Falling Off The Wagon…Again

You passionately want to change your life for the better. You’ve broken it down into baby steps and written out your commitments. The change felt good…no, great!  You felt in control, accomplished, and excited to see the results. Then, you gently reverted back to the way things were.

“I  know it smells bad, but it’s warm and it’s mine.” – Dave Ramsey

The same old, same old is so comfortable. It doesn’t require you to work hard, be honest with yourself, and acknowledge the pain. You’re still in pain. Whether you were trying to lose 20 pounds or start your own business, you decided to make a change for a reason: you’re in pain. When you walk past a mirror without pants on. When you work until 10 PM on that TPS report. Deciding to change and taking action requires that you acknowledge that pain. Otherwise, you can go on self-medicating with chocolate, late night television, and road rage. Just like a toddler with a poopy diaper.

So, why doesn’t change stick when we desperately want it to? Dave Ramsey’s approach to financial peace highlights the missing ingredients:

  1. You need to radically change your beliefs
  2. You need to go at it with “gazelle intensity”

Changing Your Beliefs

Ask anyone who listens to Ramsey’s radio show and they can tell you that it’s all about a debt-free lifestyle. This concept goes against what many of us grew up to believe. “Credit cards build credit and I need credit. A car payment is part of life; I will always have a car payment. I need a credit card for emergencies.” All of these beliefs drive our behaviors. In order to change your behaviors permanently, making that monthly budget committee meeting and saving first part of your routine, you must truly believe that you can live a better life without credit cards and debt. So much so, that you cut up all of your credit cards and sell your vintage record collection to pay off the American Express.

If you want to sustain your new love for running:

  1. Honestly admit what your current beliefs about running and exercise are: “It’s hard. I hate running. It’s boring. It doesn’t work.”
  2. Consider where those beliefs came from. Often beliefs are reinforced over and over again from failed starts in the past. We quit during the hardest part.
  3. Pay attention to your immediate new perspective and make it your mantra, especially when the going gets tough: “I love this. I am in control. I can totally lose this weight. This is the best part of my day.”
  4. Surround yourself with others who already have these beliefs. Join a running group or run with a friend who already runs everyday.
  5. Make a commitment. Just like cutting up the credit cards, there are always ways you can make an emotional commitment to your new lifestyle. If you’re super frugal, invest in a nice pair of running shoes. If you’re a spender, try on and pick out an amazing pair of shoes and then set a stretch goal that will bring them home. Tell someone you look up to about your goals and set a follow-up meeting.

Gazelle Intensity

For paying off debt, Ramsey guides his tribe to ignore the interest rates and pay off the smallest debt first. Why? When hard work is involved, and especially if it’s optional, you need to experience traction early on in order to stay at it. You need an early win. The most successful weight loss programs ensure that you lose a few pounds in the first week. That first win turns you into a believer. You can do this and now that you are on your way, it would be an emotional let down to let that progress slip away. You are more committed than ever.

Can’t wait to write that book that has been burning a hole in your skull? Jump into the part you are most excited about, whether it’s creating a cover to give it life or writing that first chapter. Don’t stop until you get it down. Then, make sure to set yourself for another small win within the next week.

To prevent your excitement from waning beyond repair and losing your steam, schedule regular “back-up” meetings now. Your passion and beliefs are stored away in the inspirational people who are already living the life you are working toward. By spending time with them on a regular basis, you’ll help ensure that you jump back on the wagon with enthusiasm before it disappears down the road!

What changes have you made in your life that took a few attempts and a lot of perseverance? How did you do it?

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