It’s time for some real talk. Do you find yourself having a hard time getting started on something that you really want to do? Maybe it’s losing weight. Maybe it’s cleaning out your closet. Maybe it’s a project that you’ve been wanting to complete but you just keep putting it on the backburner.
What I want you to know is that this is very normal. It comes down to physics. But in this episode, I want to give you some tools that will help you get started even when you don’t want to.
I like to think about the rocket ship. It takes 85% of its fuel to get it off the ground during takeoff. And that’s what it’s like to get started. But once you get started, you’ve got that momentum behind you and it’s hard to stop.
And again, this all comes down to physics. Where Newton said, “An item at rest tends to stay at rest. And an item in motion tends to stay in motion.” Are you ready to get into motion? Let’s dive into today’s episode.
Welcome to the School of Self-Image, where personal development meets style. Here’s your hostess, master life coach Tonya Leigh.
What’s happening, my beautiful friends? How’s your day going? I just got back from the gym and I didn’t want to go. Which is perfect for today’s episode where I want to talk about getting started when you don’t want to.
I hear so many of my members of the School of Self-Image talk about how they have all of these dreams and these goals and these desires and yet they find themselves procrastinating. Some of my members want to lose weight. And yet, they find themselves sitting on the sofa at night watching Netflix eating chips.
Some of my members want to save money. They want to build their net worth and yet they find themselves online shopping at night. Some of my members, they want to grow their business and yet they find themselves wasting time scrolling through social media.
And this all comes down to physics. So, if you’re experiencing this, first of all, give yourself some grace because it does not help for you to beat ourself up for fighting against physics, which is basically what’s happening.
So, Newton’s first law of motion says that “If a body is at rest or moving at a constant speed in a straight line, it will remain at rest, or keep moving in a straight line at a constant speed unless it is acted upon by force.”
So, what this means is if you’ve developed an unhealthy habit, you’re moving in that direction. You’ve got momentum going. It happens almost unwillingly. It just seems like your body just takes over and before you know it, you’re sitting in front of this TV eating chips.
Equally, to start a new habit is harder because if you’ve been moving in one direction, you’re asking yourself to quickly and abruptly move in another direction. But what I want to talk about is when it talks about acted upon by force. That is the only way to stop the momentum and move it in the direction you want it to go.
So, the best way for me to describe this is to share with you something that I’ve been working on this year. So, if you listen to last week’s podcast, it was all about elevating your energy, which is our soul focus within the School of Self-Image membership this month.
But for me, it’s been about emotional energy, mental energy, and physical energy. So, I went to a doctor back in August or September and basically, they told me that I needed to put on muscle, and I needed to exercise more.
Now, granted, I physically haven’t felt awful. But I know I’m not at my optimal state of physical wellbeing. I know that. And fortunately, I wasn’t completely sedentary, completely inactive. I love to hike in the summers. I enjoy walking. I do 10 pushups every day. I’ve been doing that for a long time.
I wasn’t completely sedentary. But when I thought about what I needed to do to get into optimal physical health, I had so much resistance. I was like, “I don’t want to go to the gym and lift weights. I don’t want to eat more protein.” Like, I had a little temper tantrum. And it makes sense because I’ve been living in such a way for so long, that’s been the momentum in which I’ve been moving.
But if I want to move in a different direction, I have to have a force that’s going to force me to do that. And so, how do we get started when we don’t want to? Here’s what I did. And it’s what I’m going to recommend for you.
You know, there are external forces that sometimes come into our lives and it makes it almost impossible not to move in a different direction. For example, divorce. Maybe losing a job. Maybe you’ve always wanted to change your career but you’ve been so afraid that you haven’t done it. And then, one day your boss comes in and says you’re fired. You’re forced to go out there and create or find your dream career.
But when we don’t have those external forces, we have to depend on internal force, which I think is so much more powerful because that is something you can generate to help you reach your dreams and your goals. And so, how do we create that internal force that’s going to force us to move in a different direction?
The first step is to dig deep into a compelling why; a why that’s going to excite you, a why that gets you out of bed, a why that when you want to put something off, when you remember your why, you show up anyway. And this is where a lot of us, we don’t generate the power that we need because we don’t have a compelling why. We don’t have a why that means a lot to us.
Our whys may be very superficial. For example, if your goal is to lose weight and your why is because your mother has been giving you a hard time about it, is that a good enough why? You’ve got to go deeper.
So, for me, when I thought about my fitness goals for this year and I asked myself why it was important, my original why was I just want to feel better. I’m tired of having lower back pain. I’m tired of feeling achy and stiff.
But honestly, that why did not inspire me at all. Even though it should I was like, “Okay, it’d be nice.” But when I kept digging deeper, do you know what I came up with? My why is that I want to be a woman who is an example of what it looks like to age powerfully. I want to get better and better with age. I don’t want to buy into this belief that when we hit a certain age, then we start to decline.
I want to be an example to other women of, “Hey, this doesn’t have to be our story.” And even as I’m talking about it right now, I’m getting so excited. I can feel the energy moving I can feel the internal force that is going to compel me to do the things that I need to do even when I don’t want to.
So, that’s the first thing you must do is determine what is your why behind your goal, what it is that you’re going after. The second approach is to look at the pain-pleasure principle. So, humans are wired to pursue pleasure and to avoid pain. The problem occurs though when we’ve linked pleasure with things that are hurting us and pain with things that will help us.
So, if I don’t manage my mind correctly, I will tie so much pain to working out and so much pleasure with just sitting around and doing my little walk every day and then coming back and sitting in front of my computer to work.
But here’s the really cool thing, you guys, is that you can begin to tie pleasure with the thing that you’re resisting. And you can begin to tie pain with the thing that you’re doing. So, how do we do that?
Well, I ask myself, “Tonya, what’s going to happen if you neglect your fitness? Think about a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, if you don’t take care of this part of your life, what is going to be the outcome?” And when I thought about it, I literally envisioned this little lady just sort of slumped over and on the verge of breaking a hip.
Really, I was like, that’s where my brain went. And I was like, “I don’t want that.” I want to be walking with vitality in 10 years. I want to feel amazing. I want to be stronger than I’ve ever been. And so, when I started to think about what would happen if I didn’t pursue this goal, there was so much pain tied with me not showing up for it.
Equally, when I started to think about and envision myself a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now having made fitness one of my top priorities and I could envision that version of me, then I began to link pleasure with getting to the gym, eating well, doing all of the self-care things that I need to do to guarantee that result.
And so, whatever it is that you are resisting, I want you to look at why. Why are you resisting it? And I can promise you, you have pain tied to the thing that you need to be doing and pleasure tied to what you are currently doing. And all that means is that you need to create some new associations in your brain.
I remember, when I was going through my weight-loss journey, I would tie so much pleasure to overeating and so much pain to stopping eating. So, it was no wonder when the moment occurred and there was food in front of me, I would overeat because I had linked pleasure with food and stopping when I was elegantly satisfied with pain.
But I started to create a new association. And I did it with the exact same process I just shared. I really thought about what is going to be the result of this if you continue down this path of overeating? And I could see myself gaining more and more weight, feeling heavier, feeling sadder.
And that was painful to think about. And then equally, I started to think about the version of me who stops eating when she’s elegantly satisfied. She chooses high quality foods. She’s full of energy. And that started to become such a pleasurable vision that in the moment when there was food in front of me, even though I experienced discomfort – because any time you change a habit, there is going to be discomfort – I was willing to feel it because of the pleasure of my future self-vision. And also, by really recognizing the pain of my future self if I didn’t continue to practice eating in an elegant way.
And so, what is the thing that you’re resisting? And look at why. Maybe you’ve been wanting to publish a book but you have linked sitting down to write with pain. Maybe the pain is it not being good enough. Maybe the pain is potential rejection. Maybe the pain is criticism, Maybe the pain is just the discomfort of having writer’s block.
And then you’ve linked pleasure to procrastination. Maybe that’s when you get to do more research, even though you have all the research you need. Maybe you get to sit in front of the TV and watch Netflix, watch your favorite show. So, there’s pleasure with procrastination and pain tied to what it is that you want to do, what you deeply want to do.
You have to create new associations. Envision yourself a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now not having written this book, the disappointment that you’re going to feel, the potential opportunities that you won’t have.
And just allow yourself to go down that list and then look at all the pleasurable things that will result from you writing this book, how you get to feel about yourself, what you’re going to learn in the process, potentially publishing a bestseller and all of the opportunities that may come from that.
Envision you onstage speaking to people, whatever you need to do to link pleasure with what it is that you deeply desire to do. That is a way to get that internal force that’s going to push you to change directions.
The next thing that I do whenever I’m changing a habit or going after a big goal is I actually expect it to be hard. Now, some may argue that that’s not a good thought to have. But it serves me. And let me tell you why.
So many of us, when things get hard, we use that as an excuse to give up. And sometimes, we think something must be wrong. If it’s not easy, if it’s not flowing, then we’re out of alignment and we just need to give up or we need to stop.
For me, I expect it to be hard, and here’s why. It’s requiring that I let parts of myself die. The part of me that wants to procrastinate, the part of me that wants to lounge around, the part of me that’s doing the thing that doesn’t serve me. I literally have to let that part of me die in order to let the new version of me emerge. Because if not, they’re always going to be in conflict and battle with each other.
And so, by me expecting it to be hard, when it gets hard, I know nothing’s gone wrong here. This is just part of the death and rebirth process. And along with that, it allows me to plan for the hardness.
I like to go into the future and imagine me doing the things that are hard and expecting the usually mental obstacles that I’m going to encounter, the part of me that says, “You can do it tomorrow,” or “This workout’s not going to make that big of a difference. Who do you think you are? You’re getting older. You’re going to have aches and pains.”
Like, all of that mental chatter that’s in my brain, I can plan for it so that when it pops up, and trust me it will, I have a plan. And usually, it’s a rebuttal of like, “Listen, little Tonya, little baby Tonya that’s having a temper tantrum. This is not what we’re doing here. You’re getting better and better with age. You’re getting stronger. You’re a woman that shows up for yourself. You’re a woman that respects herself enough to show up for her promises to herself.”
And when I can plan for the hardness and plan for the obstacles and know how I’m going to deal with it when it comes up, when it happens, I’m not caught off-guard. I’m like, “Yep, I was expecting you. And here’s how we’re going to deal with this.” And so, that’s why me expecting it to be hard actually increases the ease at which I can go after my goals. Because I end up not fighting with myself.
And then the final step is to decide. Decision is the force that wills top you from moving in the direction you don’t want to be going, and to move in the direction that you want to go.
Now, of course, decision has to be followed up with follow-through. And I’m going to talk about that in next week’s podcast. But right now, what I want you all to ask yourself is, “What do I deeply want? What would I love to see myself achieve over the next year? What would take my life to the next level if I were to achieve it? What am I here to create, experience, do?”
These are the kinds of questions that will help you get clear on what it is that you want. And then, once you decide what it is that you want, figure out why you want it and find a why that is so compelling you will not be able to give up on your dream and sleep well at night.
Then, tie pleasure with what it is it’s going to take to reach that goal and pain with you not reaching it. And finally, expect it to be hard and plan for those obstacles ahead of time. And then finally, decide. Decide you’re going to go all in on yourself. Decide that no is not an option. Decide that you are worthy enough to achieve this. Decide that you have what it takes to achieve it. And then tune in for next week’s episode where I’m going to talk about keeping it up, the follow-through, how to stay committed.
Thank you all so much for tuning in this week and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Cheers.
Hey, have you grabbed your free copy of the School of Self-Image Manifesto? If not, what in the world? Head over to schoolofselfimage.com/manifesto and get a copy that teaches you how to think and show up in the areas of mindset, style, and surroundings so that you can transform your self-image.