You’ve heard it said many times before that people are “stuck in their ways,” and maybe you’ve said it as well. Depending on the person and the situation, it’s often said with confidence and satisfaction. That’s because there is a comfort to being resistant to change because it puts a stop to pain or helps you avoid it.
So getting the brain to create an ending, and getting the people around you to do the same, is going to take both the fear of the negative and the draw of the positive. Your brain really needs to get that if you don’t move, something bad is going to happen, and also that if you do, you will get what you desire. You have to break through the comfort level that you’re in because you were not designed to cope, but thrive.
So, what needs to happen to create the urgency needed to pursue what needs to happen for progress?
Your brain will get you moving toward anything that it agrees with, and avoiding pain is on top of its list. We get comfortable with our misery, as we find ways to medicate ourselves, delude ourselves, disassociate our feelings or get enough distance from the problem that it does not touch us directly. So, the first step to getting to the ending that we need is to make the threat to our future as real in our minds as it is in reality. That means that we have to smell the smoke.
Get alone and get honest with yourself. Look in the mirror if you have to and ask that person if he or she wants you to lie to you in order to tell the truth. If the answer came back “lie,” then you can stop reading from here. If you lie to yourself, you will never get there. But if the answer was “tell the truth,” then sit down and think of all of the realities of the situation that you’ve been avoiding.
From there, stop making excuses and project into the future: one month, six months, one year, two years, five years or more. See yourself at that time having the same discussions that you are having now, with no better results. Picture it, feel it, smell it. You already know what it is like, so you don’t even have to use your imagination. You are living it right now. I just want you to picture yourself living it for real five years from now. Is that what you really want?
In order to move into forward progress, start with setting a deadline for yourself to execute the ending. High-performers live by a sense of urgency for any performance to happen. Then create a structure to ensure that it happens. What time, plans and other factors do you need in order to make sure your endings happen? This may include getting an outside coach, accountability partner or peer into place for a structured process, not one in which “We’ll do it when we get time.”
Finally, measure and evaluate what you want to make grow. Be the inspecting gardener, and you will get healthy urgency to create quick endings before the problems get too big. Think teeth cleaning versus root canals. Planned deficits and slow growth are fine, and all the numbers don’t always have to be happy. Sometimes bad numbers are in the plan, but in those instances, you are on an intentional plan, not headed for a train wreck, and you know the difference by diligent measuring.
Creating urgency around necessary endings is key to what happens with your time and energy. If those are your main resources, which they always are, then letting time go by without bringing urgent energy to change is going to ensure that your tomorrow will be the same as today. If stalled out is normal now, create urgency so that action is the new normal.