Posted by Dr. Justine Ward
Do you actually want to? Or do you just think you should?
Are there certain changes in your life that you often think about, or talk about doing, but then never take actions to achieve? Does your diet change always start tomorrow? Did you buy a gym membership that is going to expire un-used? Maybe you pay lip service to the 5 a.m. club, but then hit the snooze button seven times – every morning.
I will be honest in saying that I have often been guilty of that last one.
I made joining the five a.m. club my goal for the 30-Day Life By Design Challenge that began this past Monday.
In the past, I have made a thousand excuses as to why I cannot seem to get up at 5 a.m. I want to spend an hour on self-development each morning and set each day up for success. Yet I have failed to actually do it consistently enough to call it a habit. For this reason, I spent some time doing significant self-reflection about this goal before the challenge started.
This blog is a product of that reflection.
The limiting factor for me is not the 5 a.m. wake up; it is the 9 p.m. bedtime. Since I do not function well with less than eight hours sleep, if I do not get to bed on time, a 5 a.m. wake up is not likely.
I am not lazy. I do not lack motivation or discipline. I know this because I consistently achieve other goals. I used to love bread and pasta, but I have not had either in years. I get my body into the gym an average of four days per week. I get my spine checked regularly, and paid full price for getting checked even when I was a struggling student. I read and listen to podcasts and work hard on my new business.
So what the heck? How is it that something as simple as getting out of bed at the same time everyday could be so hard? Other people do it. I refuse to believe that all these 5 a.m.’ers are somehow genetically inclined to wake up early.
Finally, I arrived at the blatant answer. I do not actually want to get up at 5 a.m. I just think that I should. If I was actually ‘sold’ on getting up at 5 a.m. and truly valued it, I would do it.
Key point here folks: If your values are not aligned with your goals, you are setting yourself up to fail.
So the problem is that I fail to get up early because I fail to go to bed early. Therefore I need to go to bed earlier to achieve my goal. Why has that not happened?
I love cooking. I find it relaxing and I make food that makes me healthy and happy. I also deeply value companionship and my close relationships. Ten times out of ten, I stay up late either cooking or spending time with (or on the phone with) someone I care about…or both.
I am staying up late because I value these things more than I value going to bed early and getting up at five a.m.
Boom…reflection successful. Problem solved.
So wait a minute, why did I keep my goal for the 30-Day Challenge to get up at 5 a.m.?
I sold myself on the value of it.
Spending more time on developing myself will allow me to create more value in the world. Creating more value will improve the quality of my life, my relationships and allow me to buy better ingredients to cook with.
It finally clicked when I realized, it is not just 5 a.m. It is not just this one morning or one hour or one podcast. It is my career, my life, and my ability to impact the world and achieve my purpose. In that context, it is my highest value.
The reason you may not be achieving your goals is likely because you have not built the value of your goals for yourself.
When you tell yourself that just one cookie will not make a difference, you truly do not understand or believe the significance of putting toxic food into your body. Or you love cookies more than your health.
If you routinely skip workouts, you do not believe that training is valuable.
If you do not get your spine checked, you do not know or understand that unhealthy neural function is possibly compromising the health of many organ systems in your body. Or you do not value your health.
We always do the things that align with our highest values. People go to jobs every day that they hate because they believe that it will allow them to buy things that they value for themselves and to provide for their families that they value.
So if you are struggling with your goals, it is time to either give up on them because they do not really matter to you or to build the value. You will have to build enough value that achieving your goal trumps the things that you are doing that are keeping you from achieving it. You will also likely have to remind yourself frequently of why it is valuable, until you develop new habits.