Although mind-body practices encourage us to be in the moment, in order to grow we also need to get where we want to be. Being fully present now helps us prepare for the future. This can apply in general to our careers, relationships, education . . . or more specifically to something you need to practice or a particular problem you want to solve.
Coaches often point out that one common reason people don’t get where they want to be is because they haven’t decided where they want to be. It all begins with a clear vision of where you are going. Next, you need to identify where you are right now. Once you determine the starting point A and the destination B, you simply need to come up with a plan to fill the gap. Until you create a plan, your goal remains a wish.
In order to move toward your goal, planning and scheduling are essential. As you observe your own behavior, you will begin to notice that you usually repeat the same actions over and over. Repetition and regularity—consistency—are important keys to help you accomplish your goals. Good coaches will focus on establishing healthy workout schedules and programs for you.
Quite often, a new workout regimen will be designed to break old habits and patterns that don’t serve you. Your coach will work with you to change your habits by training you to develop new patterns. Wherever you are right now is a result of what you have been doing, the way you have been doing. In other words, you are where you are because you have been repeating habitual behaviors. In order to change the outcome, then, you need to establish a different pattern of behavior. Changing habits always begins with awareness so you can take note of habits that don’t work for you, and consciously decide to change them. And this is precisely where mind-body practices can help us to develop both our body and mind.
The ability to reflect what is really happening is necessary to find out how to create a new pattern. Once you discover what doesn’t support you reaching your goal, you can begin to change or even eliminate old habits by daily reflection or meditation and observing your behavior.
Every decision we make in life is driven either by a desire to feel pleasure or to avoid feeling pain—or both. Whenever we take action, we unconsciously make this “emotional measurement” (on the pleasure/pain spectrum). For example, you might give in to the desire to eat a tasty sweet desert because the pleasure you experience will offset the pain of not meeting your fitness goals. Or, of course, you might calculate the other way: You could decide not to eat the sweet because the pleasure of being fit and healthy overrides your desire to experience a fleeting pleasure.
Unfortunately, many people ignore physical pain until the symptom becomes severe enough for them to take action. Even though they dislike the pain, they “grin and bear” it because changing their routine might be more uncomfortable. However, when the pain reaches a certain threshold (beyond the discomfort they might feel by changing behaviors) people finally take action. Our brains are wired for repetition, and this makes it is easy for people to stay within their comfort zone.
Understanding the pain/pleasure principle is key to developing awareness of our behaviors and for shifting to actions aligned with our goals. When we shift to behaviors that get us closer to our goals, we can speed up the development process by making the new behavior a habit. Eventually, repetition of this healthy behavior automatically takes us toward our goal.
Jim Rohn, one of the most influential motivational speakers of all time, said: “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” The difference hinges on awareness and disciplined observation of our own lives—plus a willingness and commitment to change.