Monday, August 20, 2012

Up For a Challenge?

There is a particular type of person who loves a challenge: give them a goal of accomplishing something difficult and they can go after it with gusto. This same person might muddle along through day-to-day life, unable to make sense of a schedule, with no apparent direction or drive, sometimes being labeled as lazy or unambitious.

It's all about the packaging, isn't it?

We package particular self-driven endeavors in ways that flavor our perceptions of the outcome, whether we realize it or not. "Chores" seem like a drudgery. "Work" feels like a prison sentence. "Exercise" is reminiscent of endless math problems, practiced until one could "get" it. "Dieting" carries with it the connotation of a cyclical success/failure, all-or-nothing, deprivation-to-indlugence snowball. None of that sounds very fun, does it?

I have been thinking about this concept recently after taking someone - a tad reluctantly - to a hot yoga class with me. This person has not been too interested in exerting themselves, physically, for quite some time. Couple this with "heat" and the prospect of exercising in a 100 degree room seemed to be the last thing this person would be interested in. I gently encouraged her to give it a try, she acquiesced, and by the end of a 75-minute class hot power yoga class, she was hooked and I was shocked.

When I asked her what had made this so appealing, her response was that this felt like a challenge - a challenge that she'd chosen to meet, a challenge that she wanted to meet again and again.

Chore versus challenge.

One says, "you HAVE to..." while the other says, "CAN you...?"

HAVING to do something can feel so confining, while TRYING to do something sets the stage for exceeding expectations.

Whether it's becoming more physically active or getting to bed at an earlier hour, eating healthier foods or improving the quality of your relationships, HAVING to do it versus TRYING to do it - chore versus challenge, black-and-white/success-or-failure versus a progressively deepening or lightening shade of grey that mirrors a gradual altering and shifting - can make a HUGE difference in our attempts, our motivation, and even our sticktoitiveness.

How we talk to ourselves sets the stage for how we will feel as we approach something new or something mundane. WE are the ones who decide the narrative for our own daily play-by-play  commentary. While we may have little influence on the setting - like rush hour traffic jams, arguments among our children, or a messy kitchen - we are our own script-writers for the narration. How are you arranging your vocabulary?

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