each is true, one we WANT - and move toward it; the other we don't - we steer away.

To make change permanent, it is imperative that we focus on its benefits. It's still a long road but a more productive, positive, and exciting path.

No comments: