embracingMust vs. Should

Change is a result of my need to avoid consequences. When I come to a point in my life that I can no longer live with the situation that I find myself in, I find a way to change. This is true is all parts of my life from my work and finances to my relationships. It is only when my reasons for making a shift in my life change from “I should do…” to “I must do…” It is only when that shift in my brain occurs that I actually find the resources needed to make the change and make it a lasting change. This is the real power of consequences. They are not there to make us feel bad about ourselves when we don’t achieve something, rather they are there to help force us into making the changes that we want to make.

To this end, I need to create consequences for those things in my life that I have a strong desire to change. I need to pile on the misery, so to speak, so that the processes that I need to do in order to make the changes that I want are that much more pressing and dire. This will change the things that I think I should do into ones that I feel that I must do. When that change in my thought process finally changes, the will to make the changes in my life to get rid of those consequences will happen. It will be a catalyst to get myself to where I want to be.

Yet how do I create consequences in my life so that I can energize those changes that I wish to enact? The first is by pruning my vocabulary so that I do not soften the impact of the negatives that I am trying to change. I am not a little overweight, I am fat. I am not tired from a hard day, I am lazy. These things help to create a sense of pain in me that forces me to address the situation. I can both accept those things about myself and live knowingly with them, or I can change them. If I choose to change them, this gives me some of the pain to use to make those changes.

Once I have started to make the change, putting restrictions and consequences on myself help to insure that the process is seen through. For example, I don’t get to relax and watch something until I have completed my writing for the day. By holding to this consequence, it means that I will get that change done so that I can avoid the consequence of not being able to watch something I enjoy. This can be taken a step farther and have it be that if I don’t get all my writing done for the week, then I don’t get to watch anything next week even if I do achieve my daily goals next week. This gives a lasting consequence that I will want to avoid which will drive my goals.

The trick for me is to set consequences and change those “shoulds” into “musts” without sabotaging my belief that I can change, without turning the process into something that I accept because I don’t have the belief that I can actually make the change. This is a delicate balance and that I waver on all the time. A good way to escape this is to pair those consequences with bonuses. This lets us strive and indulge in something when we reach our goals.  This is carrot and stick situation that helps to maintain my balance. Some days are harder than others, but the overall effect if that these two things drive my ability to change rather than just my desire. It changes those things that I should do, into things that I must do.

What changes in your life do you need to change into a must so that it actually happens? What consequences will you impose on yourself so that you actually must make those changes?