We all want things.
“I want to lose 10 pounds.”
“I want to find my perfect mate.”
“I want to be happier.”
I hear phrases like these all the time inside and outside my office. I, too, have many things I say I want. This has me thinking: If you want something, why aren’t you taking steps to get to that thing?
Often, people want something but aren’t willing to experience the pain involved to get it.
Wanting is to have a desire to possess or do (something); to wish for something. Willing is being ready, eager, or prepared to do something. Sometimes I find myself willing, albeit reluctantly, to do something because I WANT the result. Sometimes I want the result without being willing to do what is needed to get there.
For example: “I want to lose 10 pounds.” Well, losing 10 pounds is pretty simple. 10 pounds is equal to 35,000 calories. Cut the number of calories you take in per day, or burn them through exercise over a period of time to equal 35,000 calories, and you will have lost 10 pounds. Sure, I’m probably oversimplifying. But the bottom line is that many people want to lose 10 pounds but are unwilling to change anything about their lifestyle.
“I want to find my perfect mate.” Of course – we all want this. Are you willing to do what it takes to get it? You’ll have to meet many people, have some awkward coffee dates, log some time on online dating apps, join some clubs, or go to Meetups. Many people want that mate but aren’t willing to go through some potentially awkward situations to make that happen. No one will meet the love of their life sitting at home watching Netflix. However, if you looked at it as an adventure and growth opportunity, you’d be more likely to meet a special someone organically.
“I want to be happier.” Yep, that sounds like a great thing to want. Yet many people aren’t willing to take even the most minor steps to make that happen. This is one of those things that isn’t going to magically happen: we have to work at it. When I am working with therapy clients, we start at the foundation. I call it the four-legged mental health stool: Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise, and Spirituality. If you’re not caring for each of these legs, your stool will be slanted, and any attempts at improving your life for the long run will be sabotaged. You have to be willing to take care of these areas to have a balanced starting point for developing a happier life. Yet, many people will skimp on sleep, not eat properly, skip the workout, squeeze in a quick prayer and then wonder why they feel worn out, unfulfilled and unhappy. You’ve got to care for your temple first!
As always, I have an exercise for you. Think of one thing you want and write it down. Then, write down 5 things you would have to do to get started in the direction of getting the want. Be creative, don’t edit yourself; write it down. Now, circle one to three things you’re willing to do to take a step towards that want. Even if the willing ideas aren’t super exciting, start talking to yourself about their benefits. How taking action will help you grow and contribute to the life you want. This will help you move from unwilling to willing.
Write one item on your calendar and make a date with yourself to do that item. Sometimes the most challenging part is just getting started. Take one step towards willingness and then another; eventually, you’ll get to that want. And when you do get there, make sure you celebrate your success!